Artist pushes convention out of her way
PIONEERING digital artist Phyu Mon made her big-screen debut at Yangon’s Wathann Film Festival last weekend, with her Blooming Sound installation exploring the relationship between image and sound.
The 7-minute film was a meditative piece, contrasting the sight of a body of water with the sound of a moving train-, and later with silence.
“Every sound has a meaning, and silence is also a sound … Myanmar was silent after 1962,” Phyu Mon said, in reference to the decades of military junta rule that devastated the national economy. “I wanted to show this through the symbol of the fishes underwater.”
Blooming Sound featured in the non-competition film category at this year’s festival. This year was the first to allow the inclusion of video art, as well as short films from international artists.
Her body of work has been met with acclaim, both here and abroad.
“Phyu Mon, who creates all her artworks with decorous, aesthetic and deep presentations, is an international artist,” said artist and writer Daw Khin Than Phyu.
Born in Mandalay in 1960, Phyu Mon is regarded as one of Myanmar’s more prolific conceptual artists. Upon graduating from Mandalay University with a BA in Literature, she undertook a year’s tutelage under renowned painter U Ba Thaw.
As a female working in the digital medium, her photography and aesthetic influence sets her apart in Myanmar’s maledominated art scene.
Phyu Mon has exhibited her highly symbolic paintings in group exhibitions since 1985, and since become a renowned poet and writer.
She attributes her interest in conceptual art as having come from her husband, artist Chan Aye. He encouraged her to pursue contemporary art.
In 1997, Phyo Mon performed a one-woman piece called Human Being Object. It was perhaps the first performance art exhibition by a woman in Myanmar. This was to be followed by a number of shows both in Myanmar and abroad.
Phyu Mon’s work has been exhibited in Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Denmark, Spain, the USA, the UK, Italy and France.
Her work is often described as contemporary commentary, and she is preoccupied with the intersection of key themes related to women’s lived experience in Myanmar. She explores prejudice, cultural and traditional norms, the expectation of women’s subservience, and domestic and economic realities.
Phyu Mon is something of a chameleon, regularly switching between mediums. She has produced video art, photo art, digital art, installation art and performance art – as well as presenting her ideas through poetry and prose.
“Each [medium] has its own strength,” she said.
“I think, I’ll never stop learning new mediums, because I have so many kinds left to study. I will create art by studying new methods and sharing with others.”
One of Phyu Mon’s installations featured hundreds of empty bottles laid out around black and white television screens at the French Institute.
The artist delivers a performance art piece, a medium she pioneered in Myanmar in 1997.
Phyu Mon, well known for her art installations, recently featured at the Wathann Film Festival.