Can art bring the Secretariat building back to the people of Yangon?

Yangon’s Secretariat building might be the most important building in Myanmar.

It was built over 100 years ago as the headquarters of British colonial rule. It was where General Aung San, Myanmar’s national hero, was assassinated along with eight of his comrades in 1947. It hosted the ceremony initiating Burma’s independence in 1948. And it was the site of Burma’s first independent parliament.

But in 2005, the Secretariat was abandoned, and the government of Myanmar moved to the newly-built Naypyidaw. Its gates were shut, and the people of Yangon lost access to a central piece of their heritage.

The Secretariat’s future grew dimmer in 2012, when a company run by a military family was granted a lease to the building. The company initially pledged to maintain the building for the public, but later faced public backlash after hosting a private party in the Secretariat for a family member.

Then, on July 19, 2014 – the anniversary of Aung San’s death known as Martyrs’ Day – the Secretariat was unexpectedly opened to the public. Parts of the building were also opened on Martyrs’ Day each year since.

The Secretariat has never been permanently repurposed for the benefit of the people. But there are signs of this changing. The greatest of which came on January 14, when a wing of the building was set up to display the art of renowned artist Wolfgang Laib in an exhibition hosted by the Goethe Institut.

Laib is considered one of the most influential visual artists alive today. His use of natural, perishable materials hints at the delicacy of Myanmar’s physical heritage and the need to preserve, honor and cherish it.

“Where the Land and Water End” is the first public art exhibition hosted at the Secretariat, and the people of Yangon hope it will not be the last.

Leave a Reply

MORE FROM Art Coco

SUBSCRIBE TO COCONUTS TV

BRANDED VIDEOS

0.00

With so many places to shop in Bangkok, why Siam?

Thailand is known for beaches, temples, spicy food, shopping and for having the most Instagrammed spot in the world at...

BRANDED VIDEOS
3:09

Studio Hive | Thailand gamers build passion into business

When Skan Srisuwan and Kan Supabanpot were growing up they didn’t know that gaming could be a career. They just...

BRANDED VIDEOS

DOCUMENTARIES

0.00

Cambodian MMA Warrior Chan Heng | Fighting For His Family

Cambodian warrior Chan Heng fights to improve the lot of his family.

DOCUMENTARIES
0.00

The Queen of Bollywood Veggies in Singapore

Ivy Singh is an eccentric Singaporean grand dame who lives on one of the last remaining working farms in Singapore....

DOCUMENTARIES, INTERVIEWS
5:01

Neon Lights electrifies 15,000 music fans in Singapore | Coconuts TV

Ruffians and beautiful people flocked to Singapore’s Fort Canning Park to witness two muddy days of peace and...

DOCUMENTARIES
3:28

Gollum of Lan Kwai Fong | Hong Kong’s most precious nightlife celebrity | Coconuts TV

If you’re a regular down Lan Kwai Fong (Hong Kong’s biggest nightlife distric) on the weekends, you’ll no...

DOCUMENTARIES
4:24

Li Zhensheng | Secret Witness to Cultural Revolution

Chinese photographer Li Zhensheng witnessed China’s Cultural Revolution as a photographer for a state propaganda...

DOCUMENTARIES
4:31

The Man Who Sleeps In A Volcano | Kawah Ijen sulfur mine in Indonesia

READ THE FULL MULTIMEDIA FEATURE ON COCONUTS JAKARTA:...

DOCUMENTARIES
3:04

Myanmar fight club teaches women self-defense

Judo chop! In the face of street harassment, a former Myanmar beauty queen is empowering women to defend themselves...

DOCUMENTARIES, NEWS
3:51

Bangkok’s Swing Scene

Join Coconuts TV as we go deep into Bangkok’s Chinatown to attend a rip-roaring swing dance party and meet the wacky...

DOCUMENTARIES, NEWS
3:41

Hell’s Garden | Chiang Mai monk creates most disturbing depiction of Naraka

A soft-spoken monk from Chiang Mai has created quite possibly the most disturbing depiction of Buddhist Hell...

DOCUMENTARIES
10:06

Double Barrel | Duterte’s Drug War | Episode 3

In the last episode of our documentary on the Philippines Drug War, we hear from: 1. A newspaper crime photographer who...

DOCUMENTARIES, DOUBLE BARREL: DUTERTE'S DRUG WAR

DOUBLE BARREL: DUTERTE'S DRUG WAR

FOOD

0:55

Bangkok goes nuts for Pablo cheese tarts | Coconuts TV

Citizens are Bangkok are lining up for hours for the newest food craze: Pablo cheese tarts from Osaka. SUBSCRIBE:...

FOOD
1:02

Egg Waffles | Hong Kong’s delicious street snack

Egg waffles are quite possible Hong Kong’s most delicious street snack! See how they’re made at local...

FOOD
2:07

Little Creatures Kennedy Town | Hong Kong’s newest craft brew

Watch as we go behind the scenes at Hong Kong’s newest brewery and restaurant, Little Creatures Kennedy Town. We...

FOOD
0:47

How to make Tom Kha Gai: Yum Ep. 3

Succulent pieces of chicken simmer in a rich coconut milk broth with hints of chili and lime. Oh yes, Tom Kha Gai is...

FOOD

NEWS

0.00

Karen community learns Thai in karaoke class

The adults and children of Khanajue Kee, a village at the Thailand-Myanmar border, occasionally gather in the afternoon...

NEWS
2:39

Phnom Penh’s Postmodern Slum: The White Building

Phnom Penh’s the White Building, built in 1963, was envisioned as modern apartment complex for Cambodia’s...

NEWS
4:21

Marcos burial protested in Metro Manila

Coconuts TV captured the scene in the streets of Metro Manila on Nov. 18 when protests erupted over the sneak...

NEWS
3:17

Thailand’s King Bhumibol funeral procession vox pop

On Oct. 14, 2016, hundreds of thousands of Thais lined the streets of Bangkok to witness the funeral procession of King...

NEWS

QUESTIONS

1:56

What’s the worst swear word in your language? | Questions Episode 8

Asking young locals in the 8 cities we operate, Bangkok, Manila, Singapore, Hong Kong, KL, Jakarta, Bali, and Yangon --...

QUESTIONS

SERIES

TRAVEL

6:53

Understanding Rodrigo Duterte: Interview with