I have not escaped the memories of the victims’ hands asking for food and help in the aftermath of the Nagis cyclone that hit Burma’s delta in 2008.
Curated by Katherine Talcott
I have not escaped the memories of the victims’ hands asking for food and help in the aftermath of the Nagis cyclone that hit Burma’s delta in 2008. When my wife and I were doing relief work with other friends, I saw the many hands of people who were hungry for food, for safety, for kindness, and for others. We continue to see countless hands like these all over the world today. There are countless hungry people who are running and hiding because of civil war and war aggressions, who lost their job because of crises, and who are trying to survive under a dictatorship. They raise their hands with hunger and questions that are important to solve to stay alive. I am an artist who became a baker for our family’s survival. Whenever I am working with bread, I see the hungry hands of the victims we helped in Burma, and I continue to think of other hands that are rising with needs. It is a pleasure to put nourishment in the hands of hungry ones. When I bake, peace becomes an ingredient. One night, I had a chance to rewatch an old James Bond movie. There was a scene about a weapon factory in the film. The faces of the workers in the weapons factory are like the faces of statues–I could not see any happiness or interest. When I thought of my fellow workers, I felt joy knowing I am able able to work with their smiling faces in the bakery. I believe that everybody, especially those who have known hunger, will be happy to view this expanse of bread. I mentally combined the hungry hands that I cannot forget and the bread that I have enjoyed baking over the years to make this artwork because I want to bring a little bit of happiness to people. Imagine bombs instead of bread in these hands. Would you still find joy in them?
Than Htay Maung was born in 1958 in Pathien, Burma. He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife Khet Mar, City of Asylum/Pittsburgh’s writer-in-residence. His installation work, created out of found materials, is politically charged commentary on news and its veracity and dissemination to the public. Whether making an installation about satellite news distribution in Burma or sending SOS bottles filled with commentary down the Irrawaddy River, Than Htay Maung’s work always asks the viewer to question what he or she believes to be the truth