Yangon Exhibition 20162016 Yangon Exhibition
Yangon's secretariat reopens for exhibition
An icon of UK folk culture and a dilapidating, mystical urban present, Yangon's historic secretariat opens a new era. The secretariat, once the center of the UK government in Burma's Colonies, is open to the general population for almost 365 working day a year. Showing a one-man exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Wolfgang Laib has based his entire professional life on the collection, exhibition and exploration of nature's treasures: bees' pollen, cream, marmoreal, and varnish.
His exhibition Where the Land and Water Ends, which opens on 14 January, presents Laib's life's work, which is the expansion and continuance of the same work he produced in the mid-1970s. Already at a young age Loib was fascinated by the art and culture of Asia.
Born to two serious connoisseurs who treat the artist as "demigods," Laib often lived in southern India, where his wife and daughter donated to a town and admired the sub-continent's work. Some time later, Laib opened a workshop in South India, near the place where his wife and daughter had worked, and expanded his journeys through Southeast Asia.
A decade after his defining experience in Asia, Laib - who was awarded the renowned Japanese Praemium Imperiale in 2015 - has now been given the chance to show his work in a land he first came to visit in the 1990s at the request of the Goethe-Institut head Franz-Xaver Augustin. "Bringing an artwork of this importance to Myanmar is something very special," said Augustin, referring not only to Loib's haunting and substantive work, but also to the importance of such an exhibition in one of the (un)famous relicts of the state.
Organizing such an activity was truly an overseas matter with an extensive lifetime of co-ordinators such as the Goethe-Institut Myanmar, the Institute for Foreign Relations, the Government of Yangon, Myanmar Heritage Preservation Ltd. and the Anawmar Art Group, who now hold the lease to the Secretariat. Since Loib's works need such large rooms and convey a feeling of agelessness, the secretariat was selected as the most practical one.
Three of the best-known works by Loib will now remain where once encroached on the south-east wings of the Secretariat by Myanmar's early legislators and the colony administrator. Under a spiral, forest-green stairway, Laib's bees' pollen sits, which are presented in various designs on a square show. Partial statue, partial archives, the bees' pollen is the same kind of pollen that he has been collecting from various different plants around one of his houses in South Germany since the 1990s.
Because of the worsening of the secretariat and the tendency of the doves to pick everything that falls to the floor, the exposition of pollen will only be visible for the first two exhibition dates. Another room offers the visitor Laib's milk stones - the gem that has won him an award in the artworld.
In the light recesses he carves from pieces of pure quartz stone, loafs fill the hollows with malt. As soon as he has started the first refilling and cleansing, he leaves the secretary's office. If this work has been shown in a museum, it is up to the exhibition's trustees to do so.
However, without a curating staff, the responsibility and privileges go to the visitor. This exhibition is thus a moment for both Laib and the countless sponsors, who will not only have the opportunity to see world-class conceptional arts, but also, without doubt, to discover the premises of the Secretariat in mid-January, a period that does not carry the burden of remembrance or a sense of responsibility at all.
In spite of the Colonies, the riots, the shootings, despite the hard labor that built this place in the first place, the house is now to be populated with polen, milk stone - something other than political life. In a Myanmar leader that Loib found over fifteen years ago, the Land and Water End finds its name cradle.
It is a small sanctuary in southwestern Myanmar, at Cape Negrais in the Ayeyarwaddy region. There, where the powerful Ayeyarwaddy runs into the oceans and the country disintegrates into swamps. The Secretariat, which will be full of the elemental beauty of loaf for almost three whole week, sees Where the Country and Waters End as both a new opening and a resurgence to the outdoors, unimportant and resistant to time.
The Land and Water End will be open from 14 January at 14:30 to 4 February every working hour from 10:00 to 17:00 at the Yangon Secretariat/Ministry. This exhibition is free of charge and open to the general public. a...