Welcome to a screening and presentation by the Norwegian artist Karl Ingar Røys who will present some of his recent films who all focus on the voice as an instrument of dissidence.
The Art of Transition
2198/10-11 Soi Taweewattana
Yannawa, 10110 Bangkok, Thailand
Saturday June 16 at 18.00
Two Channel HD Video. Duration 16.51 min
Burmese Days looks at cultural production in Yangon and how it has been affected by the political regime. The two-channel film takes its name from George Orwell’s novel of the same title. Some Burmese regard Orwell’s books as prescient: tracking Burma’s recent history from colonial oppression in Burmese Days, the socialist military coup in Animal Farm, to the tyrannical dictatorship portrayed in his most famous novel 1984. Burma was ruled by a military junta from 1962 to 2011, which controlled all artistic production; censoring works including George Orwell’s novels and forcing galleries to seek permission for the artworks they exhibited. Røys’ Burmese Days occupies the aftermath of the 2012 media reforms and intimately portrays Yangon as a site where the personal and the political are overlaid. Drawing upon the real experiences of individuals who lived under the regime – from the punk vocalist Skum with outspoken lyrics and the artist San Zaw Htway who makes work out of rubbish – Røys intertwines subjectivity into an uncertain reality.
- Cassandra Needham. John Jones Project Space, London. UK
Featuring: Eaid Dhi, J‐ME, Maung Oo, Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi, San Zaw Htway, SKÜM
Translation: Aung Ba Nyo, Khin Maung Saw, Mary Hla & So Moe Aung
Advicers: Audun Aagre. The Norwegian Burma Committee & Ma Thida, Yangon
Sound: Matthias Kispert. Camera: Karl Ingar Røys
The Generation of the Peacocks (Down Tot Myo Sat)
Single Channel HD Video. Duration 5.17 min
Thangyat is one of the oldest examples of Burmese song culture. It is performed with a lead singer who has a dancing chorus behind him which responds to the main singer. Thangyat can be funny and satirical combining politics, poetry, dance and music. Traditionally, troupes of Thangyat singers celebrate the yearly Burmese water-festival with songs, chants, dances and plays. The performances were banned for decades because they often have an anti-authoritarian slant but have been officially allowed since 2013. Still, Thangyat groups were required to send their chants to the regional government’s Information and Public Relation Department for approval also in 2015. According to government rules, chants cannot feature “one-sided accusations and criticisms that could affect the dignity of the Union of Republic of Myanmar and the government” and must not “lead to the disintegration of national solidarity”. The student movement in Burma has been a very important political force in the most pivotal events in its brutal history. Even after the new political reforms several university students who work politically have been intimidated and arrested.
Fearuring: Zayar Lwin, Min Thu Kyaw, Paing Ye Thu, Aung Aung, Tint Tint Su, Paing Phyo Min, Nan Lin & Han Htoo Khant Paing
Translation: Nilar Kyaw. Camera/Sound: Karl Ingar Røys
Single Channel HD Video. Duration 15.11 min
La Solfónica is a Spanish choir based in Madrid, which grew out of the protests at Puerta del Sol on May 15, 2011, the day after which the “15-M” movement is named. Formed in the run-up to regional elections, its members, inspired by the Arab Spring, demanded change in a system dominated by the conservative People’s Party and the center-left Socialist Workers’ Party, which was in power at the time. Performing classical music at demonstrations, the choir follows the tradition of composers like Giuseppe Verdi, who in the opera Nabucco propagated the liberation of northern Italy from Austria. This opera was written in 1841 and became closely linked with the Italian unification movement. David Alegre, conductor of La Solfónica, says the same message still resonates today in Spain, more than 170 years later. At that time he says, “it was a political military occupation but today the occupations are economic and ideological. We apparently have a democracy in Spain but they repress democratic features that allow citizens to participate and really change things”. Rianxeira is a film about collective resonance and dissonance as dissidence.
Music: Pau Casals: Song of the Birds, La Solfónica
Voiceover: David Alegre (Conductor), Elena Gómez Trigo (Vocal Coach) & Ana Olmos (Song)
Camera/Sound: Francisca Valenzuela Moguillansky & Karl Ingar Røys
Translation: Francisca Valenzuela Moguillansky
Bright Collection of Small Victories
Single Channel HD Video 17 min. (2016)
Single Channel HD Video 17 min. (2016)
Trishaws, or cycle rickshaws (called saiq-ka in Burmese, a phonetic translation of the English 'side-car') are one of the most readily available forms of short-distance transport in Myanmar. In the roundabout at the Sule Pagoda in Yangon, the words “Aung San Suu Kyi” are being repeated over and over again by the rider whenever he is in motion. The rider circle the roundabout eight times managing his way in the heavy traffic.
The brutality of the Burmese military junta made international headlines following the massacre of hundreds of peaceful pro-democracy protesters in 1988. When, in 1990, the party of opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi won an overwhelming election victory, the generals ignored the results and Aung San Suu Kyi was kept under house arrest. Pinning her picture up, in public or in private, became grounds for arrest. All the more startling, then, was the design of a modest banknote that the government commissioned and published at that time. The designer of the new one-kyat note was a political supporter of Aung San Suu Kyi and he saw an opportunity for subversion in his task. He knew the note must include an image of Aung San Suu Kyi’s late father, General Aung San. The general was the founder of the Burmese army, and was revered by the Burmese for his pivotal role in securing his country’s independence from British colonial rule.
The designer engraved the image of the general in the watermark. As he drew, however, he subtly softened the sharp line of the soldier’s jaw. He also used a light hand when drawing the general’s eyes, nose, and mouth. From these slight, almost imperceptible changes emerged a powerful form of sedition: The face of the father was gently transformed into the face of the daughter. The censors approved the design—failing to notice that the watermark resembled the daughter more than the father. With the subversive image in place, the banknote was printed, distributed, and put into mass circulation.
In tea shops and pagodas across the country in the weeks and months that followed, people whispered to each other as they studied the new note with its hidden portrait of “The Lady,” as Aung San Suu Kyi is known to her compatriots. Aung San Suu Kyi’s name, incidentally, translates as “Bright Collection of Small Victories.” The act of subversion wasn’t limited to the main portrait. The floral design consists of four circles of eight petals—eight around eight around eight around eight, echoing the date of Burma’s “four-eights” uprising that began on 8/8/88. Although the people held up the banknote with disbelief and pride, it was not pride that the generals felt. The subtly defiant one-kyat note was withdrawn from circulation and possession of the banknote became illegal. Those who kept it continue to treasure it. It is known as the “democracy note.”