by Christopher Kulendran Thomas & Annika Kuhlmann

commissioned by VAC Foundation for Venice Biennale 2019
art film/ installation | GER, SRL, ITA | 30min loop | 2019
The film Being Human (2019) features algorithmically synthesised characters – a well-known painter, a famous pop star and a young Tamil artist. Shot in Sri Lanka, the film takes us on an elliptical journey around the island, from the fallout of the Sri Lankan Civil War to the Colombo Art Biennale founded in its aftermath.

Christopher Kulendran Thomas’ family is from a place that no longer exists. 10 years ago, in the summer of 2009, the Tamil homeland of Eelam – in what is now the North and East of Sri Lanka – was wiped out by the Sri Lankan army. Born through a neo-Marxist revolution, Eelam had been self-governed as an autonomous state for almost 30 years. However, following attacks on the United States on September 11th 2001, revolutionary movements around the world that challenged national sovereignty were relabelled as terrorists. Limited by the geopolitical interests of its member states, the United Nations failed to prevent the annihilation of Eelam. Curiously, in the months following that violence (and with the economic liberalisation that followed), the first white cube commercial galleries opened on the island, representing a generation of artists influenced by the Western canon encountered online. Soon, a new market for contemporary art emerged in Sri Lanka.

Digital projection on acrylic. Installation View: Time, Forward!, V–-A–-C Zattere. Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti.