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The Torn First Pages (2004-08)
Installation: 19 back projections on 19 sheets of paper, digital video, colour, black and white, sound, loop,
artist books, Burmese books and magazines

The Torn First Pages is a 19-channel video installation in three parts. Presented in honour of the Burmese bookshop owner Ko Than Htay, who was imprisoned for ‘tearing out the first page’ of all books and journals that he sold and which contained ideological slogans from the military regime. The Torn First Pages is also an ode to the thousands engaged in the struggle for democracy in Burma. The films directly, elliptically and metaphorically encounter resistance and the struggle for a democratic society, contemporary forms of non-violence, political exile, memory and dislocation. part I Six Projections The Face | 4 min 35 sec | Sound Thet Win Aung (a) | 4 min 35 sec | Silent Thet Win Aung (b) | 4 min 35 sec | Silent Ma Win Maw Oo | 4 min 35 sec | Silent The Bodhi Tree | 7 min 4 sec | Sound Somewhere in May | 38 min | Sound The Face: We know what Pinochet looks like, we know what Idi Amin looked like, but what does the Burmese dictator General Than Shwe look like? Thet Win Aung (a & b): How to remember you Thet? A lifetime and 59 years in a single moment. Ma Win Maw Oo: And how to remember you Win Ma and that day in 1988? The Bodhi Tree: Sitt Nyein Aye, a well-known Burmese dissident painter escaped from Burma after the military crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in August 1988. While living in exile in New Delhi, he practised his art in a small studio room. Somewhere in May lies within the intersection of freedom and claustrophobia, democracy and its simulation, national projects and the individual’s relationship with the politics of today. In the normalcy of exile, two events occur on the same day in the city of Oslo. The 17th of May is celebrated as Norwegian National Day, and in 2004 it was also the day the military dictatorship began a National Convention for Democracy in Burma.Through the ‘Democratic Voice of Burma’ (DVB), a small radio station in Oslo, the Burmese resistance reports on this sham convention as it broadcasts news that is secretly heard by thousands within Burma. part II Seven projections | 24 min 53 sec | Sound To be able to see the multiple dimensions of the passage of time through a single moment creates the greatest probability of understanding, both within and what lies in the outside world. With seven projections part II of The Torn First Pages begins with Burmese activists in exile in the city of Fort Wayne, USA before travelling with a Burmese activist across the United States. part III Six projections | 23 min 26 sec | 3 Silent and 3 with Sound To keep on collecting evidence when confronted with continuous brutality is only possible when there is hope for a better future. In six projections, part III of The Torn First Pages presents the ‘archival’ not only as evidence but as a ‘continuous process’ of the gathering and display of evidence, of the need to record and remind and of the incredible effort of the Burmese resistance to present this archive in an open space on the internet and in privately circulated cd’s for all to see. The first three projections within part III distort the archive to create the laughing triptych of General Ne Win, the first Burmese dictator along with his coterie. The second three projections within part III are presented in honour of and with respectful gratitude to, the work of several activists and photographers, known and anonymous, professionals and amateurs, inside and outside Burma, who have with great risk and determination documented the recent history of the Burmese people and the democracy movement. These are images/short films/unedited secretly filmed footage presented as they are made available to the public.

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