Myint Myint Tin, Phyu Mon, Zoncy
Myint Myint Tin, Phyu Mon and Zoncy represent three generations of women artists devoted to making women’s voice heard in the artist community in Myanmar. Each of them has been influenced by the political context in which they have grown and developed as artists.
Myint Myint Tin was born in 1944 and grew up during the era of “Great Expectations” following Burma’s independence in 1948. She was part of the modernist movement and was among the first artists to introduce conceptual art to Myanmar. She is an artist, but also was a gallerist and patron of the arts from 1991 until the early 2000s. Two of the artworks showcased are by artists that Myint Myint Tin patronized as a gallerist.
Phyu Mon was born in 1960, two years before the Military Coup in 1962, which isolated the country from foreign influence and banned free expression for more than fifty years. Phyu Mon was the first woman artist to use photography and performance art, the latter being less subject to censorship due to its ephemeral nature. She plays a key role in supporting women artists in Myanmar.
Zoncy, the youngest of the three, was born in 1987. A year after her birth, the 1988 demonstrations led Aung San Suu Kyi to engage herself on the political scene, and forced the country to slowly open itself. Strongly influenced by the events that took place as she was growing up, she became an activist and got involved in peace building initiatives.
In Myanmar the majority of women artists typically represent flowers to celebrate beauty and femininity, but also to avoid controversial topics that could be censorsed. Myint Myint Tin new series Poppy Fields is her response to the cliched representation of flowers, and a criticism of the cultivation of poppies used to fund the military regime.
Phuy Mon’s series We are Here refers to the static nature of Myanmar’s society, despite the “changes” that took place over the last fifty years; in 1989, Burma was renamed Myanmar, in 2005 the capital city was relocated from Yangon to Naypyidaw, the constitution went through several changes, a new flag was adopted, yet the economy has not improved and society has not evolved. Since 2014, Phyu Mon has been playing with black and white and colour in her photographs. Beyond the aesthetic effect, the alternance of colour and black and white allows her to focus on mundane details and suggests that the present time is not brighter than the past. The beautiful image of the young nuns in their pink robes does not celebrate tradition but rather expresses regrets about women’s status, which is not evolving.
Gecko Stories by Zoncy is inspired by happy memories of her childhood in the Southeastern village where she grew up. The carefree images in Gecko Stories, inspired by Zoncy’s youth and the joyful games she played with her sisters and grandmother contrast with the Survival Game’s series, where she represents the daily challenges and adversity faced by families in Myanmar.
Zoncy demonstrates that regardless how small we are and despite the hardships we face, we have the power to stand-up and contribute to make our world a better place.