|CODEFC – Letters from Eelam (Sri Lanka), UN Approved|
CODEFC is a local graffiti artist. He's been around for a while now and certainly most of you have come across some of his work.
If not around here in our streets or in a gallery, then maybe in Normandy, or Ibiza, Amsterdam, Vietnam, Paris, Bangkok, Thailand or India amongst others.
His interventions often have a strong political character and because of this, they are very site specific. The use of the camera replacing faces, is partly because of his film background but also because this implies a certain distance, much as a spectator and/ or a witness. The camera is also used as a logo.
Inspired by everyday events, CODEFC often does project based works. Such is the case with the one presented here. In his own words:
As you probably know, the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) has been at war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for the past 25 years, and the struggle culminated in 2009 with the defeat of the tigers and the killing of 40.000 innocent Tamils.
During my recent visit I had the chance to go (briefly, for safety reasons) to Eelam and speak to a few people.
The situation is still really bad and people are being abused on a daily basis. Even for tourists like me the situation has changed lately, since the GOSL has kicked out all NGO’s and any white (western) person is seen as a pro-Tamil, and therefore pro-Tigers. There are roadblocks on every few hundred meters, passport controls and questions.
This project is based on the sorrow of the genocide that the government inflicted on the Tamil minority, I tried to keep it impartial (not supporting the Tigers).
During the war the U.N. was told safety for their troops was not guaranteed (?!) and therefore they left, leaving no one to monitor the cruelties that happened there in the last months of the war.
I’m not the best person to explain the why’s and how’s of the situation but a quick history search will show that the Tigers were not the real problem of Sri-Lanka, but the diversity of the Tamil – favoured by the British during colonization for speaking better English, being better at their duties, the Sinhalese community and their non-capability of living together.
From what I’ve seen, the problem is still there. The North-East areas are a huge military base and I myself started getting really uncomfortable about the situation and lead me to do less painting I intentionally wanted to do.
I hope my paintings raise some issues about the validity of the U.N. and the indifference of the nations that are part of it. If you haven’t had the chance of watching the following, please spare 45 minutes to check out ‘Sri-Lanka’s killing fields’ broadcasted on channel 4. Also worth checking is http://tamilnet.com with a rather complete report on the situation there. Some of the designs were actually taken from that site so they relate to real people of that area, some applied to houses destroyed by the fighting… the bullet holes are real.
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