Environment in Focus at 11th Yangon Photo Festival

By Lwin Mar Htun 16 February 2019

YANGON—The annual Yangon Photo Festival will kick off its 11th edition on Monday, featuring more than 200 photos and short photo-documentaries by artists from Myanmar and overseas with a common interest in raising the alarm on the world’s most urgent environmental threats.

Half of the works to be displayed are by artists from minority ethnic groups from Kayah, Chin and Rakhine states, reflecting the festival organizers’ efforts to bring more diversity to Myanmar’s photography scene.

“This year, we are focused on showing artworks that are related to environmental issues and climate change,” said Ko Pyay Kyaw Myint, a programmer and trainer with the Yangon Photo Festival team.

He added that, “The whole world is facing the effects of climate change, and Myanmar is the third-most-vulnerable country in the world to the effects of climate change, particularly droughts, floods and cyclones. So, we hope more people will notice that fact through this event.”

The festival was launched in 2009. Audiences have grown year by year and photographers from all over the region, as well as from around the world, are in Yangon to share their latest stories with the festival’s large audience this month.

An image from ‘Drought, Floods and Cyclones: Myanmar Climate Change’, an exhibition organized by AFP, Getty Images, Aung Si Hein, Yan Linn Han and Gloria Chithu. It will be shown in Maha Bandoola Park from Feb. 18 to March 4. / Yangon Photo Festival

Various events are being held in conjunction with the festival. “This year, we have different workshops, training sessions and activities like the Photobook Workshop by curator Lukas Birk,” Ko Pyay Kyaw Myint said.

Participation in the five-day Photobook Workshop, which took place earlier this month, was fully booked. The photobooks produced at the workshop will be shown on Feb. 21 at the Goethe Institut and in Maha Bandoola Park as part of the festival.

During the workshop, each participant had an opportunity to present their project and the ideas behind it. They produced the work themselves with help from Birk.

The other special program this year is the Photo Village, where audiences can find short photo documentaries presented by Myanmar Stories magazine and the international agencies Getty Images, AFP and Panos Pictures.

And following the huge success of the “Burmese Photographers” photo exhibition at last year’s YPS at the Secretariat, the Myanmar Photo Archive is setting up a digitization station on Feb. 22-24 at Maha Bandoola Park.

“Visitors can bring their old family photos to be digitized and can become a part of Myanmar’s biggest photography collection, which Lukas Birk is still working on,” Ko Pyay Kyaw Myint said.

From ‘The Last Elephants of Myanmar’, an exhibition of photos by Ko Myo curated by Minzayar Oo. The exhibition will be shown in Maha Bandoola Park from Feb. 18 to March 4. / Yangon Photo Festival

The festival will be held at three main venues: the French Institute, Maha Bandoola Park and Goethe Institut. The full schedule for the festival, which will run until March 4, is available on the Yangon Photo Festival Facebook page.

Photo exhibitions will be on display in Maha Bandoola Park from Feb. 18. Other activities, talks and screenings start Feb. 21.

The highlight of the YPF, the Yangon Photo Night award ceremony, will be held Feb. 24 at the French Institute, with a jury handing out prizes including Canon professional cameras, a residency at the famous 75 photography school in Brussels, and a trip to the World Press Photo Awards ceremony in Amsterdam.