At a Glance
‘Sense of Myanmar’, black-and-white photography from photographer Nyan Win. Opens February 3, 2008, at The FCC Angkor; closes, March 2, 2008.
In contrast to most news on Myanmar, photographer Nyan Win’s exhibit at The FCC Angkor offers a decidedly apolitical view of a country so often defined by its politics.
Opening February 3rd, Nyan’s month-long exhibit looks beyond the headlines to reveal the people and landscapes that make Myanmar one of the region’s most awe-inspiring destinations.
Born in Yangoon in 1959, Nyan first dabbled in photography in 1987. In those days he shot everything around him, methodically learning the hallmarks of good photography.
Nyan’s French-language skills opened the doors to the country’s nascent tourism industry, and he was soon leading groups of tourists on month-long trips around the country, visiting ethnic minorities and exploring the world-famous temples of Bagan.
The beauty of his native land inspired his photography. As Nyan’s portfolio grew, the travel agencies that employed him began using his photographs to promote the country.
In 1998 Nyan met another Yangoon native, Douglas Moe, who worked at the 50th Street Bar & Grill and who would later become the resident manager at The FCC Angkor. More than once they discussed exhibiting Nyan’s photography at 50th Street, but for various reasons the show never made it past the idea stage.
That is, until now. Back home on vacation last year, Moe caught up with his old friend, and the old idea of a show took root.
“Sense of Myanmar” represents some of Nyan’s finest work, and the 18 black-and-white images taken from around Myanmar provide an alluring cross-section of the country’s land and people. The exhibit certainly lives up to its title.
Wisely, Nyan includes only a few images from Bagan, the ancient city defined by its 2,200-strong collection of temples, monuments and stupas. Instead, Nyan turns his lens to the people and the ways of rural life in Myanmar.
Among Nyan’s collection is a short series on ethnic minorities, including a few rare portraits of elders of the Pao, a Buddhist tribe who lives in the mountains of Inle and about which little is known. Among the standouts is a photograph of two women, woven baskets on their backs, trundling through a forest of banyan trees. Other notables include a Burmese harp player from the Royal Court and a caravan of bullock carts paused in the shade of a tree.
“Sense of Myanmar” runs through March 2, 2008, at the FCC Angkor.