Artist pushes con­ven­tion out of her way

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse - LAE PHYU PYA MYO MYINT lae­phyupya@gmail.com

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.”

Pho­tos: Sup­plied

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.

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