Exhibition: Fighting Fear #whatshappeninginmyanmarnow – New Mandala

Kyaw Htoo Bala, We Make Art in Peace Series, 2021, inkjet print on matte poster paper, 46 x 46 cm

8 May — 5 June 2021
16 Albermarle Street
Newtown 2042 Australia
Thu to Sat 11am — 5 pm
by appointment
www.16albermarle.com

Fighting Fear is an exhibition presenting a unique cross-section of the social activism prompted by the coup—an outpouring of passionate anger and disappointment, and a hardening resolve not to be cowed. It is staged in association with Myanm/art, a contemporary art space in Yangon, and has been curated by Myanm/art’s founding director Nathalie Johnston. Some of the artists show at Myanm/art (Bart Was Not Here, Soe Yu Nwe, Richie Htet) while others are part of the broader scene in which Myanm/art operates (Emily Phyo, Kyaw Htoo Bala, Thee Oo). Some are well known in their own right (Sawangwongse Yawnghwe, Hkun Lat), others work as street artists (Baka), graphic designers (Ku Kue), rappers or animators (882021), and have felt compelled to respond to events.

The majority of the artworks did not begin life as artworks. They were responses to be carried in marches or posted on social media, and have been contributed by the artists to this exhibition to spread the word about what’s happening in Myanmar. They were assembled digitally by Nathalie in Yangon and downloaded in Sydney for commercial printing.

Soe Yu Nwe, Spring Revolution February Salute, 2021, inkjet print on matte poster paper, 74 x 54 cm

At the request of the artists, 16albermarle have editioned the individual works and they will be for sale at the exhibition or from on their website. With widespread unrest and no tourism, Myanmar’s art scene has closed down and artists are struggling to put food on the table. After the cost of file preparation and printing is deducted, proceeds will go to the artists. Fighting Fear will be opened at 3pm Saturday 8 May and will run until Saturday 5 June.

Curators

Nathalie Johnston
Myanm/art’s founding director Nathalie Johnston is a curator, researcher and archivist based in Myanmar. She founded Myanm/art in 2016 as a project space and resource centre, in order to further investigate contemporary Myanmar art, assist in collaborations between creative fields in Yangon and international cities, and promote artists and their work to national and international audiences. Nathalie began her work in Myanmar in 2009, completed her MA thesis on the evolution of performance art in Myanmar in 2010, and has organised numerous projects since, including 7000 Padauk, Myanmar Art Resource Centre and Archive (MARCA), TS1 Yangon, Mobile Library Myanmar. She has curated exhibitions in Tokyo, Singapore, Stockholm, Colombo and Pingyao. She
is a member of the Pyinsa Rasa art collective.

Sid Kaung Sett Lin
One of Pyinsa Rasa art collective’s key program managers, Sid is a curator, culture project leader and creative consultant based in Yangon. Before all the curations and art projects, he worked at the Yangon Heritage Trust, which functions mainly for the heritage conversations and advocates on protecting the city’s buildings and spaces. Coming back to his home country in 2016, Sid has organized local art projects in Yangon, Myitkyina, Hpa-an and Mawlamyine, regionally. He also worked for the Wathann Film Festival, consulted researchers and artists from the late Burmese Contemporary art scene, and built local hip hop programs. Since becoming a partner of Myanm/art, he has curated exhibitions and seeded the digitizing of the project Myanmar Art Resource
Centre and Archive (MARCA).

Emily Phyo, #Response365 2021, inkjet print on matte poster paper, 46 x 46 cm

Participating artists

882021 is a visual artist/musician from Myanmar who makes music videos that focus on the current revolution. The name 882021 is a both combination of the two years (1988 and 2021) in which major protests took place against the military of Myanmar, and based on the hex colour #882021, which is the color of dried blood.

Sawangwongse Yawnghwe was born in a jungle camp in Burma’s Shan State in 1971. His grandfather was Sao Shwe Thaik, the first president of the Union of Burma after independence, until
he died at the hands of Tatmadaw in the first recorded military coup in Burma in 1962. Sawangwongse fled to Thailand in 1972 and escaped to Canada in 1985. He moved to Tuscany in 1990 to work in the studio of Heinrich Nicolaus. Together, they founded the art duo Dormice in 1999, and the Museum of Modern Art Panzano in 2007. Most of Sawangwongse’s artwork is about the history of Burma. He interrogates the stories and tragedies of a failed state.

Sawangwongse Yawnghwe, Myanmar Workers Unite! 2021, inkjet print on matte poster paper, 112 x 89 cm

Hkun Lat is a documentary photographer from Myanmar. He works on his own projects and on assignment from international news media and organizations. He started shooting his projects for
people to recognize and to witness ongoing and unsolved issues in Myanmar such as civil war, natural resources and environmental issues, drugs and opium out-rooting movements in Kachin State. His photography has won many international awards.

