“Between Lockdowns” by Krisztina Czika (2020)
“Between Lockdowns” is a series of five photographs printed on concrete.
The title is a reference to the specific time and circumstances when the photographs were taken in Sri Lanka (1991) and the time that artist Krisztina Czika found the negatives from these photos 30 years later (2020).
Little is known about the people in the photos even though a small, enthusiastic team of researchers discovered the history and locations of most of them. The group of Sri Lankan youngsters visible in the photos was traveling around Sri Lanka in January and February of 1991, visiting popular tourist destinations throughout the island, including Adam’s Peak, Isurumuniya Temple, and Ruwanweli Maha Seya. Between 1983 and 2009, the Sri Lankan Civil War was taking place and forced the population into strict lockdowns. This meant there were only a few short months of freedom where it was safe to travel.
Krisztina traveled to Sri Lanka in 2019 to participate in an artist residency. The Coronavirus pandemic started 3 months after she arrived, however, her residency was canceled due to strict lockdown measures. Not only was her residency canceled, but she also found herself stuck in Sri Lanka for 8 months since the borders closed almost immediately. The artist found these negatives one day when the curfew was lifted for a few hours to enable citizens to do groceries and stock up on food. Whilst taking her trash out to the street, she found a pack of negatives in the debris. Because of the lack of tools and machines, Krisztina wasn’t able to see the content of the negatives until she returned to her studio in Amsterdam in August 2020.
These found negatives and photos are a unique reminder of the fortunate times and blessed moments in between the unknown and challenging times that both the artist and the Sri Lankan youth had to endure.
The erosion of the negatives printed on the concrete surfaces creates a fascinating visual detail, while the concrete itself preserves the captured moments. Also, much like memory itself, concrete is a composite material that hardens or cures over time. By enlarging and preserving these photos, the artist passes the visual memory of blessed moments during a civil war onto the next generation.