Weekly S.E.A. Radar: 11th Yangon Photo Festival; Cambodia’s first feminist arts festival

ArtsEquator Radar features articles and posts drawn from local and regional websites and publications – aggregated content from outside sources, so we are exposed to a multitude of voices in the region. Here’s a round-up of content from this week, scoured and sifted from a range of regional news websites, blogs and media platforms, and brought together in one article for convenient reading.


An image from a photo exhibition on display as part of the Yangon Photo Festival. The exhibition of works by one of Myanmar’s most important amateur photographers, U Than Maung, is curated by Lukas Birk and will be shown in Maha Bandoola Park from Feb. 18 to March 4. / Yangon Photo Festival

Environment in Focus at 11th Yangon Photo Festival
The Irrawady

YANGON—The annual Yangon Photo Festival will kick off its 11th edition on Monday, featuring more than 200 photos and short photo-documentaries by artists from Myanmar and overseas with a common interest in raising the alarm on the world’s most urgent environmental threats.

Half of the works to be displayed are by artists from minority ethnic groups from Kayah, Chin and Rakhine states, reflecting the festival organizers’ efforts to bring more diversity to Myanmar’s photography scene.

“This year, we are focused on showing artworks that are related to environmental issues and climate change,” said Ko Pyay Kyaw Myint, a programmer and trainer with the Yangon Photo Festival team. [Read more…]

“Have you been to a Chinese Opera?” This photo was taken at an opera in Cheok Beh Kieng Temple, Kuala Lumpur , Malaysia. Each opera performer has their own unique makeup. Photo: Michael Chee Yen Chuan, Malaysia, Shortlist, Open, Culture (Open competition), 2019 Sony World Photography Awards

Sony World Photography Awards / Stunning images from Southeast Asian photographers
Southeast Asia Globe

Southeast Asian photographers are well represented on this year’s Sony World Photography Awards nominations list. From actors to landscapes, the photographs capture spectacular moments in the region and around the world. [Take a look at the photographs here.]

Magdalene Magazine Hosts Launch of Mango Meter App

Jakarta – Feminist online magazine Magdalene (Magdalene.co) in tandem with German political foundation Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Office for Regional Cooperation in Asia hosted Saturday, 16 February 2019, the launch of Mango Meter, the world’s first ever feminist film review mobile application, at GoetheHaus in Jakarta.

Mango Meter is an online rating system that seeks to step up public awareness and sensitivity on the need to improve women and other gender representation in films and battle the spread of toxic messages through movies.

Mango Meter scores a movie on a 1-5 scale by accumulating users’ ratings, with 1 Mango being the lowest score and 5 Mangoes the highest according the feminist standards.

The app will automatically tally the score and show the popular rating as well as the rating done by a team of Mango Reviewers as comparison.

Mango Meter is the brainchild of a group of feminist journalist, activists and academics from six Asian countries. The team comprises Chen Yi-Chien (Taiwan), Devi Asmarani (Indonesia), Medhavinee Namjoshi (India), Meggan Evangelista (the Philippines), Sahar Gul (Pakistan) and Sharmee Hossain (Bangladesh). [Read more…]

Murals on the walls of Sosrowijayan Kulon alley in Pasar Kembang

Artists band together to advocate for sex workers in Yogyakarta’s Pasar Kembang
The Jakarta Post

The walls of Sosrowijayan Kulon alley in Pasar Kembang are now adorned with vintage comic-style murals depicting the lives of the area’s female sex workers.

One of them is a mural of a red-lipsticked woman with long blonde hair and the quote “Opo aku kudu dadi Indomie ben dadi seleramu (do I have to be a [popular instant noodle brand] Indomie for you to like me).

Luna, a member of the Yogyakarta Sex Female Workers Association (P3SY), told The Jakarta Post that the mural depicted the sorrows of sex workers in Pasar Kembang, which is located near the heart of Yogyakarta, Malioboro.

“The image of the blonde woman shows how sex workers have to appear as beautiful as possible. Sometimes we’re already trying our best to look pretty, but still don’t get any attention,” she said.

The arrival of newcomers also makes the competition tougher.

The murals in Pasar Kembang are the work of artist Iwan Wijono and his friends as part of the Pasar Bungah Care for Art and Culture activity, which was held on Feb. 14 as part of the month-long Pasar Kembang (Sarkem) Festival. [Read more…]

Phnom Penh is set to host its first feminist arts festival over the course of this weekend. Photo supplied

Feminist festivals: Women, art and empowerment in Phnom Penh
The Phnom Penh Post

Organised by a group of local and expat women, this weekend Cambodia will host its first feminist arts festival, as the three day Phnom Fem Fest (PFF) begins on Friday celebrating and empowering women, and creating positive discourse on women’s rights and gender equality in the Kingdom.

The Vagina Monologues – exploring the mystery, humour, pain, power, wisdom, outrage and excitement in women’s experiences – will be the centre piece of this year’s inaugural PFF.

The play, considered a pioneering piece of feminist arts and culture, has been translated into 46 languages and now, for the first time, the two monologues will be presented in Khmer.

All profits from the Vagina Monologues – performed by community amateur dramatics theatre group the Phnom Penh Players – will go directly to non-profit local human rights NGO Early Years Behind Bars, an organisation supporting women, mothers and children in Cambodian prisons.

“We have translated two of the monologues into Khmer for the first time and it will be performed by local actors,” says Shauna O Mahony, one of PFF’s organisers, who conceived the idea for the festival in November last year. [Read more…]

New Cambodia Artists

When the dancers need a permit
Khmer Times

As girls, they learned to become dancers and now – as young women and accomplished dancers – they’re waiting for the licence to further thrill.

They’re the Khmer women dancers who make up the small contemporary dance troupe, New Cambodia Artists and, apart from an occasional single-purpose grant, they’re self-funded, keeping the show up and dancing with revenue from their once-a-week show in their small black-box theatre in Men’s Road, Siem Reap, pulling in between three and forty paying punters for each performance at ten bucks per head.

They’d like to broaden their audience appeal, spread the gospel about what their saying with their dance moves, and up their income by performing in public venues such as hotels.. .

Or even Angkor Wat Park, or the temples as they once did.

But they’ve been unable to do this because they’ve been blacklisted since 2016 when, despite becoming an association recognised by the Ministry of Arts and Culture, they were banned by the Apsara Authority from performing at Angkor Wat World Heritage sites because their style was not Cambodian enough, and because they didn’t wear traditional costumes that covered the shoulders or skirts that hung below their knees.

(And possibly – although no-one is saying it – because of the provocative take the women dancers impart through performance about the state of womanhood in the Kingdom.) [Read more…]

Unesco’s committee selected Lakhon Khol for the world heritage list in November last year.

Push for cultural icons to join UN heritage list
The Phnom Penh Post

The Ministry of Fine Arts and Culture is hoping to have Cambodian musical theatre Lakhon Yike, traditional silver handicrafts and other art forms placed on Unesco’s cultural heritage list, it announced on Wednesday.

After closing the 5th Youth Art Festival at Phnom Penh’s Chaktomuk Theatre on Wednesday, Minister of Fine Arts and Culture Phoeurng Sackona said the ministry is looking to further register other tangible and intangible examples of cultural heritage, following the inclusion of traditional Cambodian dance drama Lakhon Khol last year.

“We filed for [Cambodian martial art] l’bokator to be included on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2017 and are now waiting for the decision from Unesco in 2020.”

“The ministry is currently preparing documents on silk weaving . . . Lakhon Yike and traditional silver handicrafts to prepare a request to the Unesco committee in order have them registered on the world heritage list,” Sackona said. [Read more…]

Weekly Radar 210219
Comprising about 30 different dances in total, xòe Thái is usually performed during community festivals. Photo dulichdienbien.vn

Xòe Thái seeks title of intangible cultural heritage
Viet Nam News

ĐIỆN BIÊN — Authorities in the northern mountainous province of Điện Biên will implement a plan to promote the recognition of xòe Thai dance as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

The provincial People’s Committee recently sent a document to the Government, the National Commission for UNESCO Việt Nam, the National Cultural Heritage Council and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) to show their determination to follow an assignment by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism on seeking the title of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity for xòe dance of the province’s Thai ethnic people.

In the document, the authority stated that after consulting cultural experts about the artistic value of xòe Thai dance, the People’s Committee pledged to embark on the construction of a national profile for the dance. [Read more…]

Cultural splendour: A Bunditpatanasilpa Institute’s College of Dramatic Arts student showing off his traditional Thai dancing mask and costume.

Treasures within Asean’s diversity
The Star Online

BANGKOK: Among the challenges facing Thailand this year as chair of Asean is finding ways to tap into the region’s cultural diversity and develop a unified creative industry.

Failure to do so, scholars warn, would damage the bloc’s credibility and hamper its pursuit of Asean 4.0.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha this month launched Asean Cultural Year 2019, announcing a 12-month series of cultural events involving all 10 members of Asean.

The promotional scheme is part of Thailand’s soft power push to boost economic and political solidarity in a region seeking trade leverage with the rest of the world.

“Asean will strengthen our cooperation under the ‘3Mstrategy: mutual trust, mutual respect and mutual benefit’ to achieve our goal of ‘Advancing Partnership for Sustainability’,” Prayut said.

“We will step forward together as we follow the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Develop­ment Goals.

“We will turn our cultural diversity into a creative industry and turn our region into Asean 4.0.”

Representatives of the member states and foreign diplomats attended the launch in Bangkok.

Thailand, led by the Culture Ministry, will coordinate efforts to promote regional culture, including Asean roadshows touring Europe and China. [Read more…]

About the author(s)

Kathy Rowland is the Managing Editor of ArtsEquator.com, a registered charity that she co-founded with Jenny Daneels in 2016. The site is dedicated to supporting and promoting arts criticism with a regional perspective in Southeast Asia. Kathy has worked in the arts for over 25 years, working in the areas of critical writing and arts advocacy, with a special interest in media platforms for the arts. She is the Project Lead for ArtsEquator’s Southeast Asian Arts and Culture Censorship Documentation Project, launched in 2021. She has written extensively on censorship of arts and culture in Malaysia. She was a member of the International Programme Advisory Committee of the 8th World Summit on Arts and Culture, 2019.

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