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Digital Cultural Encounters

Kälam© Kälam

Digital cultural encounters

Kalam - a space for cultural encounters was soft opened on the 18. February 2020 aiming to soon host small exhibitions, performances and artist gatherings across all genres. With the outbreak of the global Covid19 pandemic, the following island wide curfew and now the socially distanced slow return to normalcy the vision of creating a space for people to meet, exchange and share ideas had to be changed. Until it will be possible to safely return to this vision Kälam will create cultural encounters that everyone can participate in from the safety at home: 

Kälam Artist Home Studio Visits
Kälam has been visiting artists in their home studios and will feature a series of artist videos in which artists share their practice, personal stories and exemplary works. The  program will feature series on different topics like Memory, Tradition and Heritage, Migration and Identity and Gender and Plurality. 

Kälam is an independent arts initiative for cultural encounters managed by Nicholas Kirutharshan and supported by the Goethe-Institut Sri Lanka. Please excuse that Kälam does not have the resources and expertise to subtitle the talks and conversations at this point.

Digital Encounters (English)

Jan Ramesh de Saram & Natasha Ginwala © Kälam

Jan Ramesh de Saram & Natasha Ginwala
From Shadows To Bridges

Sri Lankan - German cultural producer Jan Ramesh de Saram recalls his introductory research visit to Jaffna in 2003 and the extended relation that evolved with Jaffna’s cultural scene. Natasha Ginwala discusses the multifaceted role of artists in witnessing and chronicling repressed histories and biographical lineage through projects such as Colomboscope and documenta 14.

Sara Mikolai © Kälam

Sara Mikolai
Echoes of close and far narratives

Sri Lankan-German choreographer and dancer Sara Mikolai shares how she grew up soaking in Bharatanatyam dance philosophy and practice from her mother and an experimental approach to music from her father and how those influenced her work as an artist.

Digital Encounters (Tamil)

Kulanthai M. Sanmugalingam © Kälam

Kulanthai M.Sanmugalingam

Senior playwright Kulanthai  M.Sanmugalingam creator of several influential plays speaks about his approach of transforming lived memories into characters for his plays.

Somee Tharan © Kälam

Somee Tharan
Documentary Film

Documentary filmmaker Somee Tharan from Jaffna currently residing in India reflects on memories of the Jaffna Library burning explored in his documentary “Burning Memories “as well on the need to archive and collect objects from all aspects of life.

Charan Rudhramoorty © Kälam

Cheran Rudhramoorthy

Jaffna-born poet Cheran Rudhramoorthy living and working as a professor of sociology in University of Windsor, Canada recalls his very personal memories of Jaffna.

Nilanthan Mahaatheva © Kälam

Nilanthan Mahaatheva
Politics of Memory

Artist and political critic Nilanthan Mahaatheva critically analyses how Tamil artists are dealing with memory and trauma

Sankar Venkateswaran © Kälam

Sanker Venketeswaran
Memory & Theatre

Theater director Shanker Venketeswaran from Kerala and dramaturgy mentor at the  Colombo Dance Platform 2014 explains how he works with social memory across his theater plays.

Nillani joseph © Kälam

Nillani Joseph
Visual Arts

Artist Nilani Joseph shares her personal experiences of having her native home being declared part of a High Security Zone in Jaffna and how fences came to be the symbol for divide, eventually inspiring her acclaimed “Fences “series.

M. Kannan © Kälam

M. Kannan
Lite Music

Legendary composer and musician M.Kannan recalls how he created the form “Lite Music”in the 1970s in the ‘Radio Ceylon’ .He explains with listening samples how he made Carnatic music more accessible through catchy lyrics and enjoyable melodies.

T. Tilaxan © Kälam

T. Tilaxan

Photographer Tilaxan Tharmapalan shares how he collected photographs and historic cameras from all around Jaffna and in the process uncovered many forgotten stories while putting together the Jaffna vintage photography exhibition.

K.Sayanthan © Kälam

K. Sayanthan
Writing & Memory

Novelist K. Sayanthan now based in Switzerland speaks of memories of displacement and the experience of war through his first and forth coming novels  but also how memories return as haunting traumas.

J.Johnson Rajhkumar © Kälam

J. Johnsen Rajhkumar
Dance Drama

Center for Performing Arts assistant director and  Koothu (traditional dance drama) performer J.Johnsen Rajhkumar discusses how Koothu  as a local tradition that needs to be protected, while sharing memories from his performance practice as well as narratives of mythical legends.

R. Mayoornathan © Kälam

R. Mayooranathan

Architect and founders of Tamil Wikipedia R. Mayoornathan who worked in UAE for many years before returning to Jaffna shares insights into his ongoing research on 400 years of Jaffna history and the urgency of preserving  cultural heritage.

Navadharshini Karunaharan © Kälam

Navadharshini Karunaharan
Theatre Heritage

Drama and Theater Arts senior lecturer Navadharshini Karunaharan reveals her research on Kanapathipillai and how theater traditions can be composed using colloquial style and ongoing social issues instead of lingering on specific themes of historical events, cast and class.

Jeyathis Jeevaratnam © Kälam

Jeyathis Jeevaratnam
Museum Culture

Jeyathis Jeevaratnam studied musicology in India and after his return created a model museum gallery in the University of Jaffna. In his home village of Therunalveli he designed and built a temple according to the rare Dravedic traditions. Jeyathis also criticized the commercialization and sell out of antique heritage. He wishes to make a museum that represents Sri Lankan Tamil culture and history

Sellathurai Srikannan © Kälam

Sellathurai Srikannan
Contemporary Dance

Bharatanatyam dancer and contemporary choreographer Sellathurai Srikannan narrates the story of how he came to be a contemporary dancer and developed the piece “History of History“ through which he was able to express 35 years of wartime experiences. 

Packiyanathan Ahilan © Kälam

Packiyanathan Ahilan

Poet, art historian and senior lecturer Packiyanathan Ahilan talks about his three poetry collections. His poetry evokes Jaffna of the nineties: addressing displacement, threatened lives in bunkers and female histories while contemplating how social memories can be preserved through poetry.

Dr. T. Shanaathanan © Kälam

Dr. T. Shanaathanan
Visual Arts

Senior Artist and Head of the Fine Arts Department of the University of Jaffna Dr. T Shanaathanan elaborates on a few examples of how he has dealt with remembering and communal memory in his artistic practice. He elaborates on the ‘History of History’ exhibition and further presents his book project “The incomplete Thombu”.