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KENO/KINO & Last syllable of time

Pavitra Wickramasinghe tells the forgotten stories of abandoned vessels.



Dartmouth waterfront, and Halifax waterfront on docks in front of the Marriott Hotel facing the ferry landing.

The scene is still. So still, in fact, you might forget you're watching a film, if not for the soft waves in the background. The images centre around a boat, resting on its side, one that hasn't felt the waves unfurling in the background for many years. If you're waiting for something to happen, for the boat to crumble or return to the sea, it won't. The stillness is, in fact, the point of the piece: Sri Lanka is "a place I don't get to visit very often, so for me it's frozen in time...And even though the civil war has been over for 10 years, there's still memories of it," and that frozen, unchanged feeling drove Pavitra Wickramasinghe, the artist who filmed this piece (titled Last Syllable of Time) to film an overturned boat on a lonely Sri Lankan shore for days.

Wickramasinghe, a multimedia artist specializing in film and based in Montreal, has since been making it her mission to create these portraits of abandoned ships, building a body of work surrounding found vessels and their forgotten stories.

It's taken her from the shores of the Indian Ocean in Sri Lanka to Dawson City, Yukon where her second film, KENO/KINO. was shot over weeks in frigid -40 temperatures. "It was like the town was frozen in wind, no animals, it's just really still. I'm captivated by boats, by potential movement being still—it's kind of an eerie, unsettling sight to come across them," Wickramasinghe explains.

The hours upon hours of film, characterized by a minimalist style and lots of long, lingering shots, took about two years to edit, she estimates.

And while both boats haven't travelled anywhere in a long time, they're now bringing Wickramasinghe to Halifax. During Nocturne, the Halifax-Dartmouth ferry route will be punctuated by both pieces, playing in a loop at either ferry terminal. It's the first time the works have been shown together, and she's excited for the experience of viewing them "from a boat surrounded by totally different water."

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