YANGON TENTATIVELY by Marylise Vigneau and Aun Raza

Exhibition From February 17 to March 4 | Mahabandoola Park

Opening on Saturday 17 February

Photographers Vigneau and Raza take us on two striking, simultaneous and yet autonomous journeys. Just like his soap bubble vendor adorned with a clown hat, Raza offers us a city of surreptitious beauties and solitary fantasies. Of unassuming joys and sweetly incongruous scenes. Of friendly stray dogs. Of children playing with nothings. Of reflections and travellers on their way to ordinary life. A father embraces and protects his sleeping child in the seemingly huge city. In a blackish shack, the soles of four feet give a couple. Preferably as an acrobat, Raza plays hide-and-seek with what he is seeing and with who is watching him. What about this iron hanging in the morning space over the Star Hotel’s terrace? His own hand is holding it. To my mind, this little stunt he could not photograph may well be a fine definition of his own manner. He is the one who finds out, as he is the one who hides out. In order to take by surprise, one has to experience surprise. A game of hide-and-seek with things –not always standing where they were meant to be; with people – always elsewhere; and with himself undoubtedly –revealing only what he wants to disclose. This game does not lack joy. Or is it not life, as he represents it, which sways between sweet tears and joy?                                               

            As for Vigneau, she prefers to unearth contrasts, contradictions and uncertainties. She steps often into the intimacy of shops, of rooms, of bars waiting for customers. On the one hand, real life made of few expectations, its tiny exchanges, its hard tasks and inequalities, its makeshift toys, sometimes its squalor and filth. On the other hand, the new communication means storming in and at the service of expectedly inaccessible consumer goods, fake modernity and tacky glamour. Over a wall, dirty but flooded with sunlight, one can outline the shadows of a group of men – who knows what they are waiting or hoping for. Vigneau is fond of sleepers, heavy or simply languid. She loves looking at them within a space that is open to other horizons. Be space missing, splashy posters will do. Are those heavy thick sleeps, in the heart of the day, a refuge? Between a colonial building and a passerby wearing a traditional longyi, a huge propeller is down on the bare ground. It seems a reference to the uncertain turbulence Burma is going through (…).

In this entre-deux appears Yangon. Like the still volatile outcome of a story whose old logics are fading away and of a present full of vitality. Some odd creature that would still be running out of something else than its own movement. This piece of art made of many stories and two inextricably interwoven visions might be telling us that history is also poetry and magic.       

Jean-Daniel Gardère.

(Translated with the help of Florent Arjol Condé.) 




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