BY DARSH SENEVIRATNE
Being raised by a Sri Lankan father meant pieces of his culture were scattered throughout our home and daily life. It has been strange but intriguing to watch how all these parts of my upbringing are now weaving their way into my everyday interactions in the cultural climate of Australia.
Drawaing inspiration from William Christenberry’s musings of rural Alabama and Lyndal Iron’s raw documentation of Sydney’s notorious Parramatta Road, my series “Paradise Fell“ aims to capture a portrait of my father’s home country of Sri Lanka - a nation struggling to define themselves in a post-war economic climate.
In only my second visit to Sri Lanka, I began a photographic exploration of the effects that the civil war and tsunami had on the landscape and its inhabitants. With an aim to visit wartom Jaffina in the north, and surfing hotspot Trincomalee and Arugambay on the east, my father and I retraced a route he had travelled with his family fifty year prior. Many areas we visited were quite sensitive: roofless, shells of houses with years of vegetation regrowth claiming back the structure; abandoned factories still manned by military checkpoints; parts of the city still inaccessible.
In a way, Sri Lanka is the quintessential battler. Rebuilding a society, both physically and psychologically, after a twenty-six year civil war and a deadly tsunami that killed over thirty thousand people is no simple task. Add to that the exponential influx of tourism and the economic politics it brings, and you have a country struggling to focus on the necessities, neglecting their people, and falling to rebuild what was so violently taken away.
Sri Lanka is going through a rapid development that it is not que ready for, and to this I wanted to turn a camera to further explore with an open-minded, positive conscience, and to shoot with respect and purpose.
Darsh Seneviratne is a twenty-four year old photographer specialising in series-based work. With a passion for documentation and collection cultivated from a young age, his series range from being compiled over a few days to several years. Drawing on technical knowledge founded in traditional analogue photography, Seneviratne documents personal spaces and their inherent human interactions, collecting momentary happenings and structured portraits. These scenes compile series that seek to highlight the lasting traces of people. With a thorough focus on colour and image structure, and bound by the precision of accuracy demanded by analogue technology, Seneviratne creates these series to serve as a reflection of human interaction with per- sonal and public realms and how we perceive them.