Let’s dream together
AS dragonflies and songs of reggae singer Saw Phoe Kwar billowed in the breeze on October 16, Mahabandoola Park filled with multimedia artists and art lovers for Collective Dream, an artistic showcase put on in collaboration with PEN Myanmar, Myanmar Story Teller and the Myanmar Art Social Project.
The purpose of the show, said writer Daw Than Myint Aung, was to look past patriotism and nationalism, with the end goal of creating sustainable peace for people around the world.
Collective Dream, sharing the same name as a poem by famed writer Ma Thida (Sanchaung) which she wrote for the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, featured works by performance artists, musicians, poets and graffiti artists.
“I first used the words ‘Collective Dream’ at a Burma Studies Conference held in Singapore,” said the show’s main speaker, Ma Thida. “Everybody focuses on their own identity and become weak at finding a collective identity. I felt that our collective dream – to create a peaceful human society in the future – has been lost.”
Ma Thida’s “collective dream” idea is not a new one. She has been thinking and writing about this topic since the 70th anniversary last year, though she notes that most people haven’t read her articles.
To reach a wider audience, Ma Thida had the idea to write a poem, “to let the public become friendly with that phrase”. Over the course of three or four months, she started getting in touch with artists from a variety of backgrounds, and began planning the Collective Dream event.
One of the artists Ma Thida contacted was Sang Zaw Htway who uses recycled materials in his work to comment on the relationship between art, politics and environmentalism.
Sang Zaw Htway had five works on display at Collective Dream – including repurposed recycled objects, handprint paintings, and a full-length mirror installation in which visitors would see themselves and the Independence Monument in the reflection.
“I did the mirror installation so that people feel the Independence Monument standing with us. We don’t need to look up,” said the ex-political prisoner.
As nightfall came, Collective Dream inspired many with a reading of Ma Thida’s poem from artists and ordinary folks.
The poem’s opening lines are a call to the people. “Oh citizens, let’s dream together,” Ma Thida writes, urging throughout her verses people to shift their thinking from individual to collective, the only way to move in the direction of peace.
“To be honest, I’m not yet satisfied,” said Ma Thida. “I want the poem to be distributed across the country and in various languages. I want to campaign as much as possible until the idea of dreaming together is instilled in the heart of the public.”
Visitors check out an art installation by Sang Zaw Htway.
A dramatic backdrop provided unique photo options.
Performance art featured at the event.
A young girl explores her creative side.
Ma Thida recites a poem.