Objective, Burma! was released, exclamation mark and all, while World War II was still raging in the Pacific. It begins with newsreel footage of the “Jap-infested jungles” of Burma – “the toughest battleground in the world” – before segueing into a fictional story about a group of US paratroopers who drop behind enemy lines to destroy a Japanese radar installation.
Since 2006 Hla Myint Swe has published nearly 10 large-format books filled with pen sketches and photographs of Myanmar’s ethnic minorities. Despite his prolific output, he does not consider himself a true artist, but rather “an amateur with a profound interest in drawing and photography”.
Yoga reputedly transports one to new levels of awareness and bliss. Wouldn’t it be great if it also transported you to an exotic location with striking scenery, sumptuous balanced meals and cultural riches? These yoga destinations are only a short flight away and will align your physical and spiritual journey without breaking the bank.
But for a classroom incident, Mauk Yone Seng would be a teacher now. Shamed by an undeserved tongue-lashing from her teacher, the 15-year-old left school never to return. She exchanged her dream career for something she had never dreamed she would do.
Retired military officers have been reliving in print their hardest battles. The old soldiers describe the heat of combat, commanders’ ruses to trap the enemy and the unsung heroes who risked their lives on the battlefield.
In stone, alabaster or in concrete, they stand alongside the winding paths, on bare and windswept hilltops and between the villages, mutely recalling those who made them. The remark-stones of the remote northwest have long been beacons of memory, showing travellers not just the pathways through space but also of time.
Pitted against a collective obsession with mobile gaming, karaoke and K-Pop, there is a sense that Myanmar’s creative arts are losing their way; that artists are struggling to find the audience that, surely, they deserve. For poets in particular, this is not so much a local struggle than it is an international one: Throughout the world, poetry is a much-maligned, much-misunderstood art form that eschews mass appeal.
An exhibition now under way in Yangon could hold the key to a revival of one of the country’s most celebrated traditional crafts: puppet making. The “From Craft to Art” expo, which has been running from March 21 until today, showcases the dancing puppets built by puppet-maker Ko Aung Htike Soe, and his masters.