Yangon photo fest ~ Meeting “The Lady”

I’m back in Bangkok after a highly enjoyable few days at the Yangon Photo Festival.

The brainchild of photographer Christophe Loviny, the festival is now in its 5th year and takes place at the French Institute of Yangon with exhibitions, screenings and workshops. The festival is under the patronage of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Loviny enlisted the help of photographer and gallery owner Nicolas Havette to start a series of workshops for local photographers, and together they have now trained over 150 people. Some of these young photographers are now working for Reuters, AFP and the Myanmar Times.

Over the past year, I have had the pleasure of getting to know the very talented Min Zayar Oo who now works with Reuters. His work was on show at the festival. His feature on the aftermath of violence in Rakhine State won him one of the awards up for grabs at the Yangon Photo Night, a sort of gala evening and festival closing night held in the gardens of the Institute with slide show screenings and an award ceremony.

© Reuters / Minzayar – L: A puppy stands by remains of a dog local residents said was its mother, days after it was killed in an area burnt in violence at East Pikesake ward in Kyaukphyu November 6, 2012. R: People sit amongst ruins of a burnt neighborhood at East Pikesake ward in Kyaukphyu November 5, 2012.

Min Zayar Oo or “Minzayar” (his byline) first picked up a camera just over 2 and a half years ago, enrolled in a workshop run by Loviny and started fine tuning his photography skills. He decided to follow Aung San Suu Kyi on the campaign trail last year “whether I had good skills or not” he told me. But his persistence paid off, working as a fixer and photographer with Reuters Bangkok bureau chief photographer Damir Sagolj during the run-up to the elections – the day after the election results were announced, his picture (below) made the front page of the Herald Tribune.

© Reuters / Minzayar – Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi waves to supporters as she leaves the office of her National League for Democracy (NLD) after giving a speech in Yangon.

The festival’s exhibits were displayed all over the Institute’s compound including the garden, I particularly enjoyed Bruno Quinquet’s take on Tokyo with his project, “Salaryman” .

Salaryman Project © Bruno Quinquet

Quinquet describes the work as such: “The Salaryman Project is on a double mission. On one hand, it explores images of masculinity and normality in the world of Tokyo office workers. On the other hand, it is an observation of the sense of the season in the Japanese capital.”

Also, I had the privilege of meeting Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and taking her around my exhibition ‘Yangon Awakening’ on the Yangon Photo night. Photo: Pyay Kyaw Myint

It was a pleasure to spend time with all the photographers and young talent who participated in the workshops. Look out for the program of next year’s edition of the festival, as the event is gaining momentum and is very much worth the trip to Yangon.

Yangon Photo Festival Exhibitions:

Yangon Awakening – by Cedric Arnold
Democracy – by Aung Pyae, Minzayar and Pyay Kyaw Myint
Earth and Heaven – by Marianne Niermans
Freedom – by Fernando Moleres
Homage to Remi Ochlik
Intended Consequences – by Jonathan Torgovnik
Libera Me – by Zhao Qiu Ying
Paris – by Yann Layma
Salaryman Project – by Bruno Quinquet
Sangatte – by Hervé Lequeux

http://www.yangonphoto.com