‘From This Point Forward,’ Luka Alagiyawanna’s bold photography project in Sri Lanka, concluded last week in Galle on a very positive note.
Six big black and white portraits were pasted along an old, smudged wall next to a small café along Rampart Street inside the 17th Century Dutch Fort. Unlike in Colombo, where the first of four ‘From This Point Forward’ projects was held in March near the Bambalapitiya railway station, she had very few helpers this time for the considerable work of putting together a tapestry of six images, each made of nine A3 size prints, with home-made glue.
Nonetheless, the work was finished in just 45 minutes, as the sun set quickly over the atmosphere-laden ramparts filled with strollers and merry makers, with the cacophony from a New Year celebration close by drowning out voices.
Luka selected six young residents of the area, male and female, from different ethnic backgrounds and walks of life. The overall effect, unlike her sombre Colombo portraits, was quite sunny.
I think they reflect the different attitudes that exist in various parts of the country, Luka said.
But there was a sharp contrast between two of the male portraits (one of which could be described as grim) and the rest. Each subject selected a caption which summed up their attitudes. These ranged from ‘Aluth gamanak’ (a new journey), Good Life, Open Lotus and Waves (the latter from a surfer).
Permission was granted to use a public space for the project. Unlike in Colombo and Kandy, where they were quickly removed by unknown parties, the portraits were there for public view two days after the event. Luka is studying photography for a bachelor’s degree at a university in Berlin and this was her graduation project.
After the first event in Bambalapitiya, the second was held in Kandy and the third in Vavuniya.