Moe Satt

May 23, 2017

Moe Satt

"Hands Around in  Yangon, 2012


Shown as part of exhibition:

"Political Acts: Pioneers of Performance Art in Southeast Asia"

Victorian Arts Centre


According to Dr Steven Tonkin, who writes in the book accompanying the exhibition, "Political Acts: Pioneers of Performance Art in Southeast Asia", Moe Satt has "begun to transform the contemporary art scene in Myanmar" (formerly Burma). He is self taught and primarily uses his body, although now he is also including in his practice the use of photography, film and installations.


It says he his "not an overtly political artist" but in the videos I've watched online of his performances, some do seem quite political. They also have an air of the Shaman as artist riding through them. The feeling state with which he enacts his tasks and interacts with the audience, including them, often in the dramatic play that unfolds. In one video the audience are throwing objects at him, in another they partake in sticking balls on to not only his head, but on to themselves as well and in another video, he silently "gives" hand movements to the audience, a different one for each person. Tonkin divulges that the latter performance, titled "F 'n' F (Face and Fingers)" is an exploration of "108 (a sacred number in cosmology) choreographed combinations of hand and facial gestures could convey different meanings to the audience". 


I find the video shown in the exhibition more enthralling than the performances. Also, focussing on hands, it cuts gently between quite lengthy shots of various people using their hands in everyday life in Yangon (screenshots above). Tonkin says that "Making meaning is reflexively placed upon the viewer". The meaning I make of it, is that the artist is appreciating and wanting to share the simple beauty of the hands, their dexterity, the mutual understanding we all have of the reliance we have on our hands, the incredible skills with which the local people have developed with their hands and perhaps we can even extend this to say that the hands of the artist have been projected on to the artistry he sees his community holding in their own - placing everyone as artists. 


And it is this last point, that links me and my art making in, hooks me in to this work. The appreciation of art as being in us all and all around us. That the artists is not the keeper of art, but merely the person who reminds us of what is already there.



Screenshots from video at "Political Acts: Pioneers of Performance Art in Southeast Asia"  Victorian Arts Centre

Book from the above exhibition and writing by the curator, Dr Steven Tonkin, page 12.

Performance referred to, seen on Youtube: Moe Satt`s Performance Art_F n` F ( Face and Fingers)



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