A show of dissent

Yawnghwe Office In Exile. Photo: Preecha Pattara

An office, an artist's studio, a Burmese tea house, the "Yawnghwe Office In Exile" at Cartel Artspace encompasses all these spaces and more -- for an office does not only need to contain a desk and a computer, but it is primarily a location for the production of thoughts and ideas.

Shan exile and artist Sawangwonse Yawnghwe's performative and participatory exhibition is an open invitation to visitors to discuss art and regional and global politics.

Since Aug 3 and until the end of the month, the artist is inhabiting the gallery space, turning the installation into a mobile entity, where the furniture and ready-made objects can be moved around and the audience becomes part of a performance.

While the exhibition deals with Sawangwongse's conflicted past -- the artist is not only the grandson of Burma's first president that was ousted during the military coup but is also related to the co-founders of the Shan State Army -- it is also anchored in the present socio-political context and, through discussions and elaboration of new thoughts, opens a door towards the future.

Yawnghwe Office in Exile. Photo: Preecha Pattara

The oft-violent imagery, symbolism and wording of his paintings is contrasted by the artist's conscious choice to expose himself in a vulnerable position, putting himself at risk by allowing the audience to co-inhabit the space, co-create and perhaps even take control over the exhibition.

The exhibition's subtitle "Platform To Dissent" is an open-call for visitors to debate and voice their opinions, creating a cross-border and cross-cultural dialogue in a context where individual freedoms are increasingly curbed.

Yawnghwe Office in Exile runs at Cartel Artspace on Narathiwat Ratchanakharin Road until Aug 30. The artist will be performing and painting on-site Wednesdays-Sundays from 2-6pm.

-- Ariane Kupferman-Sutthavong



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