An excerpt from the catalogue essay.
“A team of researchers has discovered, with the help of residents of the area, a new large species of the genus Bangarusa making its home in a rock cave at an ancient archeological site near Medawachchiya, Sri Lanka. This highly venomous snake ‘whose staple diet is human flesh appears to be an unusual kind’, Dr Pahan Jayakody, a herpetologist told ACR News. Scientific research has confirmed that Bungarus ceylonicus or Sri Lanka krait and Panthera leo or Lion were the evolutionary relatives of this unique species. The newfound species, named Bangarusa panthera is the newest addition to the list of endemic fauna of Sri Lanka, a globally important centre of endemism. Deputy Director of the Institute of Archeology and Ancient Civilisations, Professor Ravindra Palangasinge, a world renowned zooarchaeologist said; ‘this two headed reptile had been documented by Edward Charles Gordon, a colonial era archaeologist on a plastered wall of the rock cave. He described it as a mythical creature in Buddhist-Sinhala art and dated it to 3rd century A.D. i.e. Anurdhapura period. It was only in the last century, that this colourful ancient work of art was given life and slowly gathered strength to prey on humans’. People, particularly young men and women have been disappearing for sometime in the area. Aggrieved family members of nearby Sinhala and Tamil villages, wandering in search of their loved ones who had fallen victim to this two headed snake, paved way to its discovery”. – Elaine Balmond, ACR News, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, 18 May 2009.
(My collaborators in this work were Danushka Marasinghe, Prasad Hettiarachchi and Isuru Kumarasinghe.)
Commissioned by Casula Power House Arts Centre.
Jagath Dheerasekara, Bangarusa Panthera, 2021. Installation view, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, 2021