TUN WIN AUNG & WAH NU
(b. 1975 & 1977, Myanmar)
Wah Nu was born in 1977 in Yangon, Myanmar, and Tun Win Aung was born in 1975 in Ywalut, Myanmar. Both artists graduated from the University of Culture, Yangon, in 1998, Wah Nu with a BA in music, Tun Win Aung with a BA in sculpture. After completing her studies, Wah Nu turned to painting and video, while Tun Win Aung extended his practice to performance, multimedia work, and painting. He has also created several site-specific outdoor installations, often involving Myanmar’s landscape. In addition to working individually, this husband and wife also collaborate with one another, addressing elements of historical and contemporary culture, established custom and innovative practice. They approach the natural and built environments of their native country with an ecological sensitivity motivated by animistic Buddhist beliefs. A sensuous exploration of color and light, pursued across different mediums, lends much of their work a dreamlike atmosphere.
Wah Nu and Tun Win Aung’s series of large color photographs Blurring the Boundaries (2007–09) portrays models of proposed exhibitions. Built in the artists’ studio using props, maquettes, and miniature artworks, these constructions playfully confuse original and copy, reality and fiction, event and document, representing a spirited response to a local scarcity of resources and popular suspicion of contemporary art. Exploiting the illusionist stagecraft of the scale modeler, the images are at once fully realized and propositional. In 2009, Wah Nu and Tun Win Aung initiated the project 1000 Pieces (of White), gathering and producing objects and images to assemble a portrait of their shared life as partners and collaborators. Interweaving public and private, personal anecdote and pop cultural appropriation, this unique archive attests to the poetry of the everyday. In addition to found and original materials, the artists have occasionally incorporated drawings and sketches by artist friends, and even by their own daughter, into the ongoing work. They selectively whitewash the surfaces to visually link the series’ disparate elements. The gesture isolates or obscures certain details, evoking the passage of time and the fading of memory. Some components address history and politics; others appear more whimsical and intimate. Ultimately, 1000 Pieces (of White) captures the intersection of shared and individual histories, the transformation of public information into private knowledge.
In 2011, Wah Nu and Tun Win Aung’s collaborative work was shown in solo presentations at Art-U room, Tokyo, and at Meulensteen Project Space, New York. Individually, Wah Nu has had solo exhibitions at Lokanat Galleries, Yangon, Myanmar (2004), and Art-U room (2005 and 2008). She participated in notable group exhibitions including the 3rd Fukuoka Asian Art Triennial, Japan (2005); Another Seven Artists, Ŧ Alternative Space and Axis Alternative Space, Yangon (2007 and 2008); and Inner Voices, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan (2011). Tun Win Aung has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Heaven Art Gallery, Yangon (1998), and Lokanat Galleries (1999 and 2001). He participated in such group exhibitions as the 2nd Fukuoka Asian Art Triennial (2002) and In Search of Light: Modern and Contemporary Art from Myanmar, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (2006). Along with Wah Nu, he participated in the 1st and 2nd Thuyedan Event, presenting performance and public art projects in artist-organizer Aung Ko’s hometown of Pyay, Myanmar. Their collaborative work has been featured in the 11th Asian Art Biennial, Dhaka, Bangladesh (2004); 6th Asia Pacific Triennial, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia (2009–10);Videozone V, Centre for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv (2010); plAy: Art from Myanmar Today, Osage Gallery, Singapore (2010); Video, an Art, a History, 1965–2010, Singapore Art Museum (2011); Meta-question: Back to the Museum Per Se, 4th Guangzhou Triennial, China (2011); and No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and the Asia Society Hong Kong Center. Wah Nu and Tun Win Aung live and work in Yangon.