This is an essay about the benefit of mini- adventures as a starting point for an art project while travelling.
A mini adventure consists of the mindset to explore and simply find everything interesting. It might be random walks or thought provoking articles. It is not the intention to scrutinise the material at this state. Rather see it as a mixed bowl of absurd, odd or beautiful events that lead to a bigger picture of the travel.
Here are some examples. Each walk took about 3 hours. I use the app, maps.me to find my way. It navigates offline.
1 Daily surroundings, hunting for surprises
The beach of Mirissa is a place I’ve seen nearly every day since the last 10 days. Where a path leads to an island, Chinese tourists gather for a semi professional photoshooting.
I return to the main road and once more, wonder about the cementary culture in the south. People seem to get burried wherever a space can be found. Gravestones are set up in frontyards, near the highway or on single pieces of land. Later on we hear that it is the practice to burry familymembers and relatives on the own land. There is no public cementary in the rural parts of Sri Lanka.
2 Where river and ocean meet, a trial to follow the river from Peleana to Denipitiya
First, it is not possible to wander along the river bed. Mangroves are covering the edges, often there is not even a sandy path to follow. I witness the „good bye“ of three fishermen leaving their friends before embarking on a trip.
3 Visiting Heanwala
A rather uninspiring walk until I come to the rails where these boys attempt to set a huge kite up in the air. I made several film clips to work with later on.
4 In Weligamas backyard
Weligama is our shopping hub. But just behind the busy streets lie green fields, and in close neighbourhood to each other, three buddhist temples. This one has about 40 life sized monks on the upper terrace leading to a golden buddha statue.
5 Sri Lankas most southern point, Dewinuwara
Nothing to see here beside the lighthouse and a rugged beach.
6 Turkish village of Walgama
Once upon a time Walgama and a village in Turkey formed a band of frienship. This is what is left for the visitor…
7 Internal adventure
I sit in a cafe and rumble through the meagre collection of english magazines that are carelessly collected in an overflowing basket. I spot a hard covered one, it’s headline: ‚Colombo‘. To my delight it contains several essays from the Sri Lankan writer Wimarshana Wijesuriya. Dealing with contemporary aspects of his society the author strives to uncover sociological underpinnings of his fellow citizen. Being brought up partly in the UK, and having returned to his country, he feels compelled to hold a mirror in their face. The critisiszm is harsh, but well underlined with behavioural examples to illustrate his point of view.
In his essay about buddhism he puts his view to test by asking:
– Is buddhism a religion or a philosophy, in any way superior to other religions? A philosophy in this case would inherit to have a scientific background.
– A main belief of buddhists is rebirth, the cycle of life. Wijesuriya makes clear that no proof of rebirth exists, and that the re-occuring event of children stating they remember their former life is hardly evidence. He compares the brain/identity of a person with a computer. If the motherboard is damaged, which equals the death of a person, it is hardly possible to bring back the set up that was installed by the user, including apps and personal preferences.
He gives the example of a composer. If the musician dies before having finished a piece of music, it is impossible to write it like he would have. No one alive, even his closest collegues will be able to re-create the same idea the composer may have had. They might come close, knowing his preferences and aims, nevertheless their own taste and knowledge will influence the composition.
– He then ponders, if reincarnation would take place, where do all the souls for the new bodies come from? After all, the population of mankind is on a rapid rise since several years.
– And if the only path in buddhism to happiness is detachment, does that mean death, as complete detachment, is the only way to reach Nirwana?
– Finally: Who wrote the holy books? Did God create man or did man create God?
Buddhism, stupas, temples are all around Sri Lanka. It’s hard to find an area without them. They often cover a huge area of land, are home to monks or more or less deserted. People bring gifts for offerings, but generally there is not much going on. A main critic of Wijesuriya is that lots of money is blown on temples while the country needs a better education system.
At this point I feel that I need to find out more about buddhism and it’s impact on Sri Lanka. Nevertheless the topic of religion is a difficult one and I am not sure yet how to approach and combine it in my work.
Keep on exploring…