Deneth Piumakshi Veda Arachchige
Deneth Piumakshi Veda Arachchige lives in the French Alps and works in Paris, FR, and Basel, CH
The multidisciplinary approach of Deneth Piumakshi Veda Arachchige is situated between art and activism. Included in the 12th Berlin Biennale are several works that evolve from the theme of the restitution and reparation of the artist’s ancestral memories and remains. With photography, video, sculpture, and installation, the artist narrates the story of her ancestors, the Indigenous Adivasi (formerly known as Vedda) people of Sri Lanka. Piumakshi Veda Arachchige initiated this project in 2019, when she began researching Paul and Fritz Sarasin’s 1883–1907 scientific expeditions to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to study and collect the skeletal remains of the island’s Indigenous groups. The Swiss naturalists returned to Europe with a large collection of crania, which are still held in the archives of several European museums.
Using her own body as the basis for the sculpture Self-Portrait as Restitution – from a Feminist Point of View (2020), Piumakshi Veda Arachchige holds a replica of the skull of an Adivasi man that was unscrupulously removed by the Sarasins. She desires to pay respect to all her uprooted ancestors and to their disparaged way of life. Piumakshi Veda Arachchige finds a way of finally allowing these bodies and souls to rest in peace in their homeland, instead of imprisoning them in plastic boxes and locked cabinets. The product of three years of investigation, these works represent the suppressed voices and questions raised by the Adivasi. As viewers, we are asked to consider the question: to whom do these ancestral remains belong?
Mother Earth Calling, 2021, Atelier Mondial, Basel (CH)
Underneath my second skin, 2020, Gandy Gallery, Bratislava (SK) (solo)
Broderie: point de départ, 2020, La Manufacture – Musée de la mémoire et de la création textile, Roubaix (FR)
Thirst for Knowledge Meets Collecting Mania, 2019/20, Museum der Kulturen Basel, Basel (CH)
Sandwich, 2017, Les Complices*, Zurich (CH) (solo)