Emily Phyo is a performance artist and founder of WOMYN NOW performance art collective. She is also a tailor and owns a small shop in a market in Yangon. In recent years she has combined her keen interest in feminism, political activism and the social fabric of society to create durational, documentary performance works over year-long periods.

Bart Was Not Here, Untitled, 2021, inkjet print on matte poster paper, 46 x 46 cm

Bart Was Not Here (aka Kyaw Moe Khine) was tempted by the tags and bubble letters painted on the streets, growing up in Yangon. He began “experimenting” with spray cans in the 8th grade. He gave himself the alias “Bart Was Not Here” after the character in The Simpsons, alluding to the tongue-in-cheek quality in his artworks. Bart’s expressions in his art on or off the walls are a mix of text and image juxtaposing Burmese and imported cultural norms.

Thee Oo Thazin is a freelance copywriter, Illustrator and graphic designer. Because of her interest in movies and music, her works mostly have an earthy or vintage style. Women, flora and fauna have been her highest inspirations. Her artworks celebrate mankind, the errors we make, the marks we leave, the sins we commit, the arts we create, the beliefs we fight for and the love we dream of.

Kyaw Htoo Bala is a Fine Arts photography graduate from Lasalle College of the Arts, Singapore. He is particularly interested in digital arts, photography based arts and installation art. He is interested in human behaviors and storytelling. Most of his visual art is translated from texts which he composes first. His inspiration comes from literature, movies and music.

Thee Oo, Bang On, 2021 (English), inkjet print on matte poster paper74 x 54 cm

Soe Yu Nwe is an artist from Myanmar working mainly in ceramics. Her experience of living cross-culturally has inspired her to reflect upon her own identity through making, conceiving it as a fluid, fragile and fragmented entity. Through transfiguration of her emotional landscape by poetically depicting nature and body in parts, she ponders the complexities of individual identity in this rapidly changing globalized society.

Kay Zin Su Wai (Ku Kue) is an illustrator, graphic designer and one of the few female graffiti artists in Yangon. She is passionate about utilising her talent as an artist to create inter-generational and community cohesion through education, especially with children and young people. She develops her own platforms and collaborates with peers to produce projects, merchandise and exhibitions.

Richie Htet is an illustrator, painter and creative consultant. His work often explores themes of female energy and empowerment, fashion and fabrics, as well as reinterpreting the historical gaze. His work predominantly focuses on themes of eroticism, sexual identity and his own racial background. He tells the stories of his ancestral home, while addressing contemporary themes, fashion and mythologies.

Ku Kue, You Messed With The Wrong Generation #3, 2021, inkjet print on matte poster paper, 46 x 46 cm

Baka is an illustrator. His family was forced to leave their hometown in Myanmar when he was around 14. Baka had a tough life struggling in the United States and never had any chance to share his artworks. In this series, Baka produced his works alongside the revolution. The power of the messages in the artworks are the real-time product of the Spring Revolution itself.

Exhibition Partners

Myanm/art, Yangon
Myanm/art is an art gallery, exhibition space and reading room featuring emerging contemporary artists from Myanmar. Our unique space, national and international following and calendar of events makes us one of the pioneer destinations promoting the creative community working in Yangon and other cities around the country. With regular exhibitions of talented artists, musical concerts, poetry readings, dance events, life drawing sessions, artist talks, lectures and tours, Myanm/art is expanding the growing interest in current Myanmar subcultures. Myanm/art serves artists and collectors to give a meaningful platform to the contemporary arts in Myanmar. By contemporary, we mean emerging artists creating work which pushes beyond the traditional styles of figurative, impressionist and abstraction. ‘Contemporary’ in Myanmar means a diverse group of female and male artists, conceptually strong and relevant to current sociopolitical circumstances in Myanmar today. We especially focus our efforts on artists under 40 years of age, those with a strong voice but without spaces to expose their work in Yangon. Read about Founder/Director of Myanm/art here.

Baka, Tahlay htel see, ta lee htel sote, 2021, inkjet print on matte poster paper, 46 x 46 cm

16albermarle Project Space, Sydney
16albermarle is a gallery and project space providing Australian audiences with the opportunity to see and learn about contemporary art from southeast Asia. It is directed by adviser, curator and collector John Cruthers. Based in Newtown in inner city Sydney, 16albermarle stages 6 exhibitions a year, including one exhibition annually of Australian art. In addition to exhibitions and public programs, 16albermarle will run tours to art events in the region. It is open by appointment.

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