“There is uncertainty,” exhales Lalindra Amarasekara, visual technologist and founder of Colombo-based creative studio Cyber Illusions. “Right now, it’s not about creating art. It’s come tot he point where everybody is thinking about survival and what the next few months will be like.”
Last year in Sri Lanka, job losses coupled with economic contraction precipitated by the pandemic caused inflation to hit a record high of over 11 percent, escalating the prices of basic goods. On 1 September, 2021, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared an economic emergency. The World Bank estimates that 500,000 people have already fallen below the poverty line.
“I see people asking for rice, saying that they have no one giving them jobs,” explains Nigel Perera, producer and co-founder of Sri Lankan electronic imprint Jambutek Recordings. “It’s hard for someone to keep doing something creative. People are just trying to keep their families afloat.”
The military was granted the power to sell essential items at prices set by the government, but this has not eased tension among citizens. There are now legitimate fears that the country could be declared bankrupt by the end of 2022. “The resources are mismanaged,” sighs poet and experimental ambient musician Imaad Majeed. “We have water [and] power cuts every day. Things are pretty dire.”