Walk down the streets of downtown Yangon and you’ll find that your art senses had been stirred. The old colonial buildings are a shadow of their former glory but you can still see them as you walk through the streets in Myanmar’s largest city. Amidst the chaos and poverty caused by years of military-ruling, its unassuming beauty still shines through.
Recently, there was a walking tour of galleries in central Yangon which was in conjunction of this year’s “My Yangon My Home” festival. It is aimed to draw attention to Yangon’s rising art scene and an opportunity for people residing in Yangon to think about the state of their rapidly developing urban surroundings. Getting support to hold such an event was no easy feat but the event’s goal to encourage these kind of civic engagement was something due sooner rather than later. Art and politics have always had strong links in Myanmar, with this being expressed by former political prisoners who portrayed their beliefs visually, when free speech was not a norm.
Not only that, the event was also aimed to create awareness among the urban young who seem to only live to work rather than find meaning in anything else. One of the curators, Htein Lin, chided that though there is a huge gap between gallery space and public space as people may not be as open to it, it is also not as convenient to do so as most people live in the suburbs and only go into the city for work. He also claims that although they’re not physically present in the galleries, he noticed that social media has become a major platform in allowing people to discuss and critic art. While this only the second year that the festival is held, the organizers see that there is still room for improvement and would like to encourage people in Yangon to think about what kind of art they would like to see, what sort of public spaces they would like to go to, and what kind of city they envision Yangon to develop into in the near future.
If you’re looking to explore more art in Yangon, try booking a Myanmar Yangon hotel right in the heart of the city. Only 15 minutes away from Yangon International Airport, it offers a fully serviced hotel apartment with luxuriously modern amenities and hospitable service.