T. Shanaathanan - The Incomplete Thombu

An unexpected yet poignant artist’s book, commenting on the tragic civil war in Sri Lanka from 1983-2009. A “thombu” is a Dutch term for a public land registry. This beautifully designed project records the displacement of Tamil people in an achingly personal way: each entry is a simple floor plan, drawn from memory by a displaced Tamil-speaking citizen. A vellum overlay with an architect’s crisp drawing makes the lost home “real” in yet another way. Drawings are accompanied by the name of the person who lost their home, their profession, and a brief interview, telling the story of the upheaval and the memories they took with them. The maps vividly reveal what was lost in a conflict that lasted more than 30 years. A moving example of how art and politics can intersect.