In 2011 ISCP launched an annual residency for an international contemporary art organization. The residency was initiated to support cultural exchange by bringing an international perspective into a local context. Clark House Initiative, Bombay will be the second organization to undertake this residency. Beginning in November 2012, Clark House will bring their program to New York and will organize an exhibition, series of discussions and performances, as well as a meeting between Burmese artists Htein Lin and Sitt Nyein Aye.
Clark House Initiative is a curatorial practice about a place, which in sharing a junction with two museums and a cinema, mirrors the fiction of what these spaces could be. It was established in 2010 by Zasha Colah and Sumesh Sharma as a curatorial collaborative concerned with ideas of freedom.
Htein Lin and Sitt Nyein Aye: Burma to India to New York
Exhibition opening: Friday, November 9th, 7-9pm
This exhibition tells the story of the friendship shared between Burmese artists Htein Lin and Sitt Nyein Aye in the Manipuri forests, India in 1988, and with the comedian Zarganar in Rangoon, Burma in the 1990s. Htein Lin and Sitt Nyein Aye have not seen each other since their first meeting in 1988. The two sides to Htein Lin’s practice, his aesthetics and satire, are mirrored in the combined influence of his mentor Sitt Nyein Aye, an artist and political refugee who lived in Delhi, and Zarganar, a comedian, often in prison for this satire. The exhibition is also about the spirit and vitality of comic force against the formality of the law and the courts.
Clark House will present rarely seen selections from Sitt Nyein Aye’s archive containing drawings of his journey from Burma to India, the camps and refugee communities in which he lived, his own writing and editorial work, his autobiography, catalogues of his exhibitions, and the important publications he edited and published from the makeshift set-ups of printing machines in Rangoon, the border forests, and finally in Delhi.
A video documenting the artist Htein Lin’s second performance, at an exhibition opening in Yangon, Burma in the 1990s, will also be on view. This video had been kept secret since its creation and was only returned to the artist in 2012.
Collective Practices Discussion
Saturday, November 10th, 5pm
Clark House is currently working on the idea of cultural transfer - how a work of culture can be transferred to another cultural context, which may be another geography or from another time. Curators Zasha Colah and Sumesh Sharma will present works using skype, video and assemblage to discuss their on-going research of collective practices from various parts of India, especially the Northeast.
Sitt Nyein Aye in conversation with Zasha Colah and Sumesh Sharma
Sunday, November 11th, 5pm
Sitt Nyein Aye, [pronounced: sinyay-aye; meaning war to peace], was a celebrated artist in Burma before fleeing to India following the repercussions of the 8888 Uprising. Sitt Nyein Aye, as a student leader, was one of the few people to take to the streets the morning the military began firing on a protest that had spread through the entire country. Amidst these trying circumstances, Sitt Nyein Aye edited and published a pamphlet, which had a viral distribution of nearly 16,000 copies every alternate day. He moved to Delhi after two years in a refugee camp in Manipur, and for twenty years he lived in the house of George Fernandes, the India ex-defense minister’s government home. When Fernandes left this house, Sitt Nyein Aye spent a year in Janakpuri in Delhi, home to a large population of Indian-origin Burmese and exiles from Myanmar including the Mizzima News office. In October 2011, he was granted relocation to the United States. He moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he has been working on building a pagoda.
Drawings on the Forest Floor: Htein Lin and Sitt Nyein Aye in conversation
date to be announced
This will be the first meeting of Burmese artists Htein Lin and Sitt Nyein Aye since they fled to the border hills following the repression of the democratic protest against the military regime in Burma that began on August 8, 1988, now known as the 8888 Uprising.
The young law student Htein Lin first met the celebrated Mandalay painter Sitt Nyein Aye in the Indian Patkai forest hills of Manipur. Htein Lin will reflect on the influence of the elder artist, and how their discussions of art and life led to a turning point in Htein Lin’s life from his pursuit of becomimg a lawyer or joining the democratic resistance movement to instead becoming an artist. "Sitt Nyein Aye asked me if I knew the work of Francis Bacon, and when I shrugged vaguely, he said, 'oh but I must explain to you the work of this amazing man', and he drew pictures in the mud" (from a conversation with Htein Lin).
Together they will speak about art and philosophy, duty and 'the artist's way,' recapturing the content of their discussions from 24 years ago, and Sitt Nyein Aye’s imparting of an art education through drawings on the floor of the forest.