Burmese Reflections

You can be our window,

a Burmese artist told us. You can tell the world about Burma and you can tell us about the world outside.

This text offers glimpses of contemporary Burma reflected in the artworks we made there during a ten-week residency in 2007 and 2008.

Download a full printable version here (PDF, 1MB)

/Erik Sandelin and Åsa Ståhl, March 2008

Little information gets in and out of Burma. In our artistic practice we deal with communication, everyday action spaces, participation and storytelling, so we decided to go there ourselves to learn more on location. Despite the volatile situation after the September 2007 events, as well as calls for boycotts from many Western countries and organisations, we opted for presence rather than isolation and went for a ten-week artist residency from November 2007 to January 2008.

This text is one way to tell the world about our Burmese experiences and hence about Burma today. It is written for everybody who are interested in Burma, contemporary art, both, or generally curious about creative practice under difficult circumstances. We hope this text is open enough for questions coming from different positions. If you don’t find the answers you are looking for, please contact us through erik*at*unswornorg and asa.stahl*at*misplay.se. There are other ways of telling this story.

We don’t claim to be Burma Experts. We write from our personal experiences of a short time of living and working from lower Burma to upper Burma, of meeting, discussing and collaborating with numerous Burmese artists. By describing and reflecting on the artworks we produced during our stay we think we can communicate something about the everyday action spaces for artists and others in contemporary Burma.

Pronouns will change from we, Erik Sandelin and Åsa Ståhl, to I as in Erik and I as in Åsa. Sadly we cannot use Burmese names without putting people at risk.


We want to sincerely thank NICA, Networking and Initiatives for Culture and the Arts, for hosting our residency in Rangoon and IASPIS, International Artists’ Studio Program In Sweden, for financial support.

We want to extend especially warm thanks to those Burmese artists whose incredible generosity and patience made us feel at home away from home.