/30 Archive

Lukas Birk

Myanmar Photo Archive

Myanmar has hardly any publicly accessible visual archives
The Myanmar Photo Archive is a physical collection of photographic materials from Myanmar. The materials range from studio portraiture, private photo albums, official photography, company records, scientific research photography, documentary images as well as studio accessories, slides and negatives. The archive aims to create a comprehensive record of photographic materials and culture and provide historic context to the materials within the archive.

Over the last 5 years we have organised exhibitions in Yangon show-casing various aspects of Myanmar photographic history from fashion to studio photography.

We are also publishing photographic books in Yangon with materials from the archive. The two books presented here are REPRODUCED – Rethinking P.A. Klier And D.A. Ahuja and U THAN MAUNG – The No 1 Amateur Photographer.

REPRODUCED: In an age of digital communication and fast-spreading imagery, we have to reflect even more on the sources of our information. In Myanmar, just as in many other countries that were colonised and overpowered by European forces, the first images were produced through the lens of superiority, catering to the desires of foreign audiences for exotic satisfaction. These images have prevailed and give base to a past reality that is in many cases a somewhat fictional representation. The idea for this book was conceived with the question of what can be believed or should be rethought in regards to some of the most widespread photographs of the early 20th century that were produced in Myanmar by Philipp Adolphe Klier and D.A. Ahuja.

U THAN MAUNG:There are two people I would have loved to have met in order to understand the practice of Burmese photographers before my time: D.A. Ahuja and U Than Maung. While D.A. Ahuja was probably the most influential professional image-maker, U Than Maung might have been the most influential amateur photographer. The images he left us with convey his incredible sensitivity for the environment around him. He understood that the events of his lifetime had to be documented for future generations. Sadly, most of his materials from before independence have been lost or ended up in obscurity. The images we present in this book show a devastating and yet hopeful period in Myanmar's history

The books are available on the Fraglich Publishing website.

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