Art and Social Activism in Southeast Asia: Stealing Public Space

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:: Scroll down to view the Burmese Artist, Activist, and Political Refugee Chaw Ei Thein's presentation below ::

Chaw Ei Thein, Burmese Artist, Activist, and Political Refugee •

Thein spoke about her work as an artist, public art in contemporary Burma and her experiences as a refugee and activist. Although she noted that she graduated with a law degree in 1994, her artistic recognition started at an early age. With her father, Artist Maung Maung Thein (Pathein), as her art teacher and mentor, she developed a diverse artistic practice as a painter and a performance artist. Her work, which is shown internationally, candidly portrays the contradictions and conflicts of her socio-political environment. Her artworks are primarily interpretations of her personal experiences struggling with the lack of freedom of speech and the impact of social transformation. 

Over the years she has lectured and exhibited extensively, participating in numerous international performance art festivals. She exhibited September Sweetness, a collaboration with Richard Streitmatter-Tran, at the Singapore Biennale in 2008 and gave the talk ‘The Burmese Performance Art Scene: Faced by Burmese Artists’ at the Asia House Gallery in London in 2007. She has been selected for several awards and residencies in the United States, including an Asian Cultural Council fellowship in New York from 2009 to 2010, an Art Omi fellowship, the Gardarev Center Fellowship and the GAEA Foundation’s Sea Change Residency. Recently she received an AIT (Art Initiative Tokyo) fellowship in Tokyo, Japan. Her work has been widely covered in the international arts press including Sculpture Now (2013), Asia Art Now (2012), Artforum, Art Asia Pacific, Yishu, C-Arts, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Straits Times