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Artists in Myanmar take part in art fest marking May 18 Democratic Uprising

(May 18 Democratization Movement Art Festival)
(May 18 Democratization Movement Art Festival)
The May 18 Democratization Movement Art Festival kicked off in Gwangju on Saturday, commemorating the 41st anniversary of the Gwangju Democratic Uprising.

With the slogan “Spreading peace through solidarity,” the festival aims to connect the historical significance of the past with the need for future engagement and action.

An art wall has been installed at May 18 Democracy Square, located within the Asia Culture Center in Gwangju. Nine other joint exhibitions and artists’ workshops are going on at venues throughout the city. Among them are Chonnam National University, Lee Kang-ha Art Museum, local art galleries and Herstory, an exhibition center run by the Gwangju Foundation for Women and Family. 

Notable at this year’s festival is the participation of artists in Myanmar. “The process wasn’t easy even after some five artists were expected to join the festival. But we ended up with 17 artists participating,” said Kim Hwa-soon, director of the Association of Korean National Fine Artists in Gwangju, which organized the festival, told The Korea Herald. “Upon receiving the art pieces as online files, we printed the works in acrylic form. The artists’ names are kept anonymous at the gallery to ensure their safety,” she said.
“Never Give Up” by anonymous artist from Myanmar (May 18 Democratization Movement Art Festival)
“Never Give Up” by anonymous artist from Myanmar (May 18 Democratization Movement Art Festival)
“Our Future” by anonymous artist from Myanmar (May 18 Democratization Movement Art Festival)
“Our Future” by anonymous artist from Myanmar (May 18 Democratization Movement Art Festival)
While keeping in touch with the artists in Myanmar through different groups and preparing for the art festival, Kim was touched by the way the participating artists fought for democratization during the day and created art by night.

“We wanted to express how the citizens of Gwangju today deeply empathize with Myanmar’s democratic uprising and the subsequent struggles. We went through a similar path once, standing at the center of the movement, and such moments in history will ultimately end with victory for the citizens,” Kim added.

In addition to the art festival, various related events are going on throughout the city in May. A participatory art program called “People Become Paths” is being held at the May 18th National Cemetery in Mangwol-dong. An “Artists’ Relay Concert,” in which eight artists participating in this year’s festival share the stories behind their works, is set for Wednesday at May 18 Democracy Square.

The May 18 Democratization Movement Art Festival runs through the end of May.

By Kim Hae-yeon (hykim@heraldcorp.com)
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