Interview with Bart Was Not Here


We spoke with Burmese artist Bart Was Not Here, one year on from the military coup in Myanmar, to discuss how the situation has affected him and his art. 


How has the situation in Myanmar affected you? 

The military coup in Myanmar affected not only me, but decimated everything the was holding the country together…from the economy to people’s way of living. Personally, it’s been a long process of relocating and finding my footing in the big picture with the added experiences.


How are you supporting the movement? 

I started participating in the resistance movement since the first day of the coup and I am still involved in multiple fronts. The ones I can talk about are basically using my art and expertise to reflect what people are going through and using art as a tool to raise funds for the cause. 


Is there a particular day in the last year that impacted you most? 

If I have to point out a recent date, it’s 18th November. Zeyar Thaw, who was a pioneer of Burmese Hip Hop, an elected representative, a prolific leader of the movement, and a friend of mine was arrested for his resilience and leadership. It turned my head upside down for a long while. 


What role do you think art plays in effecting change and making an impact in times like this?

To me, at times like these, art is a tool to comfort the disturbed and disrupt the ones that are in comfort. I use my art to reflect the people’s collective sorrow, anger, and fire.


How has your art changed since February 1st 2021? 

The whole experience impacted my art and practice a lot. Now I’m just working on tying my personal canon and the new experience altogether for a new body of work. It’s hard to put in words but it’ll definitely be reflected in the artworks.


What do you think is the best way for people to help? 

Contribute a voice, a dollar, a pound, a post, a retweet, a gun, a bullet, everything counts. We are dealing with subhuman scums so us, the world, has to come together and put our feet on their neck.


What is your hope for the future of Myanmar? 

I don’t have any other conclusion but to win the war. I can’t function or keep participating in the resistance movement if I have doubts and second thoughts.