photographs • documentary films • talks
an exhibition curated by Caroline HA THUC
9 - 24 March 2018
See complete programmes here
A non-profit exhibition of Burmese photographs, short films and artist-modified images revolving around the power and subjectivity of the documentary.
The project invites photojournalists and artists in an attempt to deepen and enlarge the debate that is currently mainly focused on the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, taking on board the recent events in all their historical significance.
The team is working on a voluntary basis, and the gallery space is graciously lend by CHARBON, including technical fees. All benefits of the event (donations & sales) will go to MyME organization.
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 (YPF http://www.yangonphoto.com/). 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.
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 ?