Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A night out with Aung San Suu Kyi: Burmese-born fine art photographer Anne Bayin's solo Bangkok exhibition

Photo-journalist, photographer, editor and former Vietnam War correspondent Lance R. Woodruff reviews Burmese-Canadian fine art photographer Anne Bayin's new exhibit in Bangkok, taking us on a metaphoric night out with recently liberated Aung San Suu Kyi, while healing the future.

Project Liberty: Photograph by Anne Bayin:Suu Kyi/Desmond Tutu

By Lance R. Woodruff
Guest Contributor - Exclusive to ArtTraveler

Bangkok. the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT).

I thought I had arrived at a cocktail party for Burma’s best known
world figure, democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a woman who retains a
personal vibrancy and vivaciousness despite nearly two decades of
house arrest for thinking and acting in the spirit of freedom.
Anne Bayin: Photo by Lance Woodruff.

Canadian fine art photographer Anne Bayin’s Liberty Project's political-themed portraits and on-location mask photographs just opened at the FCCT.

It took me on a metaphoric journey.

Her show juxtaposes a half-portrait of Burmese
democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi with such luminaries as South Africa’s Desmond Tutu, Canadian Margaret Atwood, Czech freedom fighters Vaclav Havel, and Vietnam war napalm survivor icon Kim Phuc.

Photo by Anne Bayi: Suu Kyi and Vietnamese war casualty Kim Phuc..

Vietnames Kim Phuc in lower part of Anne Bayin photograph: Note, AP photo-journalist Nick Ut took the original black and white, award-winning photograph in 1969 immeately after a US napalm attack.

Photo by Anne Baylin: Suu Kyi/Margaret Atwood
Photo by Anne Baylin: Suu Kyi/Vaclav Havel.

Burmese-Canadian Anne Bayin carries Aung San Suu Kyi,
recently released from a long house arrest in Myanmar, to places as diverse as Cuba, Switzerland, and Turkey, using a photo mask of Suu Kyi, seating her subjects in ordinarhy tourist places--cafes, churches, a convertible. The paper mask lets her (Suu Kyi) 'visit' places she cannot or has not in person.

So encountering Aung San Suu Kyi not in person but in metaphor was rather like walking into a most intimate cocktail party of some of her best friends. But alas she was not present in person.

But the FCCT gallery is alive with her friends, and documented appearances in Havana and Istanbul and other places. A sense of intimacy is established.

Previously used in Burma political rallies, the mask becomes a metaphor for ‘The Lady’ and has a power and personality of its own.

Toronto-based Bayin went to sites worldwide where tourism and politics
collide, recruiting friends and strangers alike to don the mask and
become part of the continuing struggle for democracy in Burma.

For me an a former Indochina correspondent, I was especially moved by
Bayin’s image of Vietnamese-born Kim Phuc, photographed by Associated
Press photographer Nick Ut in Trang Bang, Vietnam, running nude amid
napalm flames in 1969.

More than the miraculous physical healing, the result of life-saving
emergency surgeries and years of reconstructive and cosmetic surgery,
Bayin has known and documented Kim Phuc’s engagement with love and the
practice of reconciliation.

Bayin’s FCCT installation is a selection from a larger work designed to promote freedom.

Anne Bayin's Kim Phuc.jpg
Vietnames-born napalm victim today: Kim Phuc. Photo by Anne Bayin.
Photo by Anne Baylin.

Aung San Suu Kyi  has said "Please use your liberty to promote ours."

The exhibition is endorsed by Nobel Laureate
Vaclav Havel and Amnesty International Canada.

Toronto photographer Bayin uses the paper mask of Suu  
Kyi to illustrate the struggle of the Burmese people while
exploring human rights and freedoms beyond Burma's borders.

The half-portraits link Suu Kyi’s children with writers, activists,
diplomats, and others such as jazz great Wayne Shorter,
whose composition "Aung San Suu Kyi"  won a 1997 Grammy.

Kim Phuc has been quoted as saying “We cannot change
history, but with love we can heal the future.”

That philosophy seems to infuse the actions and thinking of Aung San Suu Kyi herself, and of photographic artist Anne Bayin as she witnesses for liberty, freedom and justice for Burma.

Lance Woodruff linkages in education and the arts, culture, history
and development of India, China & South East Asia, 90/4 Sukhumvit Soi
81, Apt. 2, Bangchak, Phrakanong, Bangkok 10260 Thailand.  Tel:
02-742-4260 Mobile: 087-070-0594; Email:

Rock on and practice peace and freedom.

ArtTraveler videos can be seen on YouTube. Look in on the life of Dutch walkers Rob and Joost on their 1,000-km. pilgramage (Via de la Plata), from Seville to Santiago de Compostelo.
Also, for those of you interested in ArtTraveler adventures walking in Andalusia's mountains or taking mosaic or sculpture workshops, check out

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM).

No comments:

Post a Comment