Fact Check: Edited image used to claim wall art disfigured with posters

Art False Poltics

A recent drive to create wall arts around many parts of the country was lauded by many quarters irrespective of political differences, while some concerns were raised more recently about the quality of some of the paintings and whether there should be some guidelines before making decisions on such painting and the conveyed message.

A post on Facebook user called Virajay Vidhuranga posted in Sinhala stating that “අපි මේ රට කොච්චර ලස්සන කරන්න හැදුවත් වැඩක් නෑ.මේ වගේ මිනිස්සු ඉන්නකන්”. that translates to “There’s no point in how much we try to beautify this country, as long as there are people like these”, condemning the act of pasting posters of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on a wall art as shown below.

Facebook LinkArchived Link

We observed that multiple Facebook users have shared the same image with different captions and some of these posts have captions written in a sarcastic manner. There were many responses suggesting that this image is an evidently edited picture and an attempt to downgrade the street painting drive going around the country, hence we decided to investigate the posts. 

Fact Check 

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in a tweet commended the efforts of young groups who took the time and effort to repaint the walls in several cities around the country with imposing caricatures and works of art. The youth had undertaken the work solely on their own accord with no expectation for monetary gains.

In order to ascertain whether the above image was indeed a recent wall painting, that was disfigured; we carried out a simple Google Reverse Image search and found that the image was not part of the recent wave of wall paintings. In fact image was from Mirissa, popular tourist destination, is a small coastal town in Southern Sri Lanka. 

Mirissa is considered as one of the main whale and dolphin watching locations in the country among foreigners as well as domestic tourists. With numerous accommodation and other tourist related facilities springing up in this area, local entrepreneurs voluntarily started to beautify the area, specially inviting the talented guests to engage in wall arts. Murals paintings of Mirissa walls have featured in many tourists blogs as one of the key attractions in the areas as shown below.

A street art guide to MirissaArchived Link

Hence, the image in the claimed post is Elephant/Butterfly mural wall art done by Israeli artist Dana Karen on the wall of Hostel First in Mirissa. We found that many tourists had taken photographs with this unique painting and tagged the original artist Dana Keren’s Instagram Profile.

Tagged Photographs of Dana Keren 

Also in a short video posted on the artists Instagram account we noticed that the original painting was done in March 2019.

Dana Karen Instagram Video 

We closely observed the image in the post of Virajay Vidhuranga.  When we zoomed claimed image with posters of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, noticed that there was a difference in the edge of the wall and the edge of the poster indicating the posters would have been placed on top of the original image taken from the article “A street art guide to Mirissa

We contacted Mr. Manju Sri of Hostel First, Mirissa. He confirmed that the mural artwork is intact and the Facebook post claiming that the art had been vandalized by posters is totally false.

Conclusion:

From our investigation, it is evident the claims that the wall art had been vandalized by posters of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa are totally baseless. Image is created by placing the set of posters on the original image taken from “A street art guide to Mirissa” website which contained a unique Elephant/Butterfly mural wall art done by an Israeli artist Dana Karen.

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Title:Fact Check: Edited image used to claim wall art disfigured with posters

Fact Check By: Sathyajith Subasinghe 

Result: False

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