Abstraction of Breathing

Exploring Contemporary Media and Multidisciplinary Art in Myanmar


SoCA( School of Contemporary Art )/ Aura Contemporary Art Foundation

The Documentation Project of Contemporary Art 2020 Vol.3 / Abstraction of Breathing

Purpose of the Project:

The purpose of this project is to respond to the current crisis of ecosystem and political changes through a pandemic crisis by comparison of each artists’ expressions and interpretations as well as to document of local art reflections.

Concept description:

Breathing is the concept of deconstruction and reconstruction inside our body- symbolic representation, revolving around the concept of death and resurrection called “Phyit chin & Pyiat chin”[1] in Burmese philosophy Breathing is a fundamental phenomenon of human existence, which is carefully examined in the study of Buddhist philosophy. Inhaling and exhaling can change the shape of the body physically and mentally through balancing of our metaphorical desires.

[1] In here I mean the believing and realities of our society. As explained here, “The Four Noble Truths comprise the essence of Buddha's teachings, though they leave much unexplained. They are the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering.”

Gilles Deleuze’s, Explaining Spinoza in his practical Philosophy, guided us to know relation of body and mind, his use of the body as a model for philosophers, Deleuze writes that,
"When a body 'encounters' another body, or an idea another idea, it happens that the two relations sometimes combine to form a more powerful whole, and sometimes one decomposes the other, destroying the cohesion of its parts. We experience joy when a body encounters ours and enters into composition with it, and sadness when, on the contrary, a body or an idea threatens our own coherence”.

In this way, our body is similar to the processes of earth's ever changing ecosystem. Changes of global environment deteriorate lands mapping surfaces, due to human flows of migration, discrimination and racism. At that time our struggle, desires and survival instincts bring to light many questions, such as how these chaotic processes should be understood[1].

This project “Abstraction of Breathing” is based on this phenomena and recognition that the human mind, run parallels between these functions. Intentionally, there is the meaning of Abstraction, based on the Latin original “to drag away”. This is exactly why we aim to position ourselves in this geo-political mapping. These forms of meaning and thought bind into  forms of visual interpretations by the artists. Specifically, this is also the witnessing of artists’ responses to the new normal life.

[1] In here “At that time our struggle, desire and survives stressfully arises many questions as how to understand these CHAOS processes” Mean we face to uncertain situations by the many CHAOS on the political or social conflicts.
Aung Myat Htay  and Yuto Yubumoto
Edited by Nathalie Johnston,
And Special Thanks for the discussion;
Ko San Lin Tun, Ko Ke’ Su Thar and Diana Htwe

Short teaser video of "ABSTRACTION OF BREATHING"

Abstraction of Breathing: Exploring Multidisciplinary Art in Myanmar Vol:3 Facebook

Bio of Curators:

This project is curated by Aung Myat Haty, Founder of SOCA(School of contemporary art project), and co-curated and supported by Mr. Yuto Yabumoto, Director of Aura Contemporary Art Foundation (AURA).

Artist, Independent Curator 

Aung Myat Htay was born in Mandalay, Myanmar, currently based in Yangon. Practices in bronze sculpture assisted his father since he was young. He started in art education at the state- run Fine Art school of Mandalay in 1991. He graduated BFA at the University of Art and culture of Yangon in 1998, where he worked as a lecturer/tutor till 2002. He explores the potential in freedom of expression found in contemporary art. He expresses social messages with work that combines a contemporary sense with traditional forms and visual works. He is also known as a writer/curator in Myanmar’s art community since 2005 in addition to his involvement within Myanmar. He has presented work in several regions of Asia including Thailand, India, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. In 2010 he exhibited in Fukuoka Asian Art Museum’s residency program. In 2011 participates the Live Art 2011 in Bangalore, India. In 2012 involved artist residency of Koganecho Bazaar International art festival in Yokohama, Japan. In 2012, he won a selected Southeast Asia Finalist of Sovereign Asian Art Prize. In 2014, he got a six-month grant from ACC (Asian Cultural Council) for New York Residency program to research and meet the curators and create new work in the US. He was a curator of the public art section of the "2017 My Yangon My Home” Art and Heritage Festival. In 2017, he participated in the curator workshop organized by the Japan Foundation Asia Center Art Studies Project. In 2019, he participated in the "Serendipity Arts Festival" in Goa, India. Recently, he published the DVD Magazine Vol:2 “Silence is Golden” a research-based presentation on Contemporary Myanmar Art.

