Since the February 1 military coup in Myanmar, the junta has arrested, charged, or sentenced almost 8,000 people, and killed over 1,300, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners reports. Hundreds of thousands of protestors took to the streets immediately following the coup. Today, that civil disobedience movement continues to organize demonstrations and provide support for government workers who refuse to work for the military—civil servants such as healthcare workers and, as Myanmar Now recently reported, over 8,000 soldiers and police officers who have defected in the last 10 months. 

Artists were among the movement’s very first protesters. On surfaces across the country, filmmakers projected and muralists painted the three-fingered resistance symbol, while poets, cartoonists, and dancers performed their own resistance art. Though many artists remain in hiding, they haven’t stopped creating, and an upcoming exhibit and auction will showcase some of their work. 

myanmar artists auction
An artist in hiding. Artwork featured in Artists Against Tyranny | Courtesy Better Burma

From Thursday, December 9 to Monday, December 13, nonprofits Better Burma and Support the Democracy Movement in Burma will host the three-part Artists Against Tyranny event to raise funds for humanitarian efforts in Myanmar. See the event schedule below. 

Proceeds from donations and sales will go to Better Burma’s humanitarian efforts, including medical relief.

“The organizers involved in this art auction fundraiser have been supporting the people of Myanmar through various initiatives since the coup,” a Better Burma representative told Tricycle. Some of the organizers held a smaller art auction in April 2021 that raised $6,000. “We see this as something we hope will be ongoing,” he added.  

The art comes from Burmese artists who have left the country and those who remain in Myanmar, where they are in hiding for fear of retaliation. Artists who feel comfortable enough to reveal their names will do so, but many of the artists will remain anonymous. 

Artwork featured in Artists Against Tyranny | Courtesy Better Burma

A live virtual event on Saturday night will open with an address from Dr. Sasa, the Myanmar-based resistance leader and UN envoy for the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, the Burmese legislative body who the junta prevented from taking office. Myanmar-based Nyi Thuta, a former captain who joined the resistance movement, will also address the virtual event. Performers outside of Myanmar include singer David Lai, traditional dancer Pa Pa, New York-based queer artist Emi Grate, and poet-activists Thet Su and Me Me Khant. US Senator Cory Booker and Australian member of Parliament Jamie Parker have expressed interest and support for the virtual event and may attend.

Artwork featured in Artists Against Tyranny | Courtesy Better Burma

myanmar artists auction

An artist in hiding. Artwork featured in Artists Against Tyranny | Courtesy Better Burma

Artwork featured in Artists Against Tyranny | Courtesy Better Burma

An artist in hiding. Artwork featured in Artists Against Tyranny | Courtesy Better Burma

Artwork featured in Artists Against Tyranny | Courtesy Better Burma

An artist in hiding. Artwork featured in Artists Against Tyranny | Courtesy Better Burma

An artist in hiding. Artwork featured in Artists Against Tyranny | Courtesy Better Burma

Artwork featured in Artists Against Tyranny | Courtesy Better Burma

Artists Against Tyranny Schedule

From Thursday, December 9 to Saturday, December 11, the Jane Lombard Gallery in New York City will host an in-person exhibit featuring art from Burmese artists. Attendees can purchase the artwork on display. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (All times listed are Eastern Standard Time.)

Starting at 8 p.m. on Saturday, December 11, Better Burma and Support the Democracy Movement in Burma will hold a 48-hour online auction. Get your bids in before the auction ends at 8 p.m. on Monday, December 13. 

At 9 p.m. on Saturday, artists will gather for a two-hour virtual live event

Learn more about the events and how to tune in here on Facebook and here on Better Burma’s website.

Left: “Hanging On” by Moe Kyaw Thant. 30”x30” acrylic on canvas | Jane Lombard Gallery.
Right: “Old Shwedagon” by Moe Kyaw Thant. 24”x24” acrylic on canvas | Jane Lombard Gallery
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