Questions for Performance Artists

August 2010 – All questions translated into Burmese by Htoo Lwin Myo

Performance Questions

Are you particularly influenced by any philosophers or performance theory?  If so, why? How does it affect your work?

Many performance artists began by performing in the streets, giving the work a social and/or interactive context.  Is this still practiced? Why is it important to hold events outside the gallery?  Why in a village?

Charles Merewether said in an article that performance art is “an act of survival.” He goes on to say that it is “a means of mobilizing and registering the body in order to document an experience that has lost its power of agency.” Do you use performance as a power of agency?

Po Po said about his work of the rice grown in lunch boxes – “I wanted to know they could grow in this limited situation.”  If we treat this is a metaphor, would you say that Myanmar artists are succeeding in achieving great things with limited means?

How does “site” play into your work? What about lighting? Timing?

Is performance a kind of continuation of folklore?

In the book The Great Po Sein, the author writes about the two main characters who “…both performed in the annual pagoda festival, a celebration that combined religious devotion to Buddha with trading of wares and gay entertainments, all upon the grounds of the holy shrine.”  How might we reinterpret contemporary performance as a new manifestation of this traditional “marketplace performance in a Buddhist context?”

Someone described performing art in Myanmar as a game of cat and mouse, which gives it a bit of comedic interpretation.  Though there is nothing funny about the situation in Myanmar, how does performance provide some release in terms making light of a heavy situation?

Why is performance art more closely associated with visual art than with theatre?

Do you believe that performance takes on the role of activism in the context of Myanmar?  In general?

Is performance in Myanmar influenced by traditional Myanmar theatre?  Is it a result of it?

Do you like to develop a relationship with the audience through performance? Or is it a personal expression that just happens to be witnessed?

On bearing witness – how important is it for those in Myanmar, who are not involved in the arts, to understand what performance art is?

I understand that the govt gives little recognition due to the lack of understanding – if and when they do understand, will they see as a threat? Or can you merely cite it as an extension of the traditional arts, which they encourage to a certain extent?

Due to Myanmar’s unique condition, performance art has an extremely important position. Agree or disagree?

When you moved from a flat medium to an active, bodily on, did you feel a sense of release?

What is your earliest memory of performing?

General Questions

What inspires your work?

How does your work compare to other Myanmar artists?

What is your favorite medium to work with? Why?

Is yours a social message or a personal one?

Do you keep a journal? How important is Memory to your work?

Do you prefer exhibiting in other countries or your own?

Does the message of a work get lost outside your own country?

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

Future plans?

How do you make a living? Does it have any effect on your artwork?

How are/were you influenced by those around you in your work?

Who are your major outside influences? Writers? Artists? Families?

A few Myanmar artists I’ve spoken with say that their work is personal and not political, but it is often interpreted that way.  Do you think that these artists, given more freedom of expression within their own country would address more political themes?

How does Buddhism play a role in your work?

Are there aspects of your work as a Myanmar artist that would not be understood or could not be interpreted by an international audience?

What is unique about Myanmar when placed in the context of Southeast Asia? Asia in general?




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