VIDEO TALES OF TIGER COUNTRY — “ANOTHER WORLD” FROM CHRISTOPHER KULENDRAN THOMAS AT THE KW INSTITUTE FOR CONTEMPORARY ART
History, it is said, is written by the winners. But when you’re imagining a whole new society, it might just be worth listening to the losers whose ideas were ditched in defeat. That’s precisely the task London-born artist Christopher Kulendran Thomas has given himself with Another World, a multimedia exhibition developed with longtime collaborator Annika Kuhlmann that fills two floors of the KW Institute for Contemporary Art. The “losers” in this case are the Tamil liberation movement, whose armed campaign to establish their own state in Sri Lanka was lost in 2009 after 26 years of bloody fighting. Huge floor-to-ceiling projections greet you as you enter the “The Finesse”, a video installation specially created by Kulendran Thomas and Kuhlmann for the show: a lush jungle (representing the forest planted by the Tamils to source timber for their proposed socialist state) is shown alongside videos featuring AI-generated avatars and interviews. In one example, a Tamil architect known simply as Manmahal explains her vision for a Tamil state, a Kalaschnikow resting in her arms.
Upstairs is Kulendran Thomas’s 2019 work “Being Human”, another video piece that blends footage of real people with computer-generated characters – ranging from guests at the Colombo Art Biennale to internationally known pop stars. Displayed next to the projection are paintings made using machine-learning algorithms trained on both western and Tamil art. Real and AI images jump between Sri Lanka as it exists now and the socialist Tamil state dreamt of by the revolutionaries. In doing this, Kulendran Thomas asks us to wonder: would life be better if the losers had won and their dreams – of another world – had become reality? You can get a preview of the show online with the KW Studio video platform, which features curator interviews and material from the exhibition. “Another world” runs until 15.01.2023, and is accompanied by three other exhibitions in KW’s current program: Michel Majerus – Early Works, Atiéna R. Kilfa – The Unhomely and the BPA// Exhibition 2022. As ever, on Thursdays 18–21h entry to the exhibitions is free.
Text: Benji Haughton / Photos: Frank Sperling / Credit: Philippe Van Snick Dag, 1984 – ongoing. Installation view entrance gate, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Courtesy Tatjana Pieter; Christopher Kulendran Thomas, The Finesse, 2022 in collaboration with Annika Kuhlmann. Installation view of the exhibition Christopher Kulendran Thomas – Another World at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin 2022
KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Auguststr.69, 10117 Berlin–Mitte; map
Christopher Kulendran Thomas – Another World, until 15.01.2023
Wed, Fri–Mon 11–19h & Thu 11–21h