It has been an embarrassing amount of time since we updated the website. We do apologize to those who came searching for answers. After weathering the COVID 19 storm of 2020 with a generous grant from Hilfsfonds in partnership with Goethe Institut Myanmar, working on a new website for archive and art history of Myanmar, we took time in January to reopen the space after relaxed restrictions in Yangon and prepared for a better year than 2020. We had several exhibitions planned, including solo shows of Bart Was Not Here and Soe Yu Nwe. We were excited to shake off the stress and strain that the global pandemic brought to our doorstep.
Relief was not to come. On 1 February 2021, the military of Myanmar staged a coup, Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested, along with several elected officials, activists, filmmakers and musicians. The result was army personnel entering Yangon in force for the first time in nearly a decade. Courageous, stunning, and unifying protests turned deadly after several weeks and Yangon – along with the rest of the country, descended into chaos.
We spent February, March and April constantly updating our Instagram story account (@myanmart) and hosting fundraisers to raise money for artists and their families. We raised nearly 12,000 USD to distribute to CDM staff, artists, friends and those in need. Money was and is desperately needed and difficult to come by in Myanmar, where banks are limited in the amounts they are allowed to distribute and businesses have closed by the thousands, putting many out of work.
As violence from the military escalated, many were forced to flee. Some left the country, finding residency opportunities abroad. Others left Yangon to shelter in their hometowns and villages, some of which are safer than the larger cities. Many more were imprisoned or disappeared. We are constantly monitoring the situation and still accepting donations and sales in the name of supporting those in need.
The resurgence of the COVID Delta strain in the past two months has devastated the country even further. Most were or are infected. Hospitals are closed or overflowing. Oxygen and medicines are scarce due to closed borders and hoarding by the military. Myanmar has become a failed state, and the international community seems paralyzed in their inaction.
Beyond this, an entire generation of artists and poets are dying from lack of medical care. Painters Tin Maung Oo, Sonny Nyein, Ko Ko Gyi and Myanmar’s famed poet Aung Cheimt have all passed away in recent weeks. We are losing a most valuable asset in the arts and cultural sectors.
Please forgive our delay in response these next few months. We are in mourning and grief, but trying to keep our energy for those who continue to rely on us. We hope to be back in our capacity to support artists through exhibitions and research in the future.
In the mean time, thank you for visiting and supporting Myanmar’s treasured artists. We stand together. . ||| .