Myanmar is one of the ethnically most diverse countries in the world. Since independence, the country has experienced a complex set of conflicts. These represent a significant challenge on the way towards peace, development and democracy: The political space is still very limited and mistrust is widespread.
Project NameOpen History - Arts for Peace
Project Phase2019 to 2021
FundingThis project is financed by ifa/Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen on behalf of the Federal Foreign Office during 2019 and by own funds/other donations.
Thematic focusVoice, Inclusion & Cohesion
Our project 'Open History – Arts for Peace' organises community-based 'Open History Exhibitions' in different regions and states of the country.
Together with our partner organization, the 'Pansodan Gallery', we provide space for dialogue with the aim to strengthen identity and foster peaceful co-existence. Through this, women, men and youth from different ethnic and social backgrounds exchange about their history, reflect about how to construct a peaceful future for Myanmar and thus, support peace building from the ground. The different actors learn about the good practices and attitudes of various social and ethnic groups on how to peacefully coexist, and recognize the power of arts for conflict transformation and social cohesion.
Pansodan Gallery curates 2-3 photo exhibitions per year with historic pictures that the local population has contributed. Additionally, Pansodan organises photo and video contests to engage the youth in the project. The documentation material from the exhibitions is made publicly accessible in a 'Virtual Museum', so that everybody can learn about the history and similarities of the different ethnic groups.
The project is financed by ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) on behalf of the German Federal Foreign Office as well as by own funds. After a successful first phase of the Open History project in 2019, Helvetas received follow-up funding from ifa / the Federal Foreign Office for the implementation of a second phase from 2020 until 2021.
Already in 2019, a total of around 4,000 people visited the exhibitions in the two South-Eastern cities Hpa-An and Dawei. Side events of the exhibitions included poetry and literature reading, panel discussions, guided tours for general visitors and students, and performance of traditional music and dance.
In the second run of the project until 2021, based on the experiences and lessons learned of the first phase of the project, a total of four more exhibitions, accompanied by photo and video contests will take place in the cities of Hakha, Pahtein, Meikhtila, Myitkyina. In Yangon, Myanmar’s capital, two additional exhibitions will be held, for example on the occasion of the 100th birthday of the Yangon University.
Through regional exchange and training on dialogue facilitation, the project furthermore aims to strengthen the local artist network and facilitate the artists to become actors of change and thus contribute to peacebuilding.
Further information about ifa can be found here. Additional information on the Open History Exhibition in Hpa An, the Open History Facebook Page and the Helvetas Myanmar Facebook Page is also available.
1st Virtual Exhibition on 14th - 18th of October 2020:
- Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the planned exhibition in Pathein was reorganized to take place in a virtual format. The videos were produced for the same target group that would have visited the actual exhibition on site (videos with original audio without translation to English) -
The exhibition was published in different sessions. It featured old photos from Pathein and its famous people, Thanakha Festival videos, Poem Recitation and it will show the pictures and videos of the photo as well as documentary contest winners and much more!