General / Tiger / Gun

Rebel Art Space -

Ended 15 June 2014
Rebel Art Space

Rebel Art Space presents 'General / Tiger / Gun' a group exhibition by Myanmar Artists
1. San Min (Painting)
2. Myat Kyawt (Installation)
3. Wai Mar Nyunt (Video)
4. Maung Day (Drawing)
5. Thoe Htein (Spray on canvas)
6. Than Htay Maung (Installation)
7. Thu Rein (Mix-Medium Painting)
8. Moe Satt (Installation)

As recent as 10 years ago, contemporary artists in Myanmar was few and far between, and only a handful of artists can get a chance to exhibit their work abroad. This means that the art scene outside of Myanmar has only seen a handful of Myanmar artists. What about for the rest? I disagree that those few artists were automatically better than the rest because of their international exposure. Myanmar artists have received little attention & recognition from international art community. Previously, whenever institutions in the region organized “Southeast Asia Contemporary Art event”, We Myanmar artists didn't receive invitation to take part. It means that Myanmar is marginalized in the region or they simply are unaware of the existence of contemporary artists in Myanmar. Do regional institutions think Myanmar art is limited to just the traditional form? We want to build a bridge between the international and Myanmar art scene.

“General/Tiger/Gun ” is a game like “Paper/Scissors/Stone”. This game gives out a message: nobody can win forever and nobody can lose forever. Win sometimes, lose sometimes. Upon close investigation, you will find these three things in our society, so powerful and omnipresent. As we had lived under the sickening military rule for a long period of time, the images of military generals and guns are what remain firmly in people's memory as symbols of the junta—both serving as killing machines. So it's fair to say we had also lived with so much fear. In Myanmar language, “Tiger” has two meanings. One is the beast and the second is male. So, you can see through this and understand that our society is still a male-dominated society.

This event showcases and reflects the aforementioned power components of our society. San Min's work deals with the gun. He creates a visceral montages by combining a gun and a pen, a gun and video etc., You may well know that the junta put strict censorship on arts. They were afraid and hated the writer's pen. We have a saying in the world of journalism that goes “ the pen is sharper than a knife". Under the junta we didn't have the freedom of speech, the freedom to write and the freedom of thought. We were warned against criticizing the government and talking politics.

The massive amount of political and social pressures maimed the country and disfigured the society which has an everlasting effect until now. This is my deduction for Than Htay Maung’s irregular-shaped bottles that he lifted from the glass factory wastes. Now the country is in its reform process, but it is not a pleasant walk in a beautiful garden. Since the beginning of political changes, civil wars have been coming thick, fundamentalist Buddhists have risen and sectarian violence has surged. We all know that this is a game the government and elitists are playing. Do we need to be involved in that game or should we ignore it? Fundamentalist monks have called for a new “marriage law”. They propose Buddhist women cannot marry Muslim males. If a Muslim man wants to marry a Buddhist woman, he has to convert to Buddhism. So what role do Buddhist monks play in our society? Are they entitled to make a new law? Many of us are not sure if they should be involved in political sphere this much. Myat Kyawt's works raises these questions to the society.

Thoe Htein explains about his work called “A solider with a gun and flower bullet in my mind”: the solider having stamp with a gun in their arms were plentiful in the years of 1988 when I was 9. What might they be thinking? What should I do? With such thoughts and feelings in their minds, this generation had experienced the same experience throughout their lives. As I grew up, I wish them to those smiles and to keep those spirits with us whatever they had experienced in their life.I thought and feel inside their mind. That's all. We all knew the story, isn't it?

Maung Day noted about his work, “In the process of creating this artwork, I found myself thinking about ongoing racial/ethnic conflicts in my country as well as in many countries all over the world. I feel gutted. And I also feel more than disgusted by how everyone may be perpetuating such conflicts without knowing it. I think that while we may be politicized, this is not the same as having a conscience. My artwork here can also be considered personal as I try to explore my own role in these scenarios.”
The work of the show’s one female participant converged in a common theme of loss and irretrievable memory. Wair Mar Nyunt's 9-minute short film Happy Soul, created in Prague in 2010, recalled the director’s childhood of joining her beloved family in making hanging birds with wool. Eight colorful birds represented these family members in the film’s narrative, also hanging within the installation in which the film was projected. The work’s colorful imagery recalled the harmony of early life among family members, accompanied by a similarly nostalgic radio soundtrack.

The childhood in Myanmar is full of folk tales and stories that can be found in the school text books, children's literature and at bedtime. These stories entertain the children while at the same time, they--interwoven with Buddhist moral lessons, violence, mystery and nationalism--scare the children, force them to act in a certain way, and force them to develop a lopsided unhealthy love for their country. These stories are largely "Myanmar" and even those ones originated in ethnic minorities' traditions have been robbed off and put in school text books as "Myanmar tales". So no wonder there is ongoing sectarian violence against ethnic minorities in Myanmar. Those bedtime stories shape children's minds and worldviews. This is part of the whole process of brainwashing and manipulation, and it needs to be changed.
Finally, I like to quote Nyein Wei, a Myanmar poet and artist, who once said in one of his articles, "Contemporary art can liberate you.Take note of this"

Curator note : Moe Satt

This exhibition curated by Moe Satt a talented young contemporary artist in Myanmar, who has been invited to participate the art festival around the world including Asiatopia Performance art festival in Bkk and Co-Curator : Jiratti Kuttanam the Rebel Art Space manager/curator.

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Ends 15 June 2014

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Rebel Art Space

10/5 Sukhumvit 67 Phra Khanong Bangkok Thailand

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Rebel Art Space
Rebel Art Space

10/5 Sukhumvit 67 Phra Khanong Bangkok Thailand

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