way of the forest
18 - 28 January 2024 / Colombo
Over 40 Sri Lankan and international artists
conversations • mushroomings • excursions • performances
workshops • concerts • open air cinema • listening experiences
Colomboscope Festival is overjoyed to announce the focus for its eighth edition Way of the Forest that will manifest from 19 to 28 January 2024 across several venues in Colombo. This edition is shaped with over 40 Sri Lankan and international artists and collectives. Interwoven with interdisciplinary programmes Mushroomings ranging from conversations, excursions, performances, workshops, open-air cinema and listening experiences realised with a host of cultural partners. Colomboscope 2024 is curated by Hit Man Gurung, Sheelasha Rajbhandari, Sarker Protick with artistic director Natasha Ginwala.
Colomboscope remains committed to collective production and experimental methods, knowledge circulation via regional alliances, and the sustenance of local cultural ecologies through challenging times and collapsing infrastructures. Artistic Director, Natasha Ginwala notes, “In the shelter of foliage we may imagine future alliances and collective fictions. Zones of action, waiting, and retreat for the tracing of enduring political grammars of dissent. Over centuries, ecocidal violence in canopied geographies has systemically accompanied forms of militarisation and the wounding of minorities in Sri Lanka and across South East Asia. These terrains are also where rare earths are extracted to maintain digital thirst and global mobility. As the jungle floor shrinks and burns, it holds animated truths—If we care to pursue its regeneration—a return to dreaming, interdependence, hibernation, and ethical imaginaries shall inevitably manifest. From the forest we may also learn how to forage, to make use of what exists in abundance; to store what is scarce; and to listen deeply in order to hear the morning chorus.”
“What do the spirits of these lands, rivers, forests whisper in our ears? In many folktales, legends, and mythologies, forests are associated with spirits, witches, and other mystical beings. These entities are often depicted as powerful and independent, existing beyond the reach of societal constraints. After the rise of colonial imperialism, the extraction of natural resources and abuse of natural inhabitants was exacerbated as a fulfilment of greed and ego. The subjugation of nature then portrayed as a victory of rule, might, science, power. From the perspective of a patriarchal state, forests are seen as a liminal space, a place inhabited by ghosts and rebels seeking solace and autonomy, an untamed space that challenges their authority and control. For centuries, Indigenous peoples have recognized the significance of forests; our elders instilled in us a strict adherence to this ethos—a stark contrast to the teachings of our modern education system. They understand that it is not merely a collection of trees, but a living entity, embodying the spirits of our ancestors and serving as our guardians.
As Indigenous peoples, we find ourselves navigating nation-states driven by corporate capitalism and geopolitical hegemony. Throughout this journey, we have experienced, witnessed, and advocated for profound transitions marked by loss, change, resistance, struggles, and at times, even hopelessness. It is here that rebels, outcasts, and borderline beings find solace and support within the forest’s sheltering embrace. Its dense foliage and shaded paths provide a sense of secrecy and protection, allowing those seeking autonomy and freedom to gather and organize away from prying eyes, to recalibrate uncertainty and fear, to dream of alternative power structures, of new world orders.”