Break the Cinnamon Branch

Performance on video x 4

Break the Cinnamon Branch takes its name from a law dealing with cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) imposed in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) during Dutch colonial rule. Cinnamon was native to the island and a ubiquitous ingredient in local cuisine. This particular law mandated capital punishment for the locals for a series of so called offences including the destruction of a cinnamon plant, unauthorised peeling of its bark, private trade in cinnamon, and transportation of cinnamon.

In this series of performances, I explore the routine performance of cooking. Memories of my childhood, expressions of my mother’s love, and the joy of making my favourite dishes are enlaced within these explorations. I attempt to interrogate notions of belonging and integration through casually charged encounters my family and I experienced in Australia and certain patriarchal values that were deeply seated in Sri Lanka where I grew up. The enduring legacy that the island’s colonial past has foisted on me too has not escaped from these interrogations.


(My collaborators in this work were Sarah Rodigari and Ludwig Haddad.)

Commissioned by Campbelltown Arts Centre for Campbelltown 2020