Book Launch of ‘The A to Z of Conflict’ commissioned and published by Raking Leaves in 2019 with Abdul Halik Azeez, Muhanned Cader, Arjuna Gunarathne, Nina Mangalanayagam, Nillanthan, Anomaa Rajakaruna, T.Shanaathanan, Anushiya Sundaralingam, Chandraguptha Thenuwara and Kamala Vasuki

‘The A to Z of Conflict’ is a tri-lingual artists’ book by ten Sri Lankan contemporary artists. It imagines what a commonplace children’s ABC book would look like if all the entries were chosen in relation to words about conflict, and words borne out of conflict. The project uses English, Sinhala, and Tamil, the three languages spoken in Sri Lanka, a country torn apart by a brutal civil war. From afar the compendium of entries testifies to the ways language defines us linguistically, socially and politically. Up close it reveals how the complex workings of language have the potential to conjoin and divide us. Each copy of ‘The A to Z of Conflict’ is bound in one of six combinations, reflecting how three languages can be positioned without giving one language greater status over the other. Drawing on the history of language conflict in Sri Lanka, this  tri-lingual artists’ book serves as a collective means to think about how language rights, exclusion, status, and planning might serve us better in the future than they have in the past.

‘The A to Z of Conflict’ is the culmination of 5-years’ work involving ten contemporary artists living in London, Stockholm, Galle, Jaffna, Batticaloa, Belfast, and Colombo. working in collaboration with an international team of designers, editors and translators based in New York, Toronto, Jaffna, Delhi and Colombo.

‘The A to Z of Conflict’ Artists:

Abdul Halik Azeez                                                       Anomaa Rajakaruna

Muhanned Cader                                                         Kamala Vasuki

Arjuna Gunarathne                                                     Chandraguptha Thenuwara

Nina Mangalanayagam                                              Anushiya Sundaralingam

Nillanthan                                                                      T.Shanaathanan

“Questioning the conflicting ideologies and dual standards used by people who want to impose power has been central to my art practice for many years. Contributing to ‘The A to Z of Conflict’ provided an extended forum to share many of my ideas through language and in the form of a book’”

Kamala Vasuki, Artist, ‘The A to Z of Conflict’

“Although ‘The A to Z of Conflict’ can be read as a representation of conflict at many levels in a particular historical moment: among languages, visuals, emotions, ideologies it’s productive energy came from the act of translation at many layers: from one language to another; emotions to words; words to visuals,visuals to emotions.

My approach in this project was to archive or document words that came to existence or gained new meaning due to the civil war.”

T.Shanaathanan, Artist, ‘The A to Z of Conflict’

“This is an extremely imaginative and innovative trilingual compendium of concepts and words associated with conflict, explained in the text and through art.  It challenges our imagination, indeed, it touches our conscience, sparks off debate and even argument as it most importantly brings us together in the conversation of why we are one. This is an exceptional contribution to reconciliation and unity in Sri Lanka and an invaluable addition to understanding our past and charting our future on the founding principle of Unity in Diversity.”

Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu. Executive Director, Centre for Policy Alternatives

“The A-Z of Conflict will instantly become one of the most important Sri Lankan art books of our time. Beautiful, brutal and true- it has the power of poetry.”

Sonali Deraniyagala, Writer and Economist

“The process of creating ‘The A to Z of Conflict’ was, for me, an act of collective memory: the conflict related words proposed by both artists and editors, the images created by artists, the definitions and translations working together to reflect on our experience of conflict. Intimately experiencing each other’s memories across languages, histories, spaces and media through this process changed us.”

Dinithi Karunanayake, Senior Editor, ‘The A to Z of Conflict’

‘The A to Z of Conflict’ Senior Editors:

R. Cheran                                                                       Ruhanie Perera

Dinithi Karunanayake                                                 Geetha Sukumaran

Sharmini Pereira                                                          T. Shanaathanan

‘The A to Z of Conflict’ Editorial Team:

Pathum Egodawatte                                                     Ruth Surenthiraraj

Sharni Jayawardena                                                    Samitha Widyasekara

Kosala Senevirathne                                                    Vimala Velthas

Karmegam Shanmugavel                                           Praveen Tilakaratne

‘The A to Z of Conflict’ Translators:

Achinthiya Bandara                                                     Saminadan Wimal

R. Cheran                                                                       Geetha Sukumaran

Somasuntharampillai                                                  Praveen Tilakaratne

Pathmanathan                                                              Sathyaseelan Sathyaraj

‘The A to Z of Conflict’ Designer:

Emile Molin

‘The A to Z of Conflict’ was commissioned and published by Raking Leaves in 2019 and was generously supported by the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development, Stichting Doen and 148 Kickstarter Backers. Raking Leaves commissions and publishes art projects in the form of books and collector’s editions. Established in 2005, Raking Leaves is an award winning, non-profit curatorial publisher based in Sri Lanka.