Colombo, Sri Lanka

Stage with a circle of audience (c) all pictures in this article Theertha

Godwin Constantine from Theertha joins us for the onAIRISM - interaction and connectivity workshop in June and the conference in November 2022.

Theertha is an autonomous, artist-led non-profit initiative based in Colombo. Theertha has undertaken a considerable amount of art activities since its inception in 2000. First, started by 11 visual artists to facilitate international art exchange through international artist workshops in Sri Lanka, it has expanded its activities to include art education through art teacher training, publications on art/culture, workshops for artists, international and local exhibitions. Through these activities, Theertha has intervened positively to create awareness on the contemporary art and its ideologies among the art students and the artists’ community-based in Colombo and selected communities in the regional areas. Through their art publication, they also have tried to disseminate discussions on current art/ culture issues to a larger community within Sri Lanka.

Theertha, who support the art of the 90’s trend which challenged the existing aesthetics, methodologies, and ideology in art making has always emphasized and encouraged innovative and experimental ideas among artists. Theertha has showcased some of the innovative artworks done by contemporary artists. Through the patronage of Theertha the relatively new art forms to Sri Lanka such as performance art and installation got the opportunity and forums to expand and evolve.

Theertha activities that need exhibition spaces increased considerably over the years, While, Sri Lankan art community grew and the global connections have expanded the goals, aspirations, and needs of artists, the infrastructure to support greater visibility and art presentations mechanisms to local and international audiences have been slow to meet international standards and requirements. Therefore, Theertha established its own alternative art space ‘Red Dot Gallery’ in 2007 in order to showcase the experimental and contemporary art produced within its programs.

To open up avenues for local artists and maintain connection internationally Theertha invests a considerable amount of their energy, resources, and expertise on building up close relations with international art managers, artists, art institutions and funding bodies. Theertha facilitated artists’ mobility through its regularly held international art workshops and residencies. As a result of these activities, Theertha was able to be a founding partner of the ‘Network’, a South Asia based network of artists with Pakistan (Vasl), India (Khoj), Nepal (Sutra) and Bangladesh (Britto Arts Trust). Other networks have been formed and connections expanded over the 15 years of Theertha’s existence, which has resulted in interesting and innovative collaborations internationally and in Sri Lanka.