A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Artist’s Statement: This piece, Myanmar’s Lady of Genocide, has two distinct elements. One is a multi-media visual effort to portray the genocidal conditions imposed upon Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim population and the second is a narrative account of the atrocities spanning decades. The country’s glamorous and eloquent democracy activist, Ms. Aung Sang Suu Kyi, is now the State Counsellor. Because she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her valorous activism to free her country from the clutches of the brutal junta that dominated the country for decades, many expected her to halt the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya. However, she has never imagined Rohingya as citizens of a Myanmar state which accepts them as a legitimate ethnic group. Disappointingly, she has done little to undermine Burman ethnic supremacy or the violent turn in Buddhist clerical politics, both of which are the taproots of the country’s effort to extirpate the Rohingya in the country. There is no evidence that she rejects either.
The foundation of the visual element is a pastiche of pages from her various books narrating her decades-long struggle for democracy which are matted upon a canvas, painted red. At the top of the piece is a collage of military and Buddhist clergy who are engaged in ethnically cleansing the country of the Rohingya. They are upside down to reflect their inverted morality. At the bottom of the piece is a collage of the Rohingya depicting their various precarities. The only color element is a picture of a Rohingya man, with an upturned face, begging for help. In the middle of the canvas is a contour sketch of Ms. Suu Kyi in which I have tried to destabilize her image as alluring. Scattered throughout the piece are images of soldiers and weapons reflecting the ongoing assault against these hapless peoples as well as barbed wire to reflect the ghettoization of Rohingya living in Myanmar.
The accompanying narrative piece sets up a conversation between what the world expected of her since winning the Nobel Peace Prize and what she has done with respect to the Rohingya: remained complicit in this brutally comprehensive ethnic cleansing. The two sides set up a chronological dialogue of her rise to power and her concomitantly hardened stance against these people.
C. Christine Fair is a professor within the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She studies political and military events of South Asia and travels extensively throughout Asia and the Middle East. Her books include In Their Own Words: Understanding the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (OUP 2019); Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War (OUP, 2014); and Cuisines of the Axis of Evil and Other Irritating States (Globe Pequot, 2008). She has published creative pieces in The Bark, The Dime Show Review, Clementine Unbound, Awakenings, Fifty Word Stories, The Drabble, Sandy River Review, Sonder Midwest, Black Horse Magazine, Furious Gazelle, Hyptertext, Barzakh Magazine and Bluntly Magazine among others. Her visual poetry has appeared in Awakenings, pulpMAG and several forthcoming pieces in Abstract: Contemporary Expressions, The Indianapolis Review, Typehouse Literary Magazine and PCC Inscape Magazine.
Dr. Fair is famous for causing trouble in multiple languages.
Copyright 2020 C. Christine Fair. All rights reserved.