A note from the Artist

Offerings are part of an ongoing project exploring the theme of blindness, the blurring of visibility and the literal and psychological whitewashing of ethnic identity in the aftermath and afterlife of war in the context of post-war Sri Lanka.

This chapter, entitled Offerings, portrays a series of hands belonging to one family of survivors from the Northern district of Mullaitivu. Shot in varying degrees of visibility the photographs are coupled with hand written texts inscribed directly onto the surfaces of the images by the survivors themselves.

Acknowledging the significance of the hand as an organ of performance the images work in unison with the accompanying texts to go to the heart of the feelings of one set of survivors who bore direct witness to the final months of fighting from the shorelines of the no fire zone.

Offerings give these survivors both form and voice to express their emotions to the outside world providing them with an avenue for traumas and emotions to surface empowering them as victims and transforming them into active agents working for change.

Previously when I asked one of the survivors how he felt he described a burning sensation deep inside. After he wrote on the images I asked him again and he told me it felt like the burning sensation had been reduced.

Translations of the texts have been offered in both English and Sinhala with the kind help of Dilma Ishwara.

To contact the artist or for any enquiries regarding this project please contact info@srilankacampaign.org

Offerings

How to chase a woman, strip her and kill her?
How to aim at a small child with a gun?
How to dance on the chest of the dead?
How to spit on the face of the Tamils left behind?
O World, don’t forget to learn these from our motherland Sri Lanka.

නී ජ්නයිනි සිහි තබායගන – ඉයගනගන් ලංකාව නේ අයප මවු බියමන්මුලින් නිරුවත්
කරන අන්දම හඹා යගොස් අංගනාවක්
කුඩා දරුයවක් යවතට එල්ලෙ ගන්න හැටි බයියනත්තුවක්
හුදකලා යදමයළකුයග මුහුණට ගහන හැටි එක් යකළ පිඩක්
නටන තාලෙ තුටින් උඩපැන පාග පාගා හදවතක්

We don’t need a motherland to live.
To call the names of those,
to drench in the memories of those who died fighting for our land
both these hands will always join together asking
give us freedom.

අයේ යපොළවට යුද වැදී මළ උන්යග නායමන් කෑ ගසන්නට
එවන් මතයකන් නිති යතයමන්නට අපට ඕනද මව්බිමක්
දෑත් එක්යකොට අෙැද සිටියනමු
යදන්න අපටත් නිදහසක්

We demanded our rights in the way of Gandhi
Yet we were abandoned.
We rebelled against the Black July riots,
Yet we were forsaken by the world.
What is remaining at the expense of lost lives
are these hands.

ඉල්ලුයව් අපි අයේ අයිතිෙ ගාන්ධි උතුමන් වයේ
කළු ජූලිෙට එදිරිවයි අපි – කැරලි ගසමින් ගියෙ මයේ
අනාථව ගිෙ අසරණුන් කර යලොවම අප හැර යගොස් වයේ
මළවුන්යග නායමන් ඉතිරි වී ඇත්යත අත් විතරයි වයේ

A country that cannot cry for the dead.
A country that deemed their grave an infamy and effaced it.
A country that refused the right to live.
To control the tears, mouths shut
we are pleading with our hands for freedom
at least to shed tears.

දිවියෙ අයිතිෙ උදුරගත් – මළවුන්ට නාඬන යේශෙක්
ින්දිතව වැළලී මැකී ෙන්නට – සිහින දකිනා රාජ්යෙක්
කඳුළු සඟවන් මුව වසා අප – යදෝත පා අෙදින්යන යේ
අවම තරමින් අපට ෙැයි හඬා වැයටනට නිදහසක්