Numbed: Art of Bandu Manamperi
17 October to 9 November 2009 at Red Dot Gallery.

Bandu Manamperi’s first art approach entered the society with the Made in IAS exhibition. That was with his powerful work “Instant Nirvana Private Limited”. This work received international and local attention.  Organized under Jagath Weerasinghe’s curatorial intervention, Made in IAS showcased the art reflecting the discourse of  90s Trend.
After the Made in IAS exhibition, Bandu’s art manifested as performances. Performance art emerged within the art practices supported by the 90s Trend. Being one of the initiators of performance art in Sri Lanka, Bandu Manamperi  remains as one of the leading performance artists active at present. As a performance artist, Bandu Manamperi explores three themes.  One is to highlight critically the oppressive cultural believes or practices forced upon woman that continuously prevailing in the male-centric society looking at the whole issue through a humane position. Another is to present through sensitive performances the individual’s pain in a war ridden society and its extreme anxieties. The other  is to interrogate critically, the  extreme religious interventions and blatantly extremist behavior of the state through political and sometimes witty performances.
This time, through the visual art exhibition at the Theertha  Red Dot Gallery, Bandu Manamperi engages in finer and deeper socio political issues. The visual motifs that Bandu suggests for this process are of three types in their basic appearance. The fist type is a visual-form that shows an expression ‘instantly frozen’ made from a mold taken from his body. This form is covered with different textured surfaces and hung at an elevated position from the floor. The second type of form is more flexible, similar to a skin without any texture. This can be suggested as the primary form that exists before putting on different textured surfaces as coverings. It is presented in the gallery space as limp form. The third type of visual form that Bandu presents in the exhibition is his own performance. Bandu’s attempt through this exhibition is to say that the individual  in a society ware different cultural/ political coverings as protective membrane over one’s own natural covering, the biological skin while  finding comfort and security within it. That is, the individual would put different coverings representing extremists and obsessive positions reflective of religion, history, nature, patriotism, self absorption, independence and media. This is done in relation to or in supportive of the relevant cultural and political environments.  Bandu suggests, that such tendencies in this complex political, cultural religious moment has restricted each other’s integrity and ideologies.
These socio-cultural  currents are influenced and dominated by a powerful political dialogue. This can be explored and elaborated further. That is that the first cultural covering is politically more innocent. The subsequent  coverings tend to be more political, and therefore not so innocent. Bandu articulates that in subtle political moments, all those social phenomena are experiencing a morbid relaxation, uncritically and in an exonerative manner. In other words Bandu suggests that all these social phenomena have succumbed to the common denominator, the total state sponsored ideological discourse.
The current exhibition  shows a direct connection to Bandu’s earlier works.  In his earlier work Bandu , primarily a performance artist has used his own body as the artistic form and built different textures on its surface. In this exhibition, Bandu uses his body as well as textured surfaces and works toward a singular objective.
Prasanna Ranabahu
13 October 2009
Translated by Lalith Manage

In Pictures: “Numbed”, Exhibition on sculpture by Bandu Manamperi

by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

“Art is a fruit that grows in man, like a fruit on a plant, or a child in its mother’s womb ~ Jean Arp or Hans Arp-German/ French Sculptor . (September 16th 1886-, 1886 –June 7th 1966)
“Numbed” –Exhibition on sculpture by Bandu Manamperi’s exhibition of sculptures is currently being held at the Theertha Red Dot Gallery in Pitakotte. The exhibition began on October 17th 2009, and it will end on November 9th 2009. The Theertha Red Dot Gallery is a contemporary-artist- run gallery, and first of its kind in Sri Lanka.
A series of exhibitions are lined up for Theertha Exhibition Season. Seven sculptures are displayed- named “Skin” and “Numbed”. They are elevated from the ground level, hung by the top of the heads with steel rods; the figures look frozen and rigid. He has used rubber and fibre to depict various situations of mankind. Bandu Manamperi uses variety of techniques to explain his thoughts.
He is a founding member of the Theertha International Association, a visual artists group based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He has participated in several exhibitions held in Sri Lanka and abroad. His exhibition is absolutely an unusual experience in the Sri Lankan contemporary art scene.

Lost in The Maze by Sasanka Perera
(Sasanka Perera, a professor of Anthropology at Dept. of Sociology, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka)
 Left: Gallery view of the exhibtiion 'Maze' by Bandu Manamperi and G.R. Constantine held at the Lionel Wendt Gallery, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
November 2006.

The Context

What came to my mind when I saw ‘The Maze’ during its opening night were the
opening words in Lawrence Langer’s 1996 essay, ‘The Alarmed Vision: Social
Suffering and Holocaust Atrocity.’ Even though talking of another context,
Langer’s central concerns are also central to the foundational ideas of ‘The
Maze.’ Langer noted that “until we find a way of toppling the barrier that
sequesters mass suffering in other regions of the world from the comfort and
safety we enjoy far from its ravages, little will be done to rouse the attention of
our political or professional leaders, to say nothing of our own. Domestic calm
encourages distancing from foreign pain.” The relevance of Langer’s words
would become apparent when we pay attention to the ideas and local
experiences that gave genesis to the ‘The Maze.’ ‘The Maze’ is a collaborative
performance art and installation art project by Bandu Manamperi and G.R.
Constantine that was hosted by the Theertha International Artists’ Collective at
the Lionel Wendt Art Gallery from 2 nd to the 5 th November 2006. Writing the
conceptual clarification upon which the basic premises of ‘The Maze’ was based,
Anoli Perera made the following observations in the catalogue produced to mark
the event:

“Ours is an anesthetized society. We are oblivious to the other’s pain.
We have lost our capabilities of either empathizing or sympathizing.
The weapons of “mass instruction” give us the view of a distant theater.
Our living rooms become the safe pavilions for watching far away wars
and killings. We are the cheering spectators.

We have found psychological mechanisms to justify our collective
amnesias and have anesthetized ourselves to block out traumatic
experiences of the society.

Once we are in this world of decadence, we lose all rationality where
priorities get misplaced and extreme emotions govern the order of the

This is the maze we have entered into” (Theertha 2006).