Myanmar artists access international art community, Art Radar speaks to Aye Ko about +ROAD
Posted by artradar on August 3, 2010
Late last month, Art Radar spoke with Nindityo Adipurnomo, one of the executive directors of Cemeti Art House, about the recent “+ROAD” collaborative project and exhibition between five young artists from Myanmar and five from Indonesia. He presented our readers with valuable insight into the Indonesian art climate and his perspective on the project.
Art Radar Asia thought it important to find out what is going on in Myanmar, so we contacted Aye Ko, Executive Director of New Zero Art Space and one of the participating artists in the exhibition. Here is what he had to say…
Outreaching to one of the most prestigious art centers in Asia
The reason why Aye Ko initiated the “+ROAD” project, as he said, was because he knew that Cemeti Art House is one of the most important art centers in Asia. He had had his first experience with Cemeti Art House when he invited the two executive directors, Nindityo Adipurnomo and his wife Mella Jaarsma, to the ASEAN Contemporary Art Exchange Program in 2009, where New Zero Group tried its best to build mutual understanding and connections with Cemeti. The project was initiated as a further step towards collaboration.
Aye Ko was keen for New Zero Group to learn from Cemeti Art House. He says,
The whole project was what we asked Nindityo for. The detailed program was planned by Cemeti Art House. As you know, Cemeti Art House’s experience is about twenty years, but honestly New Zero is just green. That’s why we need to learn from them.
Access to a passport the major selection criteria for Myanmar artists
According to Aye Ko, the most important consideration in the selection of Myanmar artists to participate in “+ROAD” was whether the artists held a valid passport, which is very difficult and costly to obtain in Myanmar. The second consideration was whether the artists could concentrate on their artwork and be serious about it. The final consideration: selecting a variety of artists who produced different genres and styles of work.
The “+ROAD” project ran for two weeks; an exhibition followed. Although two weeks is not a long time, Aye Ko did have a chance to observe the Indonesian art scene, culture and developing environment, especially during the workshops, when he and the other artists had friendly conversations and shared their knowledge, opinions and ideas. He attributes their successful communication to patience, understanding and a passion for arts, especially new media and contemporary art.
When Aye Ko and other artists brainstormed ideas in workshops, they didn’t know these ideas would be used to put together an exhibition; the news came as a surprise as well as a headache when the Cemeti organisers broke it. The artists began to seriously discuss their ideas: ways of presenting them as well as the use of materials, lighting and space. Aye Ko explained that this process is how great artworks are created and how artists gain respect and admiration from each other.
Myanmar artists need to learn from their Indonesian counterparts
Presentation of ideas and reflections on society were usually different for each of the artists involved in the “+ROAD” project, who had different ideas and emotions because of their unique social-cultural backgrounds and corresponding identities, but Aye Ko appreciated the differences. As he explains,
The sense of art could be promoted through sharing. Different ideas could also help [us] to understand more about their passion and identities. We also have an opportunity to oppose a view point.
Aye Ko felt that two weeks were a rather short period of time in which to brainstorm ideas and produce a piece of artwork, but overall he enjoyed the experience. It gave him the opportunity to discover different ideas and styles in others’ artwork and to learn from the Indonesian artists. As he explains,
I saw how hard working the artists from Indonesia are. I think the Indonesia artists concentrated a lot on their art and the ideas and they feel deeply about their art. I feel that we, Myanmar artists, need to work more, concentrate more and improve our communication.
Aye Ko’s view of the Myanmar art scene and future prospects
Aye Ko believes that projects like “+ROAD” are crucial for educating Myanmar artists and exposing them to international art practices and standards.
[The] Myanmar art scence is isolated from other countries. It needs to develop internationally and take time to develop enough for [the] international [art community]. Indonesian artists are catching up with international artists. [The] international art society is interested in Indonesia artists, in my opinion. There are many museums in Indoneisa but there is only one in Myanmar.
This project is a very crucial event, not only for me but also for New Zero Art Space, Myanmar artists and arts, and new generation artists. Because our country is isolated, it can [be] directed from an isolated country to a free and open art society. With this hope, I am trying to do different types of projects which can give [me] more knowledge.
[By] displaying these exchange programs, Myanmar artists knock the door of international art society for the first time.
As I said, I am planning to make this kind of event in Myanmar. We already did the Nippon-Myanmar Performance Art Exchange (2001/2005/2009), the Hong Kong-Myanmar Performance Art Exchange (2010), the ASEAN Contemporary Art Exchange (2009), and the Artists Residency Program (2010). There will also be the Mekong Contemporary Art Exchange in Vietnam and Bangkok this month. These events motivate me to do more art events continuously in order to promote international standards for local artists and new generation artists.
- Nindityo Adipurnomo talks with Art Radar on “+ROAD” collaboration with Myanmar artists, “gambling spirit” of Indonesian collectors – July 2010 – an original Art Radar interview representing the Indonesian side of +ROAD
- Leading non-profit institutions gathered by Tate Modern for art event: Art Radar Asia lists Asian participants – July 2010 – comprehensive descriptions of 11 Asian art spaces
- Unapologetically political Burmese artist Chaw Ei Thein discusses her country and her art: Asia Art Archive interview – June 2010 – a revealing interview which contains some first-hand insight
- Historically important Indonesian gallery Cemeti closes…to change focus – May 2009 – a report on changes to an important gallery
- Myanmar artists explore new media, produce courageous art – April 2009 – an overview with details on 4 Myanmar artists