The Burma Organic Film Project

Yangon 2016

This image was shot on Fujicolor medium format film with a Holga. December 2016, Yangon, Myanmar.

I hope to have enough material to release a photobook on Burma (Myanmar) this winter

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The first ride to Mt Tabor after returning from France

As I begin my climb I can’t but stop to take a snap or two of these magnificent colors, especially the fresh green – still fighting back the inevitable winter.
When I reach the top… Did you know that Mark Rothko grew up in Portland Oregon? Perhaps it’s this Portland citiscapes, the horizontal lines of different colors that inspired his famous work.
I should start a new blog, seriously. “People Shooting Film Around the World”.  This young lady was kind enough to allow me to photograph her Polaroid camera. It looked new so I wondered where one would buy film packs since the Polaroid camera stopped making them years ago. (Hint: the IMPOSSIBLE project)
I ride my bike all year round for all purposes. Which includes shopping. Here’s the character of the day.
I see this cute bike and decide to take picture. As some customes walk in (notice the shoe) I realize it’s a Marijuana Store. America is an amazing country. What you can do freely and openly in Oregon, like buy and smoke pot, even grow it, may land you in jail in many other states.
The fall colors of Oregon are perhaps the best in the world

Portland Oregon, January 2017

“Do not despise your own place and hour. Every place is under the stars, every place is the centre of the world.”

— John Burroughs

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Forget the world. And so command the world.
—Rumi

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Be happy for no reason, like a child. If you are happy for a reason, you’re in trouble, because that reason can be taken from you. — Deepak Chopra

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Le centre du temps, le centre de l’univers

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Burmese Chronicles, continued

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Burma is an open society. Most of life happens in plain view. There is an overwhelming sense of connectedness. Everybody’s acts are exposed.

burma-01Yangon cats are always lean. Unlike the monks.

chaosTraffic is the worst part of Yangon. The easiest way to get around the city is by taxi. They are everywhere.  The destructive effect of the car – as a transportation concept – is visible in every country but Burma is one of the worst examples. Not just the ecology but the destruction of the city as a communal form of living.

In fact, what the car does is turns every city to an anti-city. (The city as the idea of “Agora” in the  Antiquity.)  Most of us were born in anti-cities so we don’t know any better. But it pains me to see the destruction of a living Agora that’s going on right in front of you.

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The massive invasion of cars is rapidly destroying both the ecology and the human connection. The traditional velo-taxis are still popular but they are assaulted by these road monsters.

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People are poor but everyone seems to own a massive Japanese SUV. It certainly feels like Japan dumps its used cars here.

Japanese cars are made for driving on the left. The Burmese drive on the right. The chaos is unbelievable.

Most of Yangon consists of narrow streets with no sidewalks.  Every driver beeps when they approach you. The locals don’t seem to car  but it drives westerners crazy!

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When it’s lunchtime, everybody goes out (or inside an air-con mall – depending on one’s income.)

Street dogs appear absolutely comfortable. Nobody minds them and there’s plenty of food. I heard rumors  that the government poisons them.

 

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Lunch is a communal ritual thousands of people partake daily.

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All business is done in cash. The Myanmar currency is called Kyat (pronounced chut). She keeps the bills in a plastic bag. Some people carry massive wads of cash.

It’s still a very cheap country. But the times are a-changing. Next year it would probably be a different country. More “advanced” in the Western sense. More banks, Burger Kings, ATMs, and alas even more cars.

Yangon: the ultimate time machine

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You will see glimpses of modern brands and lots of new cars from Japan but the overall feel of the city is like you just landed into Orwell’s Burmese Chronicles. (Orwell spent a few years in Yangon as a police chief.)

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Buddhist monks are the most common persons on the street. These are girls (pink robes.)
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The male garb is maroon.

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Here’s a group of well-off Burmese in the new shopping area. Regardless of age and class, most men wear Longyi.

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The average Burmese live in slums with all their belongings in the open view. There are lots of raw areas in Yangon. It’s like being transported 200 years back, to the time of Anglo-Burmese wars.

I photographed the Yangon grit  with a film Leica in black and white. (This is another project.)
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Burma (Myanmar) is the easiest country to photograph. People are overwhelmingly friendly. They don’t ask money for it (like they do in some other poor countries.)

And they won’t make a face and demand to delete the picture like the French and Moroccans practice.

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Woodcarving is huge in Yangon. The reason is that all these elaborate decorations that you see on the local monasteries (and there is a monastery on every street) are made of wood and painted. As they decay fairly quickly replacements are ordered.

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Jade jewelry and Burmese fabrics are also popular.

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It seems like kids take care of other kids. All life goes in the open street. Unlike Latin America, the Burmese poverty does not lead to crime and violence. Go figure.

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With respect, you can approach anybody with your camera. People show dignity and friendliness.

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The Shwedagon pagoda behind the trees and the monasteries around it. The pagoda is gilded, but most of the monastery decorations are carved wood, painted (usually) or plated with gold.

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This young man is finalizing a large snake that needs to be painted.

Burma is becoming a new Cuba for street photography

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Arriving at the Yangon airport, a visa is required
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The Yangon Zoo
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The most amazing boardwalk in the world. It covers an entire lake!

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The local fashions are modest. No skin.

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These Westerners look at Burma with skepticism. Like, these 'barbarians' paint their faces?

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The face paint is made from the Thanaka tree. Every woman has a different pattern. Here
s a link to more on this tradition: https://www.exoticvoyages.com/travel-blog/why-do-burmese-women-have-white-faces/

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The Nazi design is common. Perhaps because it looks like the Buddhist swastika?