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Folk Tales: once upon a time there was a country

Osaka kansai International Art Festival, 2023

Concept: This art project aims to relive and exchange folktales that we remember from our childhood. Everyone loved the folktales since their childhood, and I believe that the stories teach us to cultivate humanity and goodwill to rethink our world view.


“Folktales are international communication like diplomatic work,” Gandhi of India once said. Folktale is a type of traditional story orally passed through the generations to explain about the world and feature morals or lessons by the wiseman. Goodness is always reward- ed; heroes and heroines live happily ever after while evil is punished, and justice prevails in the end. Usually, folktales are not considered to be true, but they mirror the values of culture and society which they came from. Folktales usually take place long ago in faraway somewhere and it can be visible the somebody’s spirit and wills.

Project is based on a book of Burmese folktales written by Burmese literary scholar “Maung Htin Aung”, published in Oxford University in 1948.


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The anthropologist’s gaze: These ethnographic records, according to the political and ad- ministrative sense of the colonial period taken by British scholars, the identification of char- acteristics such as names, places, languages, culture and behaviors. From the viewer’s gaze, these photos may initially seeing like historical heritage, but later I realized that the photo- graph was saying something else (an invisible language). These visual languages allow me to get a feel the original photographer’s stand points. Therefore, when creating this art project, I just blurred the original photographer’s vision it may be too obscure to grasp, and we may say (in other words) overlapping of interest to the impact of colonial history.

I used photography in this art project may not be fully cross-examined anthropologist’s gaze, but there may be similarities in concept or outcomes. Based on the personal research, this project “The Shadow: Portraits of Disappeared”has three main parts; The Kingdom, The Strangers and The Death. In each part has different visuals and narrations according by the picture’s sources.


The “The Kingdom”, I recaps the history of the origin of Myanmar. It’s a portrait of a woman based on historical stories from The glass palace book (about the Kings lives). She is a beautiful girl named Be’dari, born to a father (human) and a deer mother. She is the first mother of Burmese kingdom according to that book.

“The Strangers” by the history and folk tales, I have tried to collect photos from the ethnic minority portraits and the folktales, and I took out the pictures as evidence and make them re-newing with the natural phenomena. In each of time and places, peoples from the photos may be strangers but now we can see them walking together in-front.

The Death is a poetic approach, with the cast-shadow (Silhouette), The concept is taken from a poem by Rabindranath Tagore who founded the art school for anti-colonization. His poem assumes that “Death like Rahu casts shadows only but cannot sap life’s divine ambrosia en- trapped by this material world this i know for certain”. According to this aesthetic, people died, but the shadows they left behind remained embedded in the nature like water, soil, trees, and rocks. This art project brings back those submerged shadows. According to the method, the original photo is duplicated and filled with natural terrain images. Multiply the photo with another can effect the mixing of historical knowledges.

The basic concept of this art project is “Consciousness of Realities”. A self-exploration on the realities of various sources, and a searching identity of a country. As an artistic research, method may vary and different ways, but it would be reliable as anthropologist’s gaze.

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