A Smiling Man and a hidden snake

Yurian Quintanas

2016 - Ongoing

Sri Lanka

"A Smiling Man and a Hidden Snake" is a work that was born from the personal perceptions and contradictions that I experienced during my trip to the coasts of Sri Lanka. When you travel to a country for the first time it’s inevitable to be influenced by some predetermined stereotypes that mark your first impression of the place. When I landed in Sri Lanka for the first time, I found a different country from what I read in the travel guides. I went to Sri Lanka as a tourist, to enjoy the idyllic beaches, the food, the culture of a different country and to see if people were smiling all the time like I read in the internet forums. But what I found was a bit different. Most of the beaches are full of rubbish, the only clean beaches were in front of the five-star hotels. People were very friendly, but as I expected, they don't smile all the time. They told me stories about their past, stories about war about natural disasters and about the loss of the loved ones. And then there was the issue about the snakes and the scorpions. According to the information, Sri Lanka has the largest number of poisonous animals in the world, every day I controlled carefully the room, the bathroom and my shoes to see if there was a beast waiting to bite me, I never found one, neither at the hotel rooms nor at the streets or at the jungle.

What I found was a country trying to recover from a devastating past. Over the recent years the Sinhalese people has witnessed a devastating destruction. Invasions, internal wars and natural disasters, terrible events that inevitably marked the nature of this population that is still digesting its complicated past and slowly restoring their lives. The intention here is not to create an entirely truthful document about the lives of Sinhalese people, or a protest against human injustices, but to create a narrative focusing my eyes on what can not be seen superficially, on the darkness that remains in the condition of this country and on the state of alert of a society that knows that danger can come from every corner.

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