Through a range of workshops with emerging arts professionals, performers and writers Colomboscope organizes intimate and horizontal learning environments as part of developing cultural inquiry at a grassroots level. These modules are practice-oriented and involve skills development, strengthening attitudes of curiosity, debate and collaboration, as well as furthering dialogue with visiting creative producers from South Asia and beyond.
Re-Tooling Workshop #1: Hacking the System
The workshop took place from October 18 - 20, 2019 at Ellerton Bungalow in the central hills of Sri Lanka. It was organised with the support of EUNIC European Houses of Culture. Sessions focused on working conditions for contemporary practitioners, spatial practice as well as key principles of arts publishing. A reading corner with several catalogues, artist monographs and self-published zines activated conversations between sessions. This participating young artists and photographers has since remained in dialogue with the Colomboscope team and invited curator Anushka Rajendran.
Performance Poetry Workshop
The first Performance Poetry Workshop was held in November 2019 in the framework of Kacha Kacha with live performers, writers and spoken word artists from different regions of Sri Lanka and Mumbai, India. Participants met in a convivial atmosphere and exchanged positions around their diverse practices. Tamil and Sinhala translations were provided by Kirutharshan Nicholas and Gaya Nagahawatta. The workshop was facilitated in three segments: a session by spoken word artist Priya Malik “On Gender and Feminist Learning”, a session by Natasha Ginwala (artistic director, Colomboscope) on “Radical Potentiality: Oral Storytelling and Dub Poets”, and finally through a moderated sharing of process work, improvisation techniques and production challenges.
Workshop on Book Making & Self-Publishing
Colomboscope together with artist and publisher Jason Dodge, facilitated a workshop on bookmaking and self-publishing in January 2021. Jason Dodge shared and discussed his experiences and techniques of bookmaking and publishing with a diverse audience from all around the world. From how to maximise offset formats, to folding thousands of pieces of paper by hand, and why he started his poetry imprint Fivehundred Places in 2012 where he has published poets such as Alice Notley, CAConrad, and Ishion Hutchinson among many more. Participants were invited to share their own projects and ideas, creating an environment of mutual exchange. The session took place in a hybrid format.
Politics of Listening Workshop
In June and July 2020, Colomboscope organized the workshop 'Politics of Listening' led by Lawrence Abu Hamdan for a small group of artists and collaborators in Sri Lanka invested in learning from forensic approaches to the visual arts and extending inquiries at the cross-section of media, investigative tools and sonic practices as well as documenting histories of repression and dissent through aurality and acts of witnessing. Between physical and virtual interactions, the sessions turned out to be considered exercises in sharing ideas traversing political geographies, ongoing research processes, and cross-disciplinary learning.
Colomboscope has given centre stage to live events as part of the festival programme involving local and visiting musicians, producers, multi-instrumentalists and composers. Some of the guests include The Chamber Music Society of Colombo, Asvajit and Nigel Perera, Larry T. Hill, The Soul, Venuri Perera, Priya Malik, among others.
Kacha Kacha brings together rappers, poets and singer-songwriters performing in Sinhala, Tamil and English. The event is known for providing a platform for uncensored expression and multilingual, smart beat making and rapping.
Featuring artists who are socially conscious, performing their original material to an audience consisting of members from various strata of society, Kacha Kacha allows for a confluence of expressions, as each artist brings with them a different perspective to current socio-political realities. Poet and journalist Imaad Majeed hosted the first Kacha Kacha as part of Colomboscope in 2015, at Castle Hotel in Kompannavidiya. It has since been hosted in other such bars frequented by working-class communities in different parts of the city.
The latest edition, in collaboration with Colomboscope, took place at the Government Service Sports Club in Colombo and was celebrated with performance and spoken word contributions from Jaffna, Trincomalee, Colombo, Rathmalana, and Mumbai. Contributors include Priya Malik (Mumbai, India) / Kumari Kumaragamage (Colombo, Sri Lanka) / Samasthalanka Vaada Baila Shilpeenga Sangamaya (Rathmalana, Sri Lanka) / CV Laksh (Trincomalee, Sri Lanka) / Aaraniyam (Jaffna, Sri Lanka) / Imaad Majeed (Colombo, Sri Lanka)
This recently launched initiative focuses on artistic research, site-responsive production and durational approaches within contemporary cultural practice through month-long residencies for artistic producers hosted in different coastal and rural regions of Sri Lanka. Invited artists will work closely with community mediators and local practitioners exploring aspects of social memory, oral histories, diasporic narratives, informal pedagogy, sonic archives and traditional arts. Each residency will include an ‘Open Studio’ with accompanying elements such as workshops, live acts, networking dialogues and screenings as part of contextualizing cultural processes for local audience groups and extending the impact generated by Colomboscope Festival.