Nearly a decade into Myanmar’s transition out of military rule, artists still struggle to find their voice. As the trajectory towards a democratic political system proves to be slow, volatile, and discontinuous, how does the artistic community negotiates its position against the backdrop of the seismic shifts that are currently taking place throughout the country? Faced with a new set of challenges, what kind of strategies do artists employ to carve out and maintain a critical stance? In this talk, Nathalie Johnston will reflect upon these issues by mapping out some radical artistic practices and patterns of resistance within Myanmar’s contemporary art ecosystem.
Active in Myanmar since 2009, Nathalie Johnston (United States/Myanmar) is a curator and researcher currently living in Yangon where she has been involved in numerous independent projects and initiatives. In 2016, she founded Myanm/art, an exhibition space, gallery, and reading room dedicated to promoting contemporary art in Myanmar by developing collaborations and showcasing artists’ works to local and international audiences. In 2013, she co-founded Myanmar Art Resource Center and Archive (MARCA), an archive and resource centre that aims to become the largest bilingual digital resource on the history and current state of the arts in Myanmar. Johnston is also the director of the art initiative TS1 Yangon and co-founder of Pyinsa Rasa art collective.
Image caption: 3AM performance art group. Courtesy Zayar Min.