Performance artist Suu Myint Thein was briefly detained by police following a street performance in Mandalay on September 20.
The 42-year-old performer, who wrapped himself in blue tape and carried a packet of paddy and a soft pen, began his performance on the corner of 69th and 37th streets and headed towards the clocktower. During the performance he handed out paddy to people on the street and wrote the letter “p”, to represent peace, on their palms.
However, he was stopped by police near Zegyo, the city’s main market, he told The Myanmar Times the following day.
“They told me that my performance creates misunderstandings, disturbances and fear. They told me to inform them first to get permission before making a performance in future and then they released me. I felt sorry that I couldn’t complete my performance and expect there to be more freedom for the arts in the future. I want to perform freely as an artist, I want all restrictions on artistic expression lifted,” Suu Myint Thein said.
“The blue tape represented peace and the act of wrapping symbolised suffering and restrictions. People around the world are suffering from wars. I just wanted to do a performance that could remind people about the importance of peace,” he said.
Suu Myint Thein held his first solo and group shows in 2000 and has since done about 20 others. Most recently, in May 2012, he was arrested along with two performers from Thailand for a show beside Mandalay moat.
Photographer and street performer Maung Ni Oo said it was “sad” that some people seemed to assume that all street performances were protests.