This past weekend I went to the Secretariat to see the ground breaking art exhibit “Where the Land & Water End” by German conceptual artist Wolfgang Laib. I say groundbreaking, not to refer to the art installations, stunning though they are, rather the fact that this is the first time that permission has been granted to use the Secretariat for something like this.
I wrote a little about the history of the Secretariat here, one of the most important buildings in Yangon owing to the fact it was where General Aung San & his cabinet were gunned down in cold blood in 1947, as they attended a shadow cabinet meeting looking at how to successfully achieve independence for Myanmar. Previously, access has only been allowed to the Secretariat once a year on July 19th, as part of the Martyrs day commemorations where their sacrifice is remembered, so it is a huge feat to successfully get the necessary permissions to display this exhibit there, credit to which goes to the Goethe institute who must have worked long and hard to do so.
Wolfgang Laib uses natural elements such as pollen, that he has been collecting from the countryside surrounding his south german home since the 1990’s, milk, marble and rice, all of which are chosen to reflect purity. Whilst the installation using pollen was only left in place for 2 days in order to stop it being damaged by the hot, humid surroundings of the Secretariat (about as far from an air-conditioned art gallery as you can get) not to mention the pigeons and rats that also inhabit the space, there are still a number of large works of art still in place, as well as smaller exhibits on the surrounding walls.
The exhibition is open daily, from 10am-5pm, until February 4th and I would wholeheartedly encourage anyone in Yangon during these dates to visit. Entry is free of charge and the Secretariat is accessed by the East gates.