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Burmese Days
Solo Exhibition by Chang Chien-Chi

緬甸的日子 張乾琦個展

Feb,18,2012-Mar,24,2012

Burma: Inside the Land of Shadows



In the past half century, Burma went from the richest country in Southeast Asia to the poorest, becoming one of the most obscure and obscured nations in the world. Burma is an anomaly. It’s the most religious Buddhist country with every male entering the monastery at some point in his life to complete his monkhood. Along with Buddhism, fortune tellers and palm readers still have great influence on the people of Burma. Astrologers are treated like rock stars and publications touting predictions for coming years are among best sellers on newsstands.

In the past, the king was once guardian of the religion; today, the junta has assumed that role. Its military rulers operate with force and fear and with ubiquitous informers to control every aspect of life. Citizens are led to believe that every move they make is being watched and every word they said is being listening to. Foreign tourists, who are allowed to see the most Buddhist of peoples and pagodas, are reminded that behind the cultural façade stands the repressive regime that has held Nobel laureate democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for 15 of the past 21 years. Economists say the country has a “resource curse”—the rulers make money off resources but don’t share the wealth. The average per capita income is $US435. Burma, once the rice bowl of Asia was in tatters. According one source, Burma now exports a meager 20,000 tons of rice.

When I posed as a tourist to make these pictures, there always seemed to be shadows on my tail. Big Brother has many little brothers. Meanwhile the rest of Burmese continue to live through a real-life version of Animal Farm.