Initiated as a long-term artwork in the form of a startup, the venture has brought together an interdisciplinary team of specialists across the fields of technology, art, real estate, finance and architecture to explore how a more liquid form of citizenship could be constructed beyond national boundaries.
Developed in collaboration with curator Annika Kuhlmann, New Eelam originates from contemporary art’s role in reimagining cities, from styles of living to forms of labour. New Eelam’s ‘concept space’ at Spike Island – part of the company’s research and development process – is a sci-fi vision of an alternate reality, featuring technologies such as hydroponic home-farming systems presented here as living sculptures. Within this immersive environment, visitors can view New Eelam’s speculative documentary, 60 million Americans can’t be wrong, which introduces the post-capitalist housing proposal. Taking as a departure point the once self-governed – but now non-existent – homeland from which the artist’s Sri Lankan Tamil family originates, the film looks at the political and historical horizons of the venture. The exhibition also features a collection of micro videos that explore how a new economic model could emerge out of the existing economic system rather than in opposition to it.
This first UK presentation of New Eelam provides a timely opportunity to consider new possibilities for the architecture and experience of citizenship.
New Eelam: Bristol is supported by Arts Council England and co-commissioned with lille3000. New Eelam is presented with thanks to Institute for Modern Art, Brisbane; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Schinkel Pavilion, Berlin; and Triple Canopy.
New Eelam: Bristol furniture is generously loaned by HAY.
Annika Kuhlmann is a curator who works predominantly through long term collaborations. As Creative Director at New Eelam, she has developed presentations for the 9th Berlin Biennale, the 11th Gwangju Biennale, Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Tensta konsthall in Stockholm and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. She has also worked on exhibitions at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; BFI Miami, Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof, Hamburg; New Galerie, Paris; and she co-curated the exhibition Welt ohne Außenat Gropius Bau, Berlin together with Tino Sehgal and Thomas Oberender. Kuhlmann is associate curator at Schinkel Pavillion, Berlin.
Christopher Kulendran Thomas
Christopher Kulendran Thomas is an artist who manipulates some of the structural processes by which art produces reality. His work has been included in the 7th Bi-City Biennale, Shenzhen (2017); the 11th Gwangju Biennale; the 9th Berlin Biennale; and the 3rd Dhaka Art Summit (all 2016). Recent exhibitions include I Was Raised on the Internet, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2018); New Eelam: Tensta, Tensta konsthall, Stockholm (2017); Christopher Kulendran Thomas; New Galerie, Paris (2017); moving is in every direction, Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin (2017); Bread and Roses, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw (2016); Co-Workers: Network As Artist, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2015) and Art Turning Left: How Values Changed Making, Tate Liverpool (2013). Forthcoming solo exhibitions include Institute for Modern Art, Brisbane and Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin, as well as a new commission with the V-A-C Foundation for the 58th Venice Biennale. Thomas is the founder and CEO of New Eelam (new-eelam.com).