Myanmar artistic duo Tun Win Aung and Wah Nu put on their first solo exhibition with Chan Hampe Galleries since 2013.
Art Radar takes a look at some of the themes throughout their work.
As part of the 2016 Singapore Biennale, an exhibition at Chan Hampe Galleries presents Myanmar artists Tun Win Aung and Wah Nu from 17 November to 4 December. “Blurring the Boundaries (2007-2012)” is an updated edition of a photographic suite first present at the 6th Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in Queensland, Australia from 2009 to 2010.
A husband and wife team, both Wah Nu and Tun Win Aung were born in Myanmar in the 1970s. Wah Nu studied music at the University of Culture in Yangon while Tun Win Aung studied sculpture. From early on they both showed an interest in developing their practice through multiple art forms.
Wah Nu explored painting and video soon after graduating and Tun Win Aung extended his practice to performance, multimedia work and painting. Tun Win Aung has created several site-specific outdoor installations, often involving Myanmar’s landscape. In 2007 Wah Nu and Tun Win Aung moved from a practice based around formal approaches of painting and drawing to a more photographic practice, which can be seen in the current exhibition.
Although they have individual artistic practices, the couple also collaborates on various projects, investigating elements of historical and contemporary culture, as well as developing an innovative practice. Their collaborative work was featured in exhibitions such as the Singapore Biennale (2016), the Guggenheim Museum (2013), 4th Guangzhou Triennial (2011), the Centre for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv (2010), the 6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (2009), the 2nd and 3rd Fukuoka Asian Art Triennales (2002/2005), and the 11th Asian Art Biennale in Dhaka (2004).
“Blurring the Boundaries (2007-2012)” is a series of ten large colour photographs that portray models of proposed exhibitions. The miniature exhibitions are built in the artists’ studio using props, maquettes and miniature artworks. These maquettes are then photographed, digitally filed and are only printed when an exhibition opportunity arises.
The works manipulate the perception of what is real and what is not. By confusing original and copy, reality and fiction, event and documentation, the prints are a response to local scarcity of resources and popular suspicion of contemporary art.
Working as an artist in Myanmar can be challenging, involving a difficult economic and political environment where artists often work under scrutiny of state authorities. Developing vibrant networks and having access to exhibition spaces and opportunities can be problematic. As Wah Nu and Tun Win Aung comment,
[A]ll these sketches and models reflect the contemporary of our own. Exhibitions of our models had no visitors and were always deserted. This solitary is our isolation and this silence is our dumbness, in half a century. These photos are the self-portraits of an artist as a motherland.
Wah Nu and Tun Win Aung examine the everyday through a mixing of the personal anecdote and pop cultural references, as well as incorporating aspects of their private lives. They have occasionally included creative work from their friends and family, for example. Their work ranges from political observation to whimsical and intimate pieces, combining their personal histories with that of a wider community context.
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- Burma’s Flying Circus: Tun Win Aung and Wah Nu – interview – October 2013 – taking it to the streets: interview with Burma’s Flying Circus artist couple
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