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Exposition looks back on 120 years of photography in Myanmar

A current Yangon exhibit will tell the story of Myanmar's photographic life over the last 120 years. Burmese Photographers", an exhibit organized by Lucas Birk, will be shown at the Yangon Photo Festival 2018, which opened last Sunday in the former Yangon Secretariat.

It shows the story and evolution of Burma's photographers, shows how it has evolved in different epochs and offers a more intimate recording of motions and incidents that we already know from time. "It was my brainchild for this exhibit when I created the Myanmar Photo Archive Projekt, which focuses on the collection of Myanmar photos and research into Myanmar's history," Birk said.

In 2013, he began the program to archive the work of Burma photography during and after the war. Birk's collection of photography includes studioportraits, private collection amateurs, and media and promotional material. To date, he has accumulated more than 100,000 pictures by visiting antiques dealers, garage sales and the photographer's work.

Burmese Photographers" contains around 300 pictures from Birk's archives. Some of the pictures do not know the identities of the photographer. "and it' s not always hard to pay tribute to them. There are some pictures that contain a photo study name or other comments," he said.

From the first room with pictures from the Colonies to the last, the exhibit shows photographs from the 1970' that captured the cultural and fashion of that age. D.A. Ahuja and his wife and daughter have been running a photo shop in Myanmar for over 120 years (1885-2007), and their photo cards are an important part of Myanmar's esthetic heritage of settlement.

The photograph was first taken to Myanmar in 1852 by the English army doctor John McCosh. Since then until the twentieth centuary album papers were the most important materials for the production of photo print. McCosh's Myanmar wizard took over the very time-consuming and labor-intensive production of these. 1915 U Ohn Maung, an assistent of the photojournalist D. A. Ahuja, opened his own photostudios, the London Art Studios, which according to Birk was probably the first photostudios in Burma.

Shortly afterwards U Pu opened the first Burma recording facility in Mawlamyine, called National U Pu. Afterwards many photo stuios like Ko Lay Photo Studió, Sandah Arts, Them Jin Studiów and orientental studiów were founded in and around Yangon, Mandalay, Pyay and Mawlamyine. "Our primary purpose in this exhibit is to showcase the evolution of the skills, standard and technologies of Myanmar photography in one place.

All of these photographs were taken by Myanmar photographers," Birk said. This next phase of the show will focus on the Second World War, which ended in 1945, and the fight for Burma's independency. Photographs are shown in the shape of still pictures and filmlets.

Another room shows photo assays on film, mostly by young nativeographers. It is a reproduction of a photo studios from theonial time. It is a favourite place for those who visit the show to use it as a background for their own work. In the last room you will find a set of pictures taken since the war, among them pictures that document the economy of the land and the identity cards that are needed by the population to find work.

In this time the photo technique was changing and many persons opened photo salons or began to take the mode photograph seriously. The last room also contains samples of the work of modern photo journalists who show how much the standard of photographic work has evolved in Myanmar. "It' a really great show for me.

I am also interested in photographing - that's why I'm here. I' ve learnt a great deal about the Myanmar photographic heritage, which I didn't know before," said Ko Khant, one of the people. "He said, "I am overcome, impressed and driven by the story and all the works on display. An accompanying work to the Burmese Photographers is available together with a choice of picture cards.

It contains many more historical photos and more information about the photographic heritage of this land, which makes it interesting for historians or anyone else looking for more information on the subject. "Hoping that many will come and see this Myanmar culture archives that we didn't have until recently.

Hopefully this show will inspire visitors to gather old photographs in their personal archive, or I will be lucky if they want to store their photographs in my Myanmar Photo Archive project," Birk said. It is open until 11 March in the former Yangon Secretariat premises.

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