Bio of Writers:

Phoo Myat Thwe (Curator/Art Writer)

Phoo Myat Thwe currently works as Gallery Manager at Myanmar Deitta Photo Gallery in Yangon, an organization supporting contemporary photography in Myanmar and as project assistant at Myanmar Photo Archive, an archive of over 20,000 images of Myanmar, dating back to late 1890s. She participated in first ever Asian Arts Media Roundtable by ArtsEquator in 2019 and was a participant of Young Curators Academy program by Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin in the same year. She has also written for The Japan Foundation Yangon’s program, Creative Platform Series. In 2020, she curated an online exhibition called, Art-Spaces-Us, with the support of Myanm/art Gallery, which was featured on Art and Market website as a winning entry article by Susan Htoo, as a part of their inaugural ‘Fresh Take’ writing contest.

Diana Htwe (Curator/Art critic): 

Diana Nway Htwe (Thet Thet Nway Htwe) studied Art History, Theory and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (USA) with a focus in Burmese Art History. She believes art can be used as a medium to expand upon the socio-political dynamics of a given time period. With museum and curatorial experiences in both Burmese and Western institutions, she aspires to promote Burmese art in Myanmar, Southeast Asia and beyond. 

Artist/Art Collective Bio:

Bay Bay (Photography/Collage)

Bay Bay has been producing photographic works,  developing her own photographic projects and  experimenting with various styles of visual production, from reflective black and white meditations on a swiftly developing Yangon to surrealist photo collages making use of found imagery. She now works as a freelance photographer and has been exhibited numerous times, including a first solo show in Yangon in 2017. She has also participated in Yangon Photo Festival, Myanmar’s largest photographic event.

Lwin Oo Maung  (Performance Artist)

As a former enlisted solider in the armed forces (Tatmadaw), Lwin Oo Maung accepts this part of his life as an aspect of change, one that no longer defines him but helped him to determine his future as an artist. After 10 Years is an exploration of an artist’s interests. His own body and identification as an artist; the spirits and historical figures worshipped by his countrymen; and a fun and energetic vision of what it means to reimagine yourself, your future, and the spirits.

Brang Li (Installation Artist) 

Brang Li was born in Myitkyina, Kachin State in 1981. He studied for a Bachelor degree in Painting in Yangon, graduating in 2004. He has participated in many group shows in Yangon, and had a solo show at Pansodan Gallery in 2011. He explored the new mediums for his current canvas works about the civil conflict and people from IDP camps portrayed background of smoke effect. In this program feature of installation work, “Kachin boate” which is like a float in the air.

  • No more life, 2016
    Soot and acrylic on canvas, 48″ x 60″

  • Martyrs’ Mausoleum, 2015
    Acrylic on canvas 36″ x 60″

Ito & Moe Myat (MATTER audiovisual lab)

MATTER is an artist-run experimental collectiveand innovative research lab for makers and thinkers run by
Moe Myat (Artist/Filmmaker). Through workshops, paneldiscussions, projects, events and screenings, we aim to provide a hub where ideas grow together to create things that MATTER, Collective. CGAUSS a.k.a Itö (Win Htut Thawdar) is an experimental musician and a member of Matter collective. He also works as a vocalist, double-bass/electric bass/guitarist, music producer, music & film composer and sound designer. In pursuit of the second eye, he loves photography and the science behind it. He’d take a loop of videos where he’d capture the reality of the textures and use these images to animate his visual work behind the audio work.

Mayco Naing (Theatre/Photography)

Mayco Naing is a photography artist known as her portrait series, entitled Identity of Fear, captures the Zeitgeist of the Burmese generation born around the time of the 1988 revolution, raised with little education, conservative values, and coming of age under a repressive military regime. Drawing on her newly-found freedom of expression and the desire to share her experience, Mayco hopes to be able to train as many citizen artists and photojournalists as possible, especially in regions where ethnic minorities are still facing armed conflicts.” 

Ko So (Performance Artist)

Ko So is a performance and multimedia artist and enviromentalist who riding the bike around Shan state. He participated local and international art activities since 2005. Currently he participated the international performance art event organized by New Zero Artspace in 2018 and 2019 in Yangon. He always concerned about the nature and environment also stand for peace to against civil war and conflict between different group of arm force. As his invol -vement in the art community of ethnic of Shan state he promote in the social culture and arts.

Thuma Collective (Photography Collective)

Thuma Collective is a group of female photographers from Myanmar who are dedicated to visual storytelling. “Thuma” means “She” in Myanmar language. The collective was initiated in 2017 by the 5 women photographer. Thuma’s works have been exhibited in local and international art scenes. To name a few are their collective exhibitions; “Us & Beyond” and “Disclosure” at Myanmar Deitta gallery and Pursuing Arts in Research Festival in Yangon. 

Pyae Phyo Thant Nyo (Interdisciplinary Artist)

London/ Yangon based artist Pyae Phyo Thant Nyo is into self exploration and spirituality. His artistic practice shifts between photography/video, painting, sculpture and installation, contributing with a poetic and plastic vision about dangerous or conflicting situations.He likes exploring and telling stories. This multidisciplinary artist is currently studying at Camberwell College of Arts, London and is a part of Yangon based art collective BOUHINGA. He is interested in uncommon and isolated landscapes; being time, memory, mankind and nature.
 (Source: Myanm/art Facebook page)

Sai Htin Lin Htet (Photography)

Sai Htin Linn Htet is a Yangon-based curator, artist and peace educator. Based on the theme of empathy, Sai focuses on issues about human rights, pollution, gender equality, identity and discrimination. His works are the responses reflected upon personal experience about various human conditions mostly triggered by his mixed ethnic background, identity, gender, deep-rooted social issues, restricted freedom of expression and conflicts in Myanmar. Sai was a recipient of Goldsmiths Fellowship from the University of London in 2019.

Project Background:

At the time of starting our project, we focused on the documenting of alternative art scene of Myanmar and archiving database of artistic approaches of local art scene. We aimed  to develop of contemporary art practices and educational approaches. In fact that Myanmar art scene needs theoretical research and curatorial practices, which we has not fully prepared and organized infrastructures by the government institutions. The involvement of art in everyday life, except from the works of commercial art market, the effective results of reconsider the status quo of art much depends on the emerging of technologies changes are becoming more powerful. Photo, Video, moving images and sound experimenting has created a new art forms. These new pages are a compilation of our records. We hope that, these young generations of art practitioners will reflected the current identity with their own language of creations.

About the Project:

Our first project was conducted in 2013, the video interviews with artists and curators to share stories about how the scope of local art scene is going on. The project had positive responses of local and international art communities. In 2019, our second project was supported partially by AURA and the Japan Foundation Yangon office, to update research on local art scene after 2015 of social/political changes. The experimental and new ideas were rising slowly among young artists without supporting by the government. However, we believe the new era of art is emerging under many challenges. We will examine the various voices and feature the most important art works and ideas of the present time in multidisciplinary art through these different generations.

  • DVD magazine Vol;1 (2013)

  • DVD magazine Vol;2 (2019)

About SoCA (School of Contemporary Art):

SOCA has been initiated the project since 2015 in Yangon, for alternative art learning and distinction as response to mainstream old practices. We are aiming for building up community with art movements alternatively and a new platform for the young artists into contemporary art. SOCA provided a lot of programs via online, public exhibitions and international workshop in cross-media. SOCA’s Art projects are free of charges movements and independently organized to support local art students who want to get further knowledge and connections in international links, we provides tactical approaches to learning, productions, research in contemporary practices and samples. We build up a platform for intellectual exchange and critical dialogue to creative mindset in local artists community. SOCA is running the online programs and special event like artist talk, art workshop and exhibit events based in Yangon.