Black July

by Sanjana Hattotuwa, Groundviews, Colombo, August 17, 2013

Black July

compressed from/derived from

Remembering, to never again repeat: Launch of 30 Years Ago site

The culmination of months of dedicated research, travel, challenging production work and curation, I am very pleased to launch 30 Years Ago.

The project is an attempt to remember and probe Sri Lanka’s epochal anti-Tamil pogrom of ’83 through perspectives rarely, if ever, featured before. The producers have used a wide range of media and methods – from a mixed media triptych to info-graphics, from audio podcasts to video, from photography to compelling write-ups. Some of the productions capture voices never heard before, like Mary Gunawathy Varatharajah‘s story on why she joined the erstwhile LTTE and what she is today. Sunela Jayawardene’s triptych looks at violence over the past three decades through the deification of ordinary individuals, using Google Earth imagery as a backdrop. Tehani Ariyaratne captures stories of those who, at great risk to themselves and their families, gave sanctuary to those under attack. Sharni Jayawardena captures compelling perspectives around Black July from Sri Lanka’s Muslim community and what they feel about the growing communal violence directed against them today. Shanika Perera communicates through visual design original research by Asanga Welikala, looking at key ‘constitutional moments’ after 1983. The producers from The Picture Press, as flagged previous on Groundviews, interrogate through over 80 photographs and in-depth notes whether 30 years on, Sri Lanka’s coast-to-coast connectivity helps or hinders that which gave rise to Black July. Some of the subjects, institutions and locations they have captured through photography have never before appeared in any media.

There’s much more to engage with on the site. As I mention in my introduction to the project,

These stories of anxiety, fear, violence, courage, love, sacrifice, of opportunities lost as well as well-springs of hope are captured with incredible skill and empathy by a gifted, multi-generational group of producers… I hope this project also serves as a template for how digital media and the web can be leveraged to commemorate, through refreshingly different and engaging ways, events which so many seek to forget, and yet for others, remain indelibly etched.

I encourage you to visit the site and engage with the vast selection of compelling content already featured therein, with more to come in the near future.

As with the new version of Groundviews, the 30 Years Ago website was designed for high-resolution displays, like Apple Retina. On these screens, the content featured on the site will render with outstanding clarity and precision. The project site is also completely responsive and HTML5 standards based, which means that it was built, from the get-go, to work perfectly and look beautiful on any modern tablet or smartphone.

You can also see some of the content from the project on display at the Park Street Mews, Warehouse D, from 10am – 5pm on the 24th and 25th of August. There are also related events taking place at this venue over the weekend.

Entrance free and details here.

These are just a few of the photographs featured in 30 Years Ago. For much higher resolution images and explanatory notes, visit the site.

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