This week we caught up with Richie Htet to ask him how his life has changed after Myanmar's military coup.
How has Myanmar’s artistic community responded to the coup?
Their coup has brought out incredible political art from Myanmar artist. There is a sense of defiance and daringness to the work being created. You wouldn't normally see such open depictions of disrespect for the military before the coup.
How has your daily life been impacted?
Everything has been fucked over. Imagine covid but with guns outside your door. I wake up everyday fearing I might get arrested or a friend or a family member. At the moment there are incredibly long queues at the ATM. But I guess on a positive note there is no better “fuck you” then surviving each day.
We understand there have been widespread internet blackouts, can you please tell us how this has affected your ability to communicate with your community in the country but also internationally?
As of now mobile data is still being blocked, though some wifi providers have been graciously allowed to run 24/7. I guess the real fear is not knowing what's happening in real time so we've just relied on texting and calling if we hear anything happening. Just remember not to say anything incriminating.
Looking to the near future what are your plans, do you see yourself staying in Yangon?
All foreseeable plans I had for the future have gone down the drain. I don't believe I can stay and work in Yangon freely and with a clear head. Sooner or later I will get arrested. It is sad to not be able to work in your own country, but I guess others have been through worse.
Are you still creating work during this time?
Yes! I've been working on a future exhibition titled “Everything Will Be OK”. It will be about my reflections on the history of my home country, Myanmar, as well as my own personal family history and how they intertwine.
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ABOUT THE ARTIST:
Richie Htet is a queer Myanmar artist, illustrator and image-maker based in Yangon. Richie was born and raised in Myanmar but spent most of his young adult life studying in England. With a strong emphasis on the human figure, Richie deals with themes of eroticism, identity, and human sexuality, using his own experience growing up in a conservative society.