The Gate by Nge Lay

23 December 2016 – 5 January 2017
at Myanm/art

The Gate: Photographic Series

In many old family homes, shops, and abandoned buildings in Yangon – even throughout the small cities and towns in Myanmar – hundreds of thousands of photographs mold and decay and stick to each other, melding into one with each passing season. The damp of the rain and the lack of constant electricity make maintaining an archive, no matter how small, extremely difficult. Even a family photo album cannot survive the humidity.

This year in her family member’s home, Nge Lay discovered forgotten boxes in an old car parked at the side of the house. In these boxes contained the bits and pieces of her family past, specifically her mother’s. The memory, just like the photograph, has faded. Some of the memories are already used up, some never expired, some were simply packed up and forgotten.

Tying together the life of the images contained in these boxes, as well as connecting with her own mother, and thereby herself and her daughter, is a vital path Nge Lay is eager to embark on. The series of photographs play with positive and negative, with stamps and words – expired, canceled, used. Like any archive, there are memories yet to be questioned or explored. There are moments never to be relived. What can we take away from an archive? How can we add to it? Will our precious memories end up in tossed aside to melt away in the elements? Will someone pick them up again, in the distant future?


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