Pradeep Thalawatta’s practice is located at the crux of urban scenarios which involve infrastructural connectivity, mass production, popular tradition, and industrial materiality. He delves into these themes through performative practice often steeped in engaging with visual culture. Thalawatta also creates sculptures and installations that survey the embedded life of objects within the city and semi-rural areas in the context of post-war development.
Rameshwaram (2012) and Rameshwaram Kandy to Jaffna (2016) are two works from an ongoing series in which the artist connects disparate histories to generate new conversations. Rameshwaram speaks to the Hindu epic the Ramayana. The chain of shoals along the Palk Strait according to Hindu legend, was the bridge built to transport Rama, the hero of the Ramayana, to the island to rescue his wife Sita from Ravana.
Rameshwaram, Kandy to Jaffna speaks to the A9 Highway which connects the central city of Kandy with Jaffna. The highway was closed in 1984, after the eruption of the civil war between the Sri Lankan armed forces and Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam. After de-mining and repairs were completed, the A9 Highway was reopened for troop movement for the first time since 1984 on the 2nd of March, 2009 and finally reopened for civilians in April of 2009.
By bringing these works together Thalwatta reflects on roads as points of historical connection. One international and yet tied deeply to the spiritual formations and ideologies of Sri Lanka, and the other internal and conflict-ridden: Roads that may facilitate war, trade, or interdependence.