U Win Tin, Writer Jailed by Myanmar Junta, Dies

Posted on April 22, 2014 | No Comments

TIN-OBIT-1-master675U Win Tin, a journalist, author and poet who became a leading opponent of the military rulers of Myanmar, where he was imprisoned and tortured for 19 years, died on Monday in Yangon, formerly Rangoon. Sources differ on whether he was 84 or 85.

The political party he helped found, the National League for Democracy, announced the death. Reports in the local news media said his kidneys and other organs had failed.

Mr. Win Tin joined eight other political activists to form the National League for Democracy in 1988. Led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her human rights advocacy, the party won a landslide victory in national elections in 1990, but the governing generals refused to cede power.

Even before the elections, the military government placed Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest, where she remained for 15 of the next 21 years. It was widely assumed that the government had been reluctant to jail her because her father had been a hero of the nation’s independence struggle against the British and a founder of the modern Burmese army.

But the government had no compunction about incarcerating Mr. Win Tin, whom Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi and other party leaders called Saya, or “the wise one.” It accused him of being a Communist, a charge he denied.

As described in a memoir, “What’s That? A Human Hell” (2010), his imprisonment, beginning in 1989, was harrowing. He was placed in a tiny cell in what had been a dog kennel and given no bedding. He was fed sparingly and given inadequate medical care. An operation for a strangulated hernia, performed in a dirty prison hospital cell, resulted in the loss of a testicle. He lost most of his teeth in a beating and was then denied dentures. He had two heart attacks in prison. Much of the time he was in solitary confinement. He was deprived of sleep. He was denied visits from the Red Cross. New charges were often added to his sentence.

To keep his sanity, Mr. Win Tin smuggled fragments of brick into his cell and ground them into paste to write poems and philosophy on his cell walls. “I could not bow down to them,” he said in an interview with The New York Times in 2009, the year after his unexpected release.

In one of his most dangerous acts of defiance, he disseminated writing about his plight. In 1996, seven years were added to his sentence after he petitioned the United Nations about conditions in Myanmar’s prisons.

Once a year during his imprisonment Mr. Win Tin’s captors offered him a chance to renounce his political beliefs and resign from his party. Each time, he had the same response: a wordless smile. His stubbornness continued after his release. He refused to stop wearing his blue prison shirt, or a replica of it, until all political prisoners were released.

Relations between the United States and Myanmar improved after Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s release in 2010, with the countries exchanging ambassadors and President Obama visiting in November 2012. Washington also expressed approval that elections were held in 2012 in which the National League for Democracy won 43 of the 44 seats it sought, out of 45.

Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi led the party in that successful campaign and announced in June that she wanted to run for the presidency in 2015. Mr. Win Tin expressed gentle disapproval, saying that the system she would participate in was still corrupt because the constitution imposed by the military remained in effect.

“Some of us would like to push the military into the Bay of Bengal,” he told The Washington Post in 2013. “She only wants to push them into Kandawgyi Lake,” a reference to the heart of Yangon.

U Win Tin was born in Pegu, Burma, which in 1989 became Bago, Myanmar. He was variously reported to have been born in March of 1929 or 1930.

He earned a bachelor’s degree for his work in English literature, modern history and political science from Rangoon (now Yangon) University. He worked for Agence France-Presse and for three years was a consultant to a publishing company in the Netherlands. He was top editor of several Burmese newspapers.

In 1978, the newspaper he was editing, The Hanthawaddy Daily, was shut down for satirizing the local authorities. Military officials suspected that he had advised Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi to begin her civil disobedience campaign in 1988. During his imprisonment, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi said his torturers “wished to force him to admit he was my adviser on political tactics; in other words, that he was my puppet master.”

After his release, Mr. Win Tin wrote a weekly column and broadcast a weekly radio show, using satire to mock the government. He founded a political journal he had conceived in jail with other political prisoners.

Mr. Win Tin, who never married, adopted a daughter who he said had been forced into exile in Australia. He left no other immediate survivors.

After his release, Mr. Win Tin, a man of deep humility, continued to eat sparingly, having one meal early in the day and a bit of fruit in the evening. “I don’t want to be a burden on anyone,” he said.

Text and image reposted from

Artist-activists in Pakistan : drone deaths are ‘NotABugSplat’

Posted on April 9, 2014 | No Comments

NotABugSplat posterInspired by the French photographer JR, who installs hugely magnified portraits of local people in the landscape, a group of artist-activists travelled to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the scene of a US drone attack last November. With them they brought a giant poster of an unnamed child who is said to have lost both her parents and two younger siblings in one of the attacks. Having secured the agreement of local people, they unrolled the picture and fixed it flat on the ground in a field beside a group of houses.

The number of civilians so far killed by drones remains a matter of intense debate, but the worry among campaigners is that this kind of warfare makes killing unpleasantly easy. Operators have compared the experience with playing a computer game, and a Rolling Stone article in 2012 recorded their use of the term “bug splat” to describe the mess on the ground that killing someone leaves behind. The artists have chosen #NotABugSplat as the project’s name.

The intention now is that any drone operator who looks down through their camera and sees this village will have reason to think twice. In their own words, the artists hope the image “will create empathy and introspection amongst drone operators, and will create dialogue amongst policy makers, eventually leading to decisions that will save innocent lives”.

Read the full article here:

New Generation Palestinian Artists at Whitebox Arts Center, NY, Opens 3 April

Posted on April 2, 2014 | No Comments

A New Generation of Palestinian Artists Converges in New York

How Green Was My Valley opens April 3 at Whitebox Art Center and runs through April 27, 2014.


In 2005, ArtPalestine International was formed to promote Palestinian artists in the US, offering them a visible, public platform through exhibitions and programming. As a dispersed and dislocated population, Palestinians navigate myriad challenges, whether it’s deep restrictions on mobility and uncertainty about statehood in the West Bank and Gaza or finding cultural identity in the diaspora.

How Green Was My Valley, an exhibition presented by ArtPalestine International and Whitebox Art Center, highlights the experience of a new generation of Palestinian artists.  Engaging international shifts that have merged contemporary art practices with eco-activism, urbanism, documentary filmmaking, and archival methods, How Green Was My Valley brings together 15 Palestinian artists from the West Bank, Gaza, Israel, and the diaspora for the first time in New York, documenting personal narratives from across the Bank and Gaza or finding cultural identity in the diaspora.

Image credit: Tarek  al Ghoussein, C Series, 2007. Archival digital print . Courtesy of  Taymour Grahne Gallery

See the whole article and a video here :

Salvadorian performance artist faces prison for eating his ballot card : petition launched in his defence

Posted on March 28, 2014 | No Comments


Víctor “Crack” Rodríguez is facing up to six years in prison for a performance piece.   After the general election in El Salvador that split the winning left party from the right by a margin of less than 1% percent, tensions in the country are high, especially amongst the nation’s community of artists, who are rallying to defend Rodríguez, one of San Salvador’s celebrated contemporary artists.

On March 9th, 2014 Rodriguez walked in to a ballot station and announced, “this is an artist action,” then proceeded to eat half of his ballot in front of polling station onlookers before casting the remaining half.  A video of the artist’s performance went viral.  But the situation quickly turned ugly as the Salvadoran legal system reacted, accusing the artist of electoral fraud — a criminal offence punishable by up to six years in prison.

Renowned Salvadoran artist Simon Vega is appalled by the charges:

The fact that many of us feel there is not one political party or candidate in which we can believe or respect yet having the authorities tell us that the vote is “the people’s most powerful weapon,” makes many of us identify with his action. According to the law, “Crack” could be facing from 2 to 6 years in prison for expressing himself in this way, how senseless! We won’t allow it. I think the action is one of the most important, consequent and effective works of contemporary art in Central America’s history, no doubt.

The artists’s collaborators Ernesto Bautista, Mauricio Kabistan, and Melissa Guevara, fellow members of the collective The Fire Theory, have created a petition in order for the art community at large to show their appreciation for the artist’s intention. The artists are hoping to use this petition as evidence to show that Rodríguez is a seasoned artist and that this “call to action” forms part of his practice and is not a crime.

see the whole article here:


Arab Documentary Photography Programme launched: deadline 15 April 2014

Posted on March 18, 2014 | No Comments

AFAC image for enewsletterThe Arab Fund for Art and Culture and the Prince Claus Fund in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in partnership with the Magnum Foundation in New York, USA, are launching the Arab Documentary Photography Programme (ADPP). The ADPP will run from 2014 to 2016, targeting creative documentary photographers in the Arab region. Up to 10 grantees will be selected to receive financial and professional support to complete their proposed photography projects.

The focus of the Arab Documentary Photography Programme is to support compelling non-stereotypical and unconventional visual documentation of important social issues and narratives relevant to the Arab region. The ADPP will also explore ways by which such a body of work will reach out to wider audiences and engage with them in a compelling and impactful ways. Photographers may propose to work in a range of non-fiction narrative styles, from classic documentary photography to more experimental visual storytelling, and may propose to include audio and video elements.

Call closing: 15 April 2014

Please consult the Grant Guidelines before applying. Applications are accepted only through the online application available on the AFAC website

Play on violence to women in India will finally be performed in India

Posted on March 17, 2014 | No Comments

On the night of December 16th 2012 a young woman and her male friend boarded a bus in urban Delhi heading for home. What followed, changed the lives of these two people and countless others forever. Internationally acclaimed playwright and director Yael Farber has created a searing new work that cracks open the cone of silence around women whose lives have been shattered by gender-based violence.

Nirbhaya (Breaking the Silence) will be  performed in Mumbai, New Delhi and Bangalore India from March 17th to 28th, following its 2013 premier at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where it won the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award given to an outstanding Fringe production which raises awareness of human rights, the Scotsman Fringe First and the Herald Angel Award for Outstanding New Play.

“….consciousness-raising theatre of the old school, emphasising the fact that Pandey’s suffering has lifted the veil of silence regarding violence against women in India and beyond. As one performer says, “We can be silent no more.”

With an extraordinary cast and creative team from India, Farber brings us a blistering evocation of that terrible night and the ripples of change it set in motion. Tearing away the shame that keeps the survivors silent Nirbhaya is a voyage into a tapestry of personal testimonies that speaks for a nation and world no longer able to hold the tides of change at bay.

Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish’s books removed from Riyadh International Book Fair

Posted on March 16, 2014 | No Comments

DarwishJust a few days after all the works by Saudi publisher Arab Network for Research and Publishing were removed from the Riyadh International Book Fair for violating the Kingdom’s laws, the works of globally celebrated Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish caused protests and have reportedly been withdrawn from the fair and are not to be sold:

Numerous news sources were reporting the removal of the books, while images and videos circulating on Twitter purported to show the protests against Darwish’s ouevre as well as the packing-up of Darwish’s books.

The order was reportedly given Wednesday to remove Darwish’s books from the fair after protestors objected to alleged blasphemy found in his works. A large crowd gathered, and security reportedly had to be called in. After that, the PVPV ordered the books removed.

This came not long after the Arab Network for Research and Publishing (ANRP) stall was removed from the fair and all the house’s books confiscated. In response to the ANRP seizure, Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Abdulaziz Khoja released a statement that said, in part, “the Kingdom’s security is more important than anything, and trying to destabilize our unity can not be tolerated.”

BY  on 

Text and image reposted from

Kumbia Queers @ Queens Museum – March 6, 6-8PM

Posted on February 27, 2014 | No Comments

foto-kq-7Queens Museum – Open A.I.R. & fD present Kumbia Queers with Que Bajo: Redefining Cumbia, Love and Latinamericanidad

Mar 6 2014, 6:00pm – 8:00pm

An open conversation with the members of Kumbia Queers and Que Bajo regarding cumbia, gender and love in Latin America. Followed by an acoustic set by the Kumbia Queers.

Guests: Kumbia Queers (Argentina-Mexico), Gecko Jones (NYC-Colombia-Puerto Rico), and Uproot Andy (NYC-Canada)

Moderated by: Santo Padre (Mexico-NYC)

Free & Open to the Public

America is a continent marked by migration of bodies, ideas and ideals. It is a region politically divided into countries named and formed by Europeans, mostly man, mostly white or after gold. The vast richness of the continent has attracted people from all over the world for centuries, making it difficult to establish an identity that we can call our own. How does culture shape what we believe, see and hear?

Cumbia began as a slave movement in the Caribbean, and has recently been redefined and reseen by independent musicians across the world. The Kumbia Queers, Gecko Jones and Uprooot Andy are part of this redefinition.

But music is not only music, it implies politics, divisions, and struggles. The Kumbia Queers are the first band in Latin America to produce love songs from girls to girls, and the first openly queer band in the masculine domintated punk-rock scene. This has allowed a redefinition of gender, sexuality, and love as political action.

Through this off track academic presentation, we intend to discuss contemporary Latin American and American issues like womanhood, gender, and slavery.

About the Panelists:

Kumbia Queers are a group of cumbia-punk-rockers that started eight years ago in Argentina. It formed in the underground circles of Argentina, and is formed by independent punk-inspired artists. The group has become an international phenommenon that has led them to growing tours in Europe and the Americas; an edition of their first album in Japan; a documentary film to be released in Chile, and other international presentations in major festivals like Fusion (Germany) and Vive Latino (México). The seven girls that make up Kumbia Queers are also involved in other bands, and independent art movements across the world.

Gecko Jones and Uproot Andy are celebrated internationally for their cumbia production in New York. They are all part of the cultural shift provoked by the redefinition of cumbia. They have hosted Que Bajo for 5 years, a series of parties in New York hosting diverse musicians from Latin America, Africa and other regions of the world.

Santo Padre is a Mexican queerist who develops inter-American projects that allow dialogue, in hopes of democracy and freedom. She is the co-founder of agite y sirva, the traveling videodance film festival in Mexico, and is currently an honorary member of La Pocha Nostra, the performance group founded and directed by Guillermo Gomez Peña.


This program is part of  Queens Museum’s Artists Services program, Open A.I.R. It is made possible by a generous grant from The Scherman Foundation’s Katharine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund. Public Events at the Queens Museum are supported in part by The Kresge Foundation, Surdna Foundation, and The David Rockefeller Fund. Additional support provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Founded in 2008 by Uproot Andy and Geko Jones, the NYC tropical dance party Que Bajo has been influential in changing the sound NYC nightlife. The residents’ now widely known remixes and productions mix the folkloric music of Latin America with modern electronica. Initially intended as an outlet for this new sound (often known as Tropical Bass), Que Bajo has increasingly become a showcase for an ever evolving array of new musical trends emanating from around the globe. Nominated for ‘Best Party’ in the 2010 Paper Magazine Nightlife Awards and named by Timeout NY as NYC’s Top Latin Underground Party, Que Bajo continues to host many of the young artists and DJs on the cutting edge of these new sounds. 2013 saw the launch of Que Bajo Records releasing a steady stream of remixes and club edits that give the now famous party its signature sound.





Shahid Nadeem’s THE ACQUITTAL reading – Friday, February 22

Posted on February 20, 2014 | No Comments

unnamedCastillo Theatre presents a play reading of:

The Acquittal by Shahid Nadeem // reading directed by Dan Friedman

Saturday, February 22 at 5:00pm // Admission is free. Reservation required.
To make your reservation call 212-941-1234 or email

The Castillo Theatre invites you to a reading of The Acquittal by the award-winning playwright, Shahid Nadeem, (translated from Urdu by Tahira Naqvi). The reading is being directed by Castillo’s artistic director Dan Friedman and will be held on Saturday, February 22 at 5:00 p.m.

Shahid Nadeem is considered Pakistan’s foremost playwright and is the executive director of Ajoka Theatre located in Lahore. Ajoka was recognized witt a 2012 Otto Rene Castillo Award for Political Theatre. Nadeem is a socially and politically engaged artist who was imprisoned in 1969, 1970 and 1978 for his writings and opposition to military rule. Nadeem was adopted as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International and while he was in exile he worked for Amnesty as its International Campaign Coordinator in London and as Asia-Pacific Communications Officer in Hong Kong. Nadeem has won numerous theatre and writing awards including President of Pakistan’s Pride of Performance Award, as well as the Gursharan Singh Award for Theatre Commitment in India (2005). Nadeem is currently in the U.S. as a fellow with the National Endowment for Democracy.

The Acquittal, originally written in 1987 while Nadeem was in exile in London, is the story of four women from various social strata who find themselves in the same prison cell under General Zia-ul-Haq’s Hudood Ordinances.

The reading will be followed by a conversation with the playwright

Theatrum Mundi launches “Designing for Free Speech” challenge

Posted on February 11, 2014 | No Comments

Free-speech-TM1Theatrum Mundi, in partnership with the American Institute of Architects, New York, has launched a “Designing for Free Speech” challenge. The challenge asks architects, designers, activists, artists — and anyone interested in imagining new spaces in the city for free expression — to identify public spaces in New York City and propose re-designs that transform them into places that activate the rights enshrined in the First Amendment.

Applicants will propose architectural or performative designs (temporary or permanent) that transform spaces in New York City into places for public “demonstration.” This challenge is about re-imagining and idealizing existing spaces that have the potential for animating the public, especially spaces that are not traditionally considered in this frame. Submissions will be accepted through March 31, 2014.

“New York City has a rich history of creative and political expression,” says Stephen Duncombe, project director and Theatrum Mundi fellow, “but with the privatization of public space, the surveillance of political communications, the commercialization of creative expression, and the virtualization of social gatherings, we want to imagine how we can transform spaces in the city into places for free expression. The Designing for Free Speech challenge offers a forum to do this.”

This open call is free to enter for any interested, interdisciplinary teams at and consists of three parts:

  1. Identification a public space in New York City that could benefit from a more active and interactive social or political engagement.
  2. Design plans for a physical transformation of, or performative intervention within, this space.
  3. Description of how the proposed plan would be implemented.

A jury will select eight featured proposals to be exhibited and be awarded a small sum toward their implementation. The public will select two additional featured proposals via an online voting system.

Theatrum Mundi is a professional network of urbanists and artists in different cities, which is co-directed by Richard Sennett, Saskia Sassen, and Richard Burdett. The collective consists of academics, architects, planners, performing and visual artists, with the aim to stimulate discussion about practices spanning stage and street.

keep looking »

Sign up for our newsletter