Reflections on artists’ protests during the Myanmar military’s coup d’état in February 2021
Yadanar Win, a multimedia artist from Yangon, Myanmar, has been involved in the country’s contemporary art scene for the past nine years. With the help of Goethe-Institut, Win fled from Myanmar to Germany last April following the February coup d’état and is currently in exile in France. In her homeland she organised local artists and community members, and is now working to bring the diaspora together. She (together with Ma Ei and Ko Latt) is part of the performance art collective 3AM, which recently exhibited at the Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art in Reston, Virginia. Her own practice is critical of her homeland’s politics, culture, nationalism and patriarchy. She is currently focused on spreading information about the crisis in Myanmar and calling for action.
ArtReview Let’s look back to the 1 February coup d’état, in which Myanmar’s military, officially known as the Tatmadaw, deposed leaders of the democratically elected National League for Democracy, declared martial law and transferred power to Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing. You were in the country at the time. Can you share your experience of this event and its aftermath?
Yadanar Win At that time I was in the quarantine centre, having just arrived in Myanmar from France. The centre was in darkness, with the phone and internet dead. We knew something was wrong because it was the exact date that Parliament would have convened to recognise the NLD’s election victory. As people in the centre left their rooms to talk, we heard the coup d’état had taken place. It was shocking, and for three days the whole country was silent; then Tayzar San [a physician and pro-democracy activist from Mandalay] organised the first protest, and afterwards everyone was in the streets. We felt betrayed, sad and angry. Continue