Reflections on Black July in art, literature and theatre

[TamilNet, Thursday, 24 July 2008, 14:05 GMT]
Artists and writers in different parts of the world reflect through various ways on Black July 1983, the state-sponsored pogrom against Tamils in Sri Lanka, marking its 25th year. Citing some of the aesthetic expressions, a play in English to be staged in Canada on Saturday is based on the post-pogrom phenomenon of refugee hearing. While an ongoing art exhibition in Colombo documents life after 1983 in the eyes of a Sinhala photographer, a novel that comes from Australia bases itself on the psychological scars of the pogrom.

Anoma Rajakarauna
Anoma Rajakarauna [Photo: AP]
'What if the Rain Fails,' a play written by R. Cheran, a poet and a University professor in Sociology, and directed by Dushy Gnanapragasam, will be staged in three shows on Saturday at Young Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto, by Asylum Theatre Group in association with Canadian Tamil Congress. The central character of the play, K. Rasarathnam, is an actual survivor of Black July.

"As a child I walked down the main street of my home town Panadura, in southern Sri Lanka, with my mother. Then a day dawned in July 1983, which changed the familiar routine and the landscape completely. The landscape of main street, Panadura had changed. I met people who didn't have a place they called home. Most of them were Tamils. I have listened to their stories and to many other similar stories. I have documented their lives during the last 17 years," says Photographer Anoma Rajakaruna.

Anoma's photo exhibition is on display from July 18 to 24 in Colombo at the Alliance Francaise, Colombo. It will be organised at Alliance Francaise, Kandy, from August 8 to 14.

Dr. N.S. Nadesan, a veterinary surgeon in Melbourne, Australia, bases his novel on family life marred by bipolar depression as a result of Black July encounters. The novel, "unaiyea mayal ko'ndu," a first of its kind in Diaspora Tamil literature, delves into seldom touched intricacies of man-woman relationship against the backdrop of pursuing hangovers of a violence-affected society. It came out this May as a publication of Mithra Arts and Creations Private Limited, Chennai.

Unaiyea mayal ko'ndu
Dr. Nadesan's Tamil novel from Australia
Unaiyea mayal ko'ndu


Still from the play
Still from the play
Stills from the play, 'What if the Rain Fails', Canada
Anoma's photo exhibit
Photographs at display in the exhibition in Colombo
Anoma's photo exhibit
Photographs at display in the exhibition in Colombo
Anoma's photo exhibit
Anoma speaks


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