By Dimithri Wijesinghe
“Art and Artist: An unbreakable bond?”, an open forum debate, is to be hosted by Sri Lanka Students for Liberty and South Asia Students for Liberty on Sunday, 22 November at 3 p.m.
Speaking to Event Organiser Paramie Jayakody, she said that the event has been put together in collaboration with South Asia Students for Liberty’s Abishek Singh and that it is unlike the traditional webinar format you may have come to expect in most online events. She said that the forum hopes to host a live debate where attendees will be afforded a platform to air their thoughts live and on video, thereby giving way to a real-time conversation on the topic.
She shared that in doing so, they hope to foster interest in conversation and freedom of expression in a safe environment where their opinions are respected.
About the topic, Sri Lanka Students for Liberty provides that “art is the perfect escape – it is an avenue for you to explore the limits of your imagination and express peculiar aspects of your experience that don’t render well to general prose, without requiring you to lose touch with yourself”, and yet, there is also the unavoidable fact that any piece of art is inevitably situated in the real world, and some people insist that the art ought not (or cannot rightfully) be separated from the artist.
This they say either because they feel important themes of books cannot be fully understood without knowing the artist or because they feel that an artist enables their behaviour by commercially pursuing art. Others say that art means something different to each person and that the artist and their character shouldn’t intrude on their own representation of the piece.
They shared that as it is a question that has been discussed extensively yet remains unanswered, “the consequences of falling on either side of this debate are significant, because resolving this debate will inform how we approach cultural analysis of all forms in our lives. It is therefore an important debate; one that ought to be had”. The organisers of the event invite the public to join them and artistically think it over and have a riveting conversation on whether the art can be separated from the artist.
About the organisation, Jayakody shared that Sri Lanka Students for Liberty is a nonpartisan student group without party affiliation, bias, or designation. The sole purpose of the page is to create a dialogue and to provide a platform for individuals to discuss and practise the ideas of liberty. They stress that they are non-political and therefore do not endorse any political party, political candidates, or legislation.
She added that South Asia Students for Liberty exists to identify and support pro-liberty students in Asia and empower the first generation of student leaders who will lead the liberty movement in the region. They carry out educational activities, providing resources, and generally engage in educational activities to help young people study and learn the principles of a free society, spanning diverse academic fields; and leadership training where they provide leadership training opportunities for young people to learn and to be effective advocates of their ideas (this will include workshops, retreats, year-long training programmes, partner training opportunities, etc.) and facilitating of resources to support students and student organisations that seek to learn more about liberty including free books).
The group is also carrying out multiple other online activities as well, including the upcoming Round Table Conference on Rape Culture titled “Dissecting the Social Epidemic: Rape Culture” to be conducted on Saturday, 21 November at 3 p.m. NPT onwards, and also the ongoing discussion on the LGBTQ+ community, particularly legal rights for the LGBTQ+ community in Sri Lanka.