Mixing artworks and photo reportages by today’s most engaged and famous artists and photojournalists of Myanmar, this exhibition aims at highlighting the status of photographic documents in the making of history and in the building of an identity. It opens a dialogue between current photojournalism and artistic intervention on archival material.
Mainly based on photographs, films and projections, the exhibition reflects the current complex situation in the country. It combines reports from the Rohingya crisis but also from the daily life in Myanmar, the struggles and hopes of the Burmese people, and their heroes from the Anglo-Burmese Wars. Independence, dreams, multi-ethnicity, youth’s visions of the world… these artworks and reports enlarge our perception of the current perspective on Myanmar both looking back and toward the future.
For this project, we are collaborating with Christophe Loviny, founder and director of the Yangon Photo Festival. This festival was created in 2009 just after the Saffron revolution. At that time, Loviny set up a series of photo documentary workshops, first in Yangon and now in different states of the country, with a view to train a young generation of Burmese eager to document the deep social and cultural upheavals taking place in their country. These courses, and the increased popularity of photography lead to the creation of the yearly festival, the first international festival ever held in Myanmar and originally inspired by the renowned French photo festivals Les Rencontres d’Arles and Visa pour l’Image.
We will show a dozen of the laureates’ works under the form of short slideshows, each of them covering a specific theme such as gay marriage, the war in the Kachin State, the yearly weaving competition or the punk population in Myanmar.
Also trained with Loviny, and winner of many awards from the Yangon Photo Festival, the exhibition features photographs by Minzayar Oo, a 29-year old documentary photographer.
Besides his reports from the Rohingya crisis and the topic of jade mining in the country, we will exhibit his 2012 photograph showing Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on the day after the historic by-elections that saw her elected to parliament. This image made Minzayar famous and was published on the front page of the International Herald Tribune.
We also invited a young and very promising photographer, Mayco Naing, whose photographs document the hopes and dreams of the young generation in an intimate way. A self-taught artist, Naing left home at the age of 16 to work in a photo studio in Yangon. After winning the creativity prize at the Yangon Photo Festival, she spent one year in France to study at the French National School of Photography in Arles. Her exhibited series reflects on the young generation's desire to free oneself from fears and to stand out as free individuals.
Additionally, the exhibition features some films by young film directors, in collaboration with Thaid Dhi, filmaker, founder and director of the Wathann film Festival created in 2011 in Yangon (www.wathannfilmfestival.com). A selection of short films and documentaries will be screened on a loop, giving again the voice to a new generation of young Burmese.
By contrast, the work by Wah Nu and Tun Win Aung sheds a new light on these documentaries, questioning their objectivity and value as testimonies of the present. The renowned Burmese artists’ couple modifies archival photographs from the 19th and early 20th century representing prominent heroes from the British colonial period. They question the construction of the past and attempt to re-write history, not anymore from the British point of view but from a Burmese perspective. Their installation, an on-going work started in 2008, was exhibited at the Singapore Biennale in 2016.
Wah Nu and Tun Win Aung "The Name"
How will today’s documentaries be interpreted in the future? The issue of the Rohingya is already bringing forward many controversies in the country: how will the crisis be remembered, and how will the photographers be perceived? What role can the artists play in the transitions, consolidations and transformations of the country ?
Caroline Ha Thuc: the curator
Caroline (b.1974 Paris, France) is a French Hong Kong based art writer and curator. Specialized in Asian contemporary art, she contributes to different magazines such as ArtPress in France and Artomity/Am Post in Hong Kong. As a curator, she focuses on promoting dialogue between artists from different cultures, while reflecting on social and political contemporary issues. Ha Thuc is currently a PhD candidate at the School of Creative Media, CityU Hong Kong
Lalie Choffel : the gallery manager
Lalie (b.1963 Marseille, France) is a French Hong Kong based gallery manager & curator. She has been running CHARBON art space gallery since 2015. CHARBON is a space dedicated to art and culture with a special focus on helping emergent artists and creating opportunities to mix different medias and fields such as fine art, photography, music, contemporary dance, theatre and writing.
Jan Pang: the public relations/digital marketing manager
(b. Hong Kong)
Minzayar Oo : photographer
Minzayar was born in 1988 Yangon, Myanmar. He is a freelance photojournalist and documentary photographer based in Yangon. He studied medicine at Yangon University of Medicine until 2011 when he decided to drop the medical career and pursue his personal interest in visually documenting the transition of his country. His first international breakthrough came in 2012 when his image of Aung San Suu Kyi appeared on the front page of the International Herald Tribune. Since then he's been freelancing for international news agencies, newspapers, magazines and NGOs in and around Myanmar. He has covered numerous important stories and issues in Myanmar, including the long-term political, social and economical transition of the country. He has been visiting Myanmar’s refugee camps since 2012, winning the trust of the Rohingya and photographing them with an intimacy that nobody else has come close to. He has also explored the issues surrounding Myanmar's rarely-accessed, billion-dollar jade mining industry in conflict-torn Kachin State.
Minzayar’s work has been published in TIME, The New York Times, The Guardian, National Geographic, GEO, 6MOIS, La Repubblica and many other publications. He has won multiple awards at the Yangon Photo Festival, the China International Press Photo, the Foreign Correspondent's Club of Thailand's Asia-Pacific Photojournalism Contest (2015), Days Japan International Photojournalism Awards (2016) and the Istanbul Photo Awards. In 2017 he received the Martin Adler prize.
Wah Nu (b.1977, Yangon Myanmar) and Tun Win Aung (b.1975, Ywalut Myanmar)
Both artists graduated from the University of Culture, Yangon, in 1998, Wah Nu with a BA in music, Tun Win Aung with a BA in sculpture. After completing her studies, Wah Nu turned to painting and video, while Tun Win Aung extended his practice to performance, multimedia work, and painting. He has also created several site-specific outdoor installations, often involving Myanmar’s landscape. In addition to working individually, this husband-and-wife pair also collaborate with each other, addressing elements of historical and contemporary culture, established customs and innovative practice.
Their collaborative work was featured in the 11th Asian Art Biennial, Dhaka, Bangladesh (2004); 6th Asia Pacific Triennial, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia (2009–10); Videozone V, Centre for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv (2010); plAy: Art from Myanmar Today, Osage Gallery, Singapore (2010); Video, an Art, a History, 1965–2010, Singapore Art Museum (2011); and Meta-question: Back to the Museum Per Se, 4th Guangzhou Triennial, China (2011), Guggenheim Museum NY (2013), Singapore Biennale (2016).
© Wah Nu & Tun Win Aung
Christophe Loviny: PhotoDoc Association
Created by Christophe Loviny in 2009, PhotoDoc Association is organizing workshops around Myanmar. For the last ten years, it has been training more than 900 visual journalists and social activists to produce powerful stories about human rights, cultural heritage and environmental issues.
PhotoDoc also organises the yearly Yangon Photo Festival. The 10th YPF will take place in February 2018. An audience of over 100,000 enjoyed free admission to the exhibitions and screenings by 80 local and international photographers.
Ian Holliday: lecturer
Ian Holliday is a professor of political science at the Hong Kong University. The scholar, who speaks and reads basic Burmese, is also building one of the largest private collections of Burmese art in the world. He has published more than 100 academic titles on the country including Burma Redux: Global Justice and the Quest for Political Reform in Myanmar, released by Columbia University Press in 2011.
Hkun Lat, Thar Nge, Soe Zeya Tun, Aung Aung Oo, Nay Thway, Sai Htin Linn Htet
Short film directors
Thaid Dhi (Wathann Film Festival)
Founded in 2011, the festival is the very first film festival in Myanmar. Organized by Wathann Film Institute (WFI), it mainly supports independent film production and film education in the country. Its 7th edition was hold in September 2017. Thaid Dhi, its director, is also a film director.
Thu Thu Shein
A freelance filmmaker, born in 1983 in Yangon, Myanmar, she is a graduate of the National University of Arts and Culture’s Cinema and Drama course. Since 2005, she attend several filmmaking workshops and start making documentary films. Some of her Documentary Film has been selected in international film festival. In 2010, she got scholarship to study filmmaking in Czech National Film Academy - FAMU - for 3 year master degree program in English Cinema and Digital Media. In 2011, she co-founded the Wathann Film Festival which is the very first festival in Myanmar. Together with her husband Thaiddhi, she established the Third Floor Production in 2013 and produce films related to social issues. From this production she produce a several documentary films for independent filmmakers from Myanmar.
Lamin Oo graduated from Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania, USA. He has a B.A. in Philosophy and Psychology. He has work experience in the United States as a Market Researcher and a Research Librarian. Upon his return, he has fully dedicated himself to documentary filmmaking. His first directing project titled Homework received the Special Mentions Awards at the 4th Annual Wathann Film Festival in Yangon.
The exhibition opening will be on Friday March 9, 2018 at 6pm . The team and some artists will be present (the presence of artists from Myanmar depends on the budget)
The exhibition will be open to the public at the gallery from March 9 to March 24, 2018
Talks and debate
On the afternoon of Saturday March 10, 2018, Christophe Loviny and Minzayar Oo will share their fieldwork experiences and debate about the current situation in Myanmar.
Depending on the budget, there will be additional talks by artists Wah Nu and Tun Win Aung.
On Wednesday March 14, after the screening, Ian Holliday will share his knowledge of current issues and troubles of Myanmar.
On Wednesday March 14, at 8pm, we will organize a screening of Burma VJ, an Academy Award-nominated film reporting the Saffron Revolution that took place in Burma in 2008. This report played a fundamental role in the history of Burmese documentary: for the first time, citizen-journalists and photojournalists managed to get over censorship and send to international press agencies images of the demonstration and its violent governmental repression (in Burmese with english subtitles).
On Wednesday March 21, at 8pm, screening of a selection of short films by young Burmese film directors, in collaboration with the independent Wathann Film Festival. In particular, films by Thu Thu Shein and Latin Oo (all the short films are presented in Burmese with english subtitles).