OSI Moving Walls 19 – Burma’s Fearlessness in NYC

A great week back in the big apple and saw the Moving Walls 19 opening reception being held in great style at the Open Society Foundations headquarters in New York City. The work ha sheen well received and looks great on the walls at OSF and its great to be partnered with them now to promote this issue even further. Below is a short clip of the opening night and some images of the installation. Thanks to all at OSF in the Documentary Photography Project and the Burma Project – here’s to the future.

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Abhaya Burma’s Fearlessness – Bangkok Exhibition

Last week saw the opening of the exhibition and also the official book launch, held at the beautiful Serindia Gallery in Bangkok in association with River Books and the Canadian Embassy. Unfortunately we could not be there as we are in New York for the opening of the OSI moving Walls 19 exhibition, but by all accounts it was a great evening and a successful one too, in that no fewer than 8 Ambassadors attended the event along with various other diplomats and movers and shakers. The idea of course is to drum home the issue that 1700 still remain in jail and must be freed if Burma is to truly move forward. With these kind of people attending the event and taking copies of the book then hopefully that message can continue to resonate in the halls of power and the risks that some have taken to be in this work do not go unheeded.

Here are a couple of reviews of the evening courtesy of The Irrawaddy team and RFA who filmed the two short pieces below and also a review in The Nation. Thanks to the Irrawaddy team, RFA, U Zin Linn and Soe Aung and of course to Shane and his staff at Serindia, Narisa and to Mr Ron Hoffman the Canadian Ambassador.

‘Birmans en Dissidence’ – Le Monde

A first for France as this saturday’s ‘Le Portfolio’ section in ‘Le Magazine du Monde’ features an 8 page article previewing the book and the issue of Burma’s political prisoners.

Click this link to read the full article – Birmans en Dissidence

Lady Liberty

They say things come in threes. Today must be one of those days as ‘Lady Liberty’ kicks off the day with a front cover of the Bangkok Post’s ‘The Magazine’ with an accompanying 4 page article inside. Whilst the article is taken from my meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi soon after her release from house arrest at the start of the year and is therefore somewhat dated and not exactly bringing anything new to the table, it’s at least a nice chance for the photos to get another print run if nothing else. It’s also the first start of a busy day with the exhibition and book launch happening later this evening at the Serindia Gallery in Bangkok. I hope you can all make it there to enjoy the event, photos, book, wine! Full report on the exhibition opening and book launch will be posted later today…

Read the full article here – Bangkok Post The Magazine ‘Lady Liberty’

‘Portraits of Fearlessness’ The Bangkok Post

With the exhibition and book launch tomorrow evening (Thursday 24th) at the Serindia Gallery, the Bangkok Post ‘Life’ section features a cover feature of ‘Abhaya’ plus an interview with gallery owner Shane Suvikapakornul.

Read the full article here – Portraits of Fearlessness

Faces Without Fear

A nervous wait has thankfully ended, as not only did the floods keep books from getting in to the hands of those who have ‘roles to play’, so to speak, but also from the hands of those passing judgement. On the eve of the book launch and exhibition opening in Bangkok tomorrow at Serindia Gallery, the first review can be read here online at the Irrawaddy. Thanks to David and everyone at Irrawaddy for a great review and it’s pleasing to see my hopes for the book be understood and recognised. There’s bound to be some who have more critical viewpoints, but I welcome those thoughts with open arms too!

Burma : Land of Shadows by Chien-Chi Chang

Esteemed Magnum photographer Chien-Chi Chang and his essay on Burma: Land of Shadows. I first caught a glimpse of him when his incredible work ‘The Chain’ about mental patients at an asylum in Taiwan was on show – get hold of a copy of the book if you get a chance, it’s superb.

Click link to view Burma: Land of Shadows

Power Through A Lens – Interview with DVB

With rumours of the latest prisoner amnesty circulating like wildfire once more and the book getting its first airing in public (full details and photos to follow very soon I hope!) here’s a recent interview with Francis Wade from DVB about political prisoners and photographing in the pariah state:

Click to read the interview – Power Through A Lens

Portrait of The Lady – VOGUE UK

One year on from her release from house arrest and The Lady once more appears across the pages of VOGUE magazine with her own indomitable style and grace. At the start of the year we had an appearance in VOGUE Japan but this time it’s the turn of VOGUE UK, and the December issue out now, that my picture of Aung San Suu Kyi and Tai-Chi-Toe feature in accompanying an article written by Rebecca Frayn (screenwriter) about the forthcoming Luc Besson film “The Lady”. Back in September, Jackie and I were kindly invited to a private screening of the film with a few other close friends and with mixed emotions and opinions I think regardless of what criticism it may draw, the film will be enjoyed by many, especially amongst Burmese who rightly so hold such affection for the revered Lady of Burma. It is an almost impossible task to try to tell even a small part of the story of Aung San Suu Kyi’s life and heroic struggle at all , let alone in under two hours. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the film currently comes in at at near to 2:20 (but is being cut) and although long and at times liberal with its historic detail, in no doubt at times a necessity to appeal to the great unthinking masses, it has its moments of emotion that hit home despite some rather ordinary acting and often trying storytelling. A story that is packed with heart wrenching emotion and drama I felt was unfortunately often not transferred to the silver screen. David Thewlis is superb as Dr Michael Aris and Michelle Yeoh gives a fine performance as The Lady, but despite what I felt the film lacked in its storytelling and sense of drama, some of the scenes and sets are superb, especially the replica house at 54 University Avenue. For those of us fortunate enough to be close enough to Burma and its history, we are of course the hardest critics to please if one focuses solely on history and detail within the film. Accepting that it is ‘based on a true-story’ one has to look past ones own personal knowledge, thoughts and beliefs and see it for the film that it is, if not the film that one may want it to be. Anyway, my thoughts and rambling ones at that and I truly hope that the film is enjoyed and receives the plaudits it deserves for trying alone where no-one else has dared try before.

Read the article  here – Portrait of the Lady

Signing in the New Arrivals

With no end in sight to the recent horrific flooding in Thailand, and in particular for me in Bangkok, the book seemed destined to be delayed by the deluge of water that seemed never ending. But somehow the first batch managed to make it out in between low and high tide and arrived just in time for me to despatch the first few copies before heading over another large expanse of water to the USA. Signing my first book was a novel experience and provided much entertainment, but was a great pleasure and honour to do so for a good friend and someone who works so hard for Prisoners of Conscience in Burma and around the world. The Prisoners of Conscience Appeal Fund provides grants for relief and rehabilitation to people who have been persecuted, imprisoned and tortured for their conscientiously-held beliefs. The assistance they provide is vital and the small team who work there lead by Lynn Carter work valiantly for political prisoners, human rights defenders, lawyers, environmental activists, teachers and academics who come from many different countries such as Burma, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Tibet, Iran, Cameroon and Eritrea.

Signing my life away…

After a nice cup of afternoon tea (when in Rome as they say…) there was just about time to deliver the final copy to my friends at Bayeux in London’s Soho,who have provided so much help and support over the years and are mighty fine printers to boot. So a huge thanks must go to Terry, Rick, Julie, Iris and all the team – not just for printing the recent 5ft prints that are on their way to New York for the OSI Moving Walls exhibition opening on the 30th, but for featuring the work in the windows and on display inside the reception area – cheers guys for all the hard work and support over the years.

A Bayeux Tapestry to be proud of.

Even Rhianna can’t keep her eyes off it.

Hopefully not long now until books can start hitting the shelves and I see Amazon already have it on special offer so get your copies now for a few dollars less, although think I might have to have words with my co-author about this at the weekend. With imminent exhibitions and book launches in Bangkok and New York in a couple of weeks time, it might just be somewhere closer to home where the book actually gets its first public viewing… surely not Rangoon I hear you say… That would be ridiculous…

Wouldn’t it just.