Artist Profile

Sumugan Sivanesan

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Sumugan Sivanesan is an anti-disciplinary artist, researcher and writer. Often working collaboratively his specific interests include: ‘political ontology’ and solidarity across different modes of worlding, environmental personhood and multispecies politics, queer methodologies, Tamil diasporas, urban play, activist media and artist infrastructures. His artistic research project fugitive radio pursues anticolonial, migrant and queer issues and music in Helsinki, Berlin and elsewhere. It was initially developed collaboration with Pixelache and with support from the Kone Foundation (2020–21). In Berlin he organises with Black Earth, a collective who address interacting issues of racism, gender, colonialism and climate justice.

Featured Work

Alex & I: The Afterlife of Images

Alex & I: The Afterlife of Images, is a short explanatory text that accompanies the video essay Alex & I: Moving Pictures (2016). This work animates an inventory of images circulating in the aftermath of the civil war in Sri Lanka (2009) to recall the (mis)adventures of a  controversial Tamil refugee and media figure Sanjeev “Alex” Kuhendrarjah. Alex was a self-appointed spokesperson for 254 Tamils attempting to reach Australia by boat in October  2009, and for a period of time characterised a borderscape that spanned Australia,  Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Canada. The video charts pictures of Alex circulating across networks and the consequences of images moving offline and into real life. I present the video as a form of “survival media”, a term coined by the cultural theorist Suvendrini  Perera to describe the expressive outputs of Tamil migrant, refugee and diasporic subjects in the long aftermath of the war in Sri Lanka. The work also concerns artist and writer Hito  Steyerl’s notion of the “poor image”.

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