LT November 2015 | A Moment of Silence: The Art of Memorialization By Saskia Fernando

The art of memorialization is by definition the role art plays in remembrance, reconciliation, healing and initiating a dialogue amongst those affected by war and trauma. It is commonplace for art to be a facilitator in the process of memorialization as it has the ability to juxtapose the tangible and intangible that influence it’s audience. One that stands out to me particularly is the Memorial to the Murdered Jew of Europe in Berlin, designed by architect Peter Eisenman and designed to produce an ‘uneasy, confusing atmosphere’. The responsive debates that ensued after it’s completion have gone a long way in creating the platform needed to continue the long drawn out process of healing that proves the effect that such an artistic design architectural statement can make.

ABDUL-HALIK AZEEZ, Say No to BBS Aluthgama, 2014, limited edition print on canvas, 18x12in

I was first asked to approach this subject by Sanjana Hattotuwa as moderator of one of his talks during the program titled ‘Watch this space: Framing the past, untying the future’. The event created a forum around the international annual exhibition by Art Raker presenting conflict art from around the world. Together with my colleagues from varying art backgrounds we approached the subject in a Sri Lankan context analyzing the ability and measurability of such art practices. As a gallerist there are a handful of artists whom I represent whose work has continuously to-date focused on the subject of memorialization often through its documentary nature as well as their confrontation of the current affairs in Sri Lanka during and post war. Abdul Halik Azeez and Thamotharampillai Shanaathanan both hail from Sri Lankan minority groups and their entire portfolio of work focuses on the subjects faced by these communities. What was interesting in the responses to the subject was the simple discovery that their art created an archive of stories that through their exhibition played a large part in the process of memorialization.

MUVINDU BINOY, 2015, Cocktail II, digital collage print on canvas, 59 x 41cm

Memorialization does not immediately refer to memorials; it is undoubtedly a process that has no identifiable ending. The ability of art to transcend periods of time and trends often makes it the most suitable medium in communicating to a public the importance of reconciliation, healing and remembrance. Based on this information the images that accompany this article are an open-ended statement for a moment of silence that metaphorically concludes this article.

Original post can be viewed here

Featured Images :

  1. Chandraguptha Thenuwara, This is Not a White Flag VII, 2012, Mixed Media on Board, 51 x 61 cm
  2. Abdul-Halik Azeez, Say No to BBS Aluthgama, 2014, Limited edition print on canvas, 18 x 12 inches
  3. Muvindu Binoy, 2015, Cocktail II, Digital collage print on canvas, 59 x 41 cm



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