Myanmar’s rural museums – Tun Win Aung and Wah Nu Guggenheim video interview

In a country with few gallery spaces, two Burmese artists are proving that disused barns can make surprisingly good exhibition venues.

In a two-minute video interview, husband-and-wife artist duo Tun Win Aung and Wah Nu discuss their art practice and Museum Project, an ongoing initiative that aims to bring contemporary art to provincial areas. Produced in May 2013, the video is part of a series of artist interviews documenting the Guggenheim Museum’s UBS MAP Global Art Initiative.

The artist duo met in 1994 at university and were married in 2002. As the interview begins, they describe the close collaboration between the members of their small family. “We need each other,” says Tun Win Aung. In the past, they have included their daughter’s painting in their artworks “because sometimes her painting is so cute,” Wah Nu says in the interview. “And also sometimes she gives [us] ideas,” Tun Win Aung continues.

In addition to collaborative practice, public accessibility to the art world is a driving force behind the artist duo’s practice. As they mention in the interview, in 2010 they initiated Museum Project to “introduce what is a museum, what are our works, what is artwork [and] what is [an] exhibition” to people living in rural areas in Myanmar. Most of the “museums and galleries [are] only in Yangon and Mandalay, so the common people who live in the countryside or villages, they don’t know about museums,” says Tun Win Aung.

Exhibition view of Museum Project #4. Photo credit: nnncl workshop.

Exhibition view of Museum Project #4. Photo credit: nnncl workshop.

More on Wah Nu and Tun Win Aung

Wah Nu and Tun Win Aung, born in 1977 in Yangon and 1975 in Ywalut respectively, live and work in Yangon, Myanmar. Both artists graduated from the University of Culture, Yangon, in 1998.

The artist duo’s collaborations have been exhibited in “Meta-question: Back to the Museum Per Se”, the 4th Guangzhou Triennial in China (2011); “Videozone V” at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Israel (2010); the 6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art at the Queensland Art Gallery in Australia (2009-2010); the 11th Asian Art Biennale in Bangladesh (2004); and the 2nd and 3rd Fukuoka Asian Art Triennales in Japan (2002 and 2005).

Wah Nu and Tun Win Aung collaboration with May Phue Thet (b.1992), Min Thein Sung (b.1978); Museum Project #5: Mingon Museum of Contemporary Art 2012-2013', Marlar Art Center / Phyoe Kyi Art Workshop, Mingun, Sagaing, Myanmar. Artworks by May Phue Thet: (left) 'Be happy be happy #01', (center) 'Be happy be happy #02', 2012, digital print, 66.5 x 100 cm each, (right) 'Dress (Deep Blue)', 2012, embroidered cloth, hanger, 46 x 22 cm. Photo credit: nnncl workshop.

Wah Nu and Tun Win Aung collaboration with May Phue Thet (b.1992), Min Thein Sung (b.1978); Museum Project #5: Mingon Museum of Contemporary Art 2012-2013, Marlar Art Center / Phyoe Kyi Art Workshop, Mingun, Sagaing, Myanmar. Artworks by May Phue Thet: (left) ‘Be happy be happy #01’, (center) ‘Be happy be happy #02’, 2012, digital print, 66.5 x 100 cm each, (right) ‘Dress (Deep Blue)’, 2012, embroidered cloth, hanger, 46 x 22 cm. Photo credit: nnncl workshop.

They have also participated in group shows including “plAy: Art from Myanmar Today” at Osage Gallery in Singapore (2010) and “Inner Voices” at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Japan (2011).

This article was written by a participant in our art writing diploma programme. Do you want to write for Art Radar, too? Click here to find out more about our Diploma in Art Journalism & Writing.

Jessin Wong Ker Sin

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Related Topics: artists from Myanmar, public artart and the community

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