In collaboration with Annika Kuhlmann
Installation view: ‘I Was Raised on the Internet’, MCA Chicago; Courtesy the artist
Experience suite with videos, hydroponic home-farming systems, lightbox, website and ‘Skin Deep I’ (2014) & ‘Skin Deep II’ (2014) by Asela Gunasekara (both purchased from Art Space Sri Lanka)
With the generous support of The Plant, Happy Leaf, Blu Dot, Exhibition Flooring and Schlep
Courtesy of the artist
Commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
With thanks to DIS; Tensta konsthall, Stockholm; Institute for Modern Art, Brisbane; Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin
New Eelam is a long-term artwork in the form of a startup. This real estate technology company has been founded by the artist - in collaboration with curator Annika Kuhlmann - to develop a flexible global housing subscription that aims to make homes as streamable as music or movies. The subscription-based model for a distributed housing system will offer global citizens flexible access to high-quality apartments around the world, while the trading of the revolving property portfolio can, over time, progressively subsidise the cost of the subscription. Basing the business plan on collective ownership rather than private property, New Eelam proposes a long-term strategy for how a new economic model could evolve out of the present system – through the luxury of communalism rather than of individual ownership.
Christopher Kulendran Thomas’ family is from a place that no longer exists. For three decades during the Sri Lankan civil war, Eelam was self-governed as an autonomous state led by a neo-Marxist revolution. But the Tamil people’s independence movement was crushed brutally in 2009 by an authoritarian government protected by the cloak of national sovereignty. Now, charting an alternative trajectory from one of the darkest chapters of the recent history of globalisation, Thomas asks what a new Eelam could be if it was reimagined as a distributed network rather than a territorially-bounded nation – a new Eelam for all, where citizenship could be a choice, not a hereditary privilege.
Christopher Kulendran Thomas works through the structural operations of art, by which art’s circulation and distribution produces reality. His ongoing work When Platitudes Become Form (ongoing since 2013) features original artworks by some of Sri Lanka’s foremost young contemporary artists, purchased in the island’s current ‘peacetime’ economic boom and then reconfigured for international circulation within Thomas’ own compositions. This process translates what counts as contemporary across the global contours of power by which the ‘contemporary’ itself is conditioned.