Currently showing

MAKE THE TRUTHS VISIBLE, INJUSTICES ACCOUNTABLE

Purpose of this exhibition
Why an exhibition about holding hope?

The violation of human rights has been a prevailing issue in Myanmar for decades. Many regions, such as Kachin, Karen, and Rakhine States, have suffered armed conflicts and ongoing violence for generations. The Rohingya crisis, which peaked in 2017 and led to a million refugees, as well as the 2021 military coup further fueled the violence and human rights violations. This exhibition addresses accountability as a key element of the Myanmar human rights’ agenda. Although accountability is currently an aspiration, it is nevertheless grounded on the collective desire for the protection of human rights.

With these in mind, the artists that are part of this exhibition were given the task to imagine and explore the process of holding individual human rights violators responsible for their actions. The exhibition asks how do truths/facts manifest in a future Myanmar? What injustices would be addressed first? How would the future be different if both truths and accountability existed? By using the lenses of contemporary art, the artworks presented attempt to answer these important and difficult questions, encouraging people to see, think, and act in innovative ways to get to the goal of a future accountability

Currently showing

MAKE THE TRUTHS VISIBLE, INJUSTICES ACCOUNTABLE

Purpose of this exhibition
Why an exhibition about holding hope?

The violation of human rights has been a prevailing issue in Myanmar for decades. Many regions, such as Kachin, Karen, and Rakhine States, have suffered armed conflicts and ongoing violence for generations. The Rohingya crisis, which peaked in 2017 and led to a million refugees, as well as the 2021 military coup further fueled the violence and human rights violations. This exhibition addresses accountability as a key element of the Myanmar human rights’ agenda. Although accountability is currently an aspiration, it is nevertheless grounded on the collective desire for the protection of human rights.

With these in mind, the artists that are part of this exhibition were given the task to imagine and explore the process of holding individual human rights violators responsible for their actions. The exhibition asks how do truths/facts manifest in a future Myanmar? What injustices would be addressed first? How would the future be different if both truths and accountability existed? By using the lenses of contemporary art, the artworks presented attempt to answer these important and difficult questions, encouraging people to see, think, and act in innovative ways to get to the goal of a future accountability

ARTICLE 55

The underground artists of Myanmar 2021-2023

Artistic developments can be likened to wildflowers struggling to emerge from oppressive authoritarian regimes. Despite the challenges faced, Burmese art, encompassing literature, poetry, painting, music, and contemporary dance, has flourished in recent years. Amidst the haunting political events, we present the responses of Burmese artists who seize limited opportunities to express themselves. This exhibition showcases the beauty and courage of these "wildflowers." However, due to concerns for their safety and that of their families, the location and names of the artists remain undisclosed. The literature and visual arts on display reflect the lives people have endured during the past three years, marked by difficulties and dangerous atmospheres. Visitors to this exhibition will be able to explore the struggle against injustice from the unique perspective of art.

The Hidden Diaries Online Exhibition is a collaborative effort curated by Article X and Doh Hlay.

Never Surrender

A warrior who never gives up even in his death

WAke WAke

Alien

Shadow of Darkness

Although the time files

Resilience 1

Resilience 2

We will Rise Up

Like a Phoenix

Disobedient Padauk

Struggling for Freedom

Resilience

Burma Hsaing Waing

Why am I here?

Memorable moment

Till We Die

For a better future

Hope is a complex emotion: Hope allows us to overcome the obstacles by helping us to cope with the realities of a frustrating present. Hope leads to imaginations, expectations, and utopian fantasies that can make the present being felt “as a heavy weight”. Hope also has an element of optimism, no matter what kind of repression people are subjected to, they believe they will survive. Hope is what allows people to operate despite repressive times.

In the photo series “Immortal Dreams”, an artist’s collective share their private hopes in  private places, backs turned in an act of vulnerability, inviting the viewer to share in their innermost thoughts and maybe even to “make them a reality.
Karenni state has been devastated by conflict. After 2021, the political crisis reached a new level of violence. This made young people lose hope for the future, as their chances for a better life, enjoyment of human rights and possibilities for education vanished. This music video, developed by a Karenni youth group, showcases their dreams, and hopes. It is also a poem, inspiring others to think of a better future where independently of ethnicity or religious affiliation, people will be able to walk side by side.
The photo series contains 9 photographs and accompanying poem showcasing the dilemmas faced by revolutionary youth living in Yangon. This beautiful photo series is based around youth reflective qualities: Self-awareness, self-confidence, interpersonal efficacy, skills, and motivations. The piece is entitled “Dilemma” indicating a collective feeling of insecurity shared among young Myanmar people that had to leave the country because of their activities supporting a democratic regime. The piece also illuminates the important role that the Myanmar diaspora plays in Myanmar politics.
"Inequity Documentary" presents a compelling narrative of youth resilience and resistance in the Shan State of Myanmar. This documentary, produced by Ta’ang Student and Youth Union (TSYU), Shwe Phee Myay News Agency and Hum Ta’ang, amplifies the voices of a youth group. The aim is for the international audience to appreciate the importance of an inclusive education system that accommodates for all ethnic and religious nationalities.
Everyone says that “time heals everything” alluring to the fact that painful memories are lessened by time. This is a popular acknowledgement that people's memories are constantly changing. Scientists agree with this fact. Memories do not last forever, but rather change and transform, moving away from truths and facts. John Locke, a British philosopher, said that “a person’s identity only reaches as far as their memory extends into the past”. This means that memory plays an important role in shaping our collective and personal identities. The changing nature of collective memories, therefore, includes lies that do not reflect the truths of the past. Shapeshifting memories can influence society and obscure real events, even if we are not aware that we are doing it. Foucault proposes a counter-memory approach, where individuals relentlessly question the veracity of "history” as an act of resistance.
In Myanmar folklore, a widely spoken phrase found inscribed on rural households reads: "The flesh of children is bitter, the flesh of a dog is sweet." The artworks become a memorial that commemorates those children killed by the Myanmar army. As an installation, these artworks include sculptures, videos, and paintings that portray child innocence and the atrocities lived by those victims. The installation sheds light on the violence inflicted upon children and provide a space for remembrance and mourning.
Dictators play with the prices of goods to make the people's livelihood difficult. Economic instability creates so much anxiety that people are unable to think about anything else. Dictators ban and reduce employment rights. Dictators stop people from speaking the truth. We wear masks to hide our true self and move forward. The police and soldiers break laws left and right, so there is nowhere to turn to when faced with injustice. Dictators rule by imposing fear. When there is an emergency in the middle of the night, the curfew makes us helpless without knowing what to do. Justice is trampled under the boots of the army. We are left with anger, indomitable desire for more, and despair.
“I left my home on a day of February. My friends left their homes at various times since then. Since the coup, nothing is the same. The daily life struggle of living amidst chaos, unpredictable risks and unbearable atrocities and human right violations is undeniable and unavoidable for people inside Myanmar. We have left our houses and migrated to another country with the purposes of from seeking a safe shelter and building a better life. I imagine a tomorrow when all of us can go back to our homes and reunite with our loved ones.”
Violence, repression, and discrimination are commonplace in many places right now. Every day, rights and equality are in peril. Social media and societal misinformation are current and future treats. Truth is essential to human existence as it allows for those repressed and discriminated against to express themselves. After 2021, a new generation of young Myanmar people is eager to make their voices heard and bring about change.
I was born and raised in the country Myanmar, where oppression has occurred repeatedly throughout many generations and throughout many dictatorship periods. In this context, there is no one who is always right, or who is always wrong. Anyone that looks at history of our country, can understand that there is black and white. Rather, history and people fall in the grey areas, where good and bad are related. It is difficult to accept, but this is the reality in our country.
14 young refugees involved in the human rights and media workshop took portraits of each other and shared their personal feelings.
Two autobiographical and personal stories were recorded. Each video reflects the views of two young refugees on education, self-esteem, and dreams.
The inherent right to freedom of expression belongs to every individual from the moment of their birth, and even the most formidable constraints cannot prevent an artist from conveying his creativity through charcoal sketches, under the watchful eyes of prison wardens. Following the resurgence of the Burmese junta's control in 2021, an artist found himself incarcerated in a severe penitentiary located north of Yangon. Despite this, he clandestinely captured his fellow inmates in sketches, vividly depicting the daily struggles of political prisoners, and then unveiled these depictions to the world!
This film portrays  women who are protesters and activists who lost their souls & lives that are shaped by the Myanmar Spring Revolution, getting stuck in a hide with an uncertain future, and the healing and journey that help them to look up for a better tomorrow.
“Multiman” portrays the images of Kachin youth who participated in the creation of the multimedia video performance.
Hope as an alternate reality.
The photograph series entitled “if you were me” depicts young people living in Kachin conflict areas. How can they keep their hopes alive in the midst of so much trauma?
The video performance is entitled “A dreamy society”. It recreates six decades of armed conflict and civilian resistance. It portrays how Kachin society has been marked by the pain inflicted by the war, and their resolve to not give up.
These artworks celebrate the bravery of Kachin people against decades of inhumanity.
A walk down memory lane. Sometimes I reminisce about the good old days. Back when the nights were free and as deep as the conversations. Back when we could stop and smell the flowers. Back when we could call the future ours.
Hope as an alternate reality.
A diary is just like a memory. It records and stores information. Now all those memories inside the diary are being hurled into artworks that will tell the stories of the artist's life.
Memories become nightmares. When will this end?As we walk through these nightmares, we cannot make and keep new memories unless we wake up from this cycle.But these nightmares we're in are the reality of our lives for now.
Hope as an alternate reality.
The things we learned when we were young, were they wrong or right? Were we brought up with deceiving schemes or were we brought up with the truth? Ask yourself what memory you have to examine.
Being in the dark doesn't mean we cannot move forward. We may feel we are stumbling around in. the dark, losing direction, but when we bump into another person in the dark, the light works its way through the dark.

Short Stories

A Sun's Journey

Thurein participated in month-long, peaceful protests against the latest military coup in Myanmar. Fleeing the junta’s extremely violent crackdown, he found himself hiding in a military-owned mill, where he met a mysterious old man who fed him, protected him, and shared his feelings. Thurein later discovered the destinies of both that man and himself.

Train

After joining the Civil Disobedience Movement, U Set Gaung leaves his train at Mandalay Station and moves in with his daughter. By day he sells noodles. At night, he dreams of a future when he is back on his train, with his grandson by his side. But in the end, learns that sometimes, dreams never end.

Hope as temporal.
Hope is expressed as something beyond the limits of the present. It is articulated as imagined futures, and to look to the future.

Art, through the production of images and texts, reflects the view of hope as “the wish for something to become true”. This makes hope something very concrete, even what the artist wish will become true may lie in the realm of the uncertain.This animated poem reading explores the nature of hope (and hopelessness) and the human condition in Buddhist reincarnation philosophy. What can we do when hope, like our lives, is temporal but circular like a city’s circuit train?
Hope is a complex emotion:
The artwork, originally produced in 2016, was an exploration of the State’s use of symbols to continue oppression. The cosmetic adoption of a new flag with the false narrative of “new beginnings” is used as a suffocating garment in this art piece; the tokenism of a “new Myanmar” as a symbol of democracy, religion, or freedom was, and is, a lie — the recent escalation of violent crackdowns in the country is just more evidence of this. The artist wishes this piece serves as a reminder that the way forward lies in everyone grappling with fundamental questions about the country, and to be wary of cosmetic “solutions” to its current problems.
Purple ribbon
Hope as temporal.
This song takes inspiration from the artist’s conviction that the very act of prayer works as a weapon against all forms of injustice, hate, and violence; that the path forward is only achieved through a better understanding of each other, a message that uplifts and guides all the peoples in Myanmar to a collective consciousness for good. And with the act of this prayer, through song, the artist hopes that she touches and moves our human spirit.
Hope is a complex emotion:
In this mixed media project, the artist spent time in 2012 documenting the lives of the semi-permanent residents of an IDP camp, capturing with his camera intimate moments of daily life in a camp such as this. Ten years later, in 2022, the camp is still there, and the photographer returns. This time, he projects photographs of their lives ten years ago onto the “temporary” houses of people still in the camp and the photographer shares back some of their hopes, captured in a still image of themselves so many years ago — their smiles, their lives, and other small moments. It is a powerful call to compare and bring to light the continued hope from displaced peoples, contrasted with the tragic, enduring nature of their camps.
Black ribbon
Hope as temporal.
At first glance, this animation is a simple story about a post-apocalyptic Earth, after an apparent nuclear war. We follow our protagonist traveling through a Myanmar wasteland, and see glimpses of what might have caused all the destruction — an arms race and holding on to old army ideologies. The protagonists mission looks clear cut; they are there to take a painting, as a preservation of art and culture, maybe for the protagonist’s home world, and during the extraction they encounter a monster. But all isn’t what it seems… The animation questions our own decisions in the threat of escalating violence, as the “monster” holds up a mirror for self-reflection, and we must grapple with what is at stake in our current struggle.
Green Ribbon
Hope is a complex emotion:
In this photography series, the artist-activist juxtaposes a series of photographs opposite each other: on the one side, the audience is invited to witness the activist’s time spent armed-training in the liberated areas — a response to the violent crackdown and lethal oppression during the country’s initial peaceful protests (many young people would go on and do the same); on the other, their identity hidden still by a full-body suit with the tri-colour of Myanmar’s latest flag, the artist confronts the camera holding various objects (and in various locations), expressing through them symbolisms of hope, federalism and the struggle for true freedom and justice in the country.
Hope as an alternate reality.
Hope as an alternate reality. When artists depict their wish for something to be true, they are expressing something concrete and precise, even when their wishes lie in the realms of uncertainty.

In this multimedia performance, the artist documents their feelings of uncertainty over the past year in a painting, literally putting hope and hopelessness in opposition to each other, flipped on canvas. The resolution — both a release and a metaphor to symoblise a “new beginning” — comes as they burn their art on camera.
Hope as solidarity.
Hope as solidarity. Rejecting the current oppressive climate, youth, activists, and artists are refusing to leave the public space. Their resilience becomes a public declaration of hope for Myanmar’s future, and a wellspring for those who want to express solidarity and alliances.

In this piece the artist reminds the viewers of the heavy prices being paid in the ongoing struggle, and the clash between the thin veneer of people’s daily lives as they continue living and the undercurrent of the fight, bubbling underneath in unspoken words between friends.

Inspired by the complex emotions experienced in their escape from Yangon across the Thai border with the help of human traffickers, this live performance explores the tension between the two forces influencing the artist’s journey — Dhamma, cosmic law and order, and Adhamma, cosmic injustice and disorder.

As our conclusive piece, we invite the viewer to take a few moments to participate in this piece: to listen, to meditate and to ponder.