Thamotharampillai Shanaathanan | Trans/formations: Archiving in Art

Talk by Jaffna-based artist and educator Thamotharampillai Shanaathanan.

Shanaathanan discusses four art projects created since 2004 based on ideas of 'home' within the context of ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. Drawing parallels between methods of archiving and art making, he considers the transformative potential of both processes and attempts to delineate their boundaries. 

He also describes his experiences as an artist, art educator, and co-founder of the Sri Lanka Archive of Contemporary Art, Architecture, and Design (SLAAD). The first archive of its kind in the country, SLAAD is an important resource of books and printed matter on contemporary Sri Lankan visual art and theory. 

A conversation follows with AAA Head of Research & Programmes Hammad Nasar on Shanaathanan's participation in the Sri Lanka (2013) and Myanmar (2014) editions of AAA's Mobile Library programme, a periodic initiative organised in partnership with cultural collaborators throughout Asia to provide a platform for the exchange of ideas and material.  

Installation view of 'Imag(in) Home' at the Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver, Canada, 2009.
Installation view of 'Imag(in) Home' at the Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver, Canada, 2009.
Courtesy of the artist.


Thamotharampillai Shanaathanan is a visual artist living and working in Jaffna, Sri Lanka. 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 Project, The 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.

Shanaathanan will also participate in 15 Invitations, a special programme series marking Asia Art Archive's 15-year anniversary.

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