15 Invitations for 15 Years

A special programme series featuring exhibitions, projects, written works, performances, a blog, and set of e-dossiers marking Asia Art Archive's 15-year anniversary.

The Jaffna-based artist and AAA Mobile Library collaborator develops an art project, the first in an ongoing series, that archives the experience of multiple displacements behind individuals associated with the letter press and studio photography between 1950 and 2000 in Jaffna, Sri Lanka.

Studio photography and the printing industry of the 19th century were displaced by the introduction of digital technology in the late-20th century across the world. Sri Lanka underwent a cycle of physical displacement due to thirty years of civil war. Combined with these factors, the lack of recognition of these underexplored practices in written art history, and inadequate documentation of them in current visual art archives, have produced a gap in which these important agents of modernity are missing in art historical narratives.
This art project aims to address these displacements through an archive that documents the personal histories of studio photography and letter press practitioners, interlacing techniques through a method of conversation; collection of material such as photographs, printed matter, and drawings; and a collage of memory, oral history, and text—culminating in the form of a library index card box that plays with the idea of the archive, memory, and index.

Image: Thamotharampillai Shanaathanan, Cabinet of Resistance I, 2016.
Image: Thamotharampillai Shanaathanan, Cabinet of Resistance I, 2016. Photo: Kitmin Lee 2017.

Thamotharampillai Shanaathanan is a visual artist living and working in Jaffna, Sri Lanka. He is founder of the Sri Lankan Archive for Contemporary Art, Architecture & Design. His work has been exhibited widely in Sri Lanka and at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC, Vancouver; Queensland Art Gallery, South Brisbane; Museum of Ethnology, Vienna; Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi; among others. His artist books include The One Year Drawing ProjectThe Incomplete Thombu, and A–Z of Conflict (forthcoming). He holds a degree in painting from the University of Delhi and a PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University. He is currently Senior Lecturer in Art History, Department of Fine Arts, Jaffna University and advisor on Sri Lanka's national curriculum for teaching art in schools.

15 Invitations for 15 Years is supported by the S. H. Ho Foundation Limited, the C. K. & Kay Ho Foundation, and The Hong Kong Arts Development Council. The programme is part of the ADC 20th Anniversary Celebration Series. Special thanks to Hani Charaf, Kemistry Design.

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Mobile Library is a periodic initiative organised in partnership with cultural collaborators in different countries throughout Asia to provide a platform for the exchange of ideas.