Photographers with a Chinese background have worked in Myanmar for at least 70 years. The numbers certainly increased after Myanmar’s independence in 1948. The absence of foreign-run studios, which were mostly abandoned before the war broke out, left a vacuum that was gradually filled with Burmese and Chinese photographers.
The Chinese or Sino-Burmese photographers had the great advantage of being able to access published information and technology in the Chinese language. In Burmese there were no such materials available and photographers were forced to access English information. One of Yangon’s most active studios among the ethnic Chinese population was Central Studio (it closed in the 90s).
The Myanmar Photo Archive (MPA) was initiated in 2013 by Lukas Birk, based on the fundamental idea of creating an archive dedicated to Myanmar photographers. The collection now comprises approximately 20,000 photographs, negatives and photographic objects from 1890 to 1995. Through exhibitions, an online presence, and a publication program, MPA is trying to spread awareness of Myanmar’s rich photographic culture, both locally and internationally.
Photography Friday is a regular feature from Shanghaiist in association with Photography of China, Marine Cabos’s fantastic platform about photography and photographers in China.