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The Tale of Two Cities 2015

From 2015-09-01 to 2016-09-30

The art project, ‘The Tale of Two Cities’ is conceptualized as a one-year long project facilitating established artists of two countries; India and Sri Lanka, to engage in an investigative/research based art-making process together relooking at the socio-cultural and historical dynamics of two cities, Varanasi and Anuradhapura. Both Varanasi (Banaras) and Anuradhapura are imbued with deep histories going back to ancient times intertwined with religious and spiritual beliefs and myths, making their contemporary existence loaded with symbolic significance of spirituality, power and religiosity. Varanasi or Kashi, is an Indian city on the banks of the Ganga in Uttar Pradesh and considered one of the oldest cities in the world. Mark Twain is known to have described of Varanasi as "older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together". Highly rooted in tradition and mythological legacies, Varanasi is considered the ‘original ground ‘ created by Shiva and Pārbati, upon which they stood at the beginning of time. Considered the microcosm of Hinduism, Varanasi is a city glorified by myth and legend and sanctified by religion, which has continuously attracted pilgrims and worshippers from time immemorial. In close proximity to it lies the Bodhgaya, which is one of the holiest sites for Buddhists. It is also a site where many pilgrimages from Sri Lanka takes place annually. Anuradhapura, a city founded in the 4th century BC which was the capital of Lanka from where many kings ruled for nearly a 1000 years. An illustrious, rich and culturally vibrant city, Anuradhapura is also connected with the origin myth of Sri Lanka which centers around Vijaya, a prince from South India who came with 500 of his people and established the 1st kingdom in the Lanka Dweepa. One of his commanders ‘Anuradha’ is supposed to have established Anuradhagama, which later became Anuradhapura. Anuradhapura also hosts a number of Buddhist holy sites, the most significant of these is the ‘Sri Maha Bodh’, a sapling from the original figtree in Bodhgaya where the Buddha is believed to have sat under and attained enlightenment. According to Buddhist legend and Sri Lanka’s ancient historical texts written in Pali, The Sri Maha Bodhi was sent to Lanka by Emperor Asoka through his daughter Sangamitta after his son Mahinda had established the Buddhist order in Sri Lanka in 250 BC. The two cities and their histories offer many historical links and mythic connections between Sri Lanka and India. Participating Artists - India Chintan Upadhyay, Manjunath Kamath, Paula Sengupta, Manisha Parekh, Riyas Komu and Ram Rahman Sri Lanka Jagath Weerasinghe, Anoli Perera, Pala Pothupitiye, Pradeep Chandrasiri and Bandu Manmperi. Curatorial Advisor - Ruhanie Perera This project has been put together by Gallery Espace, New Delhi and Serendipity Arts Trust, New Delhi in collaboration with Theertha, Sri Lanka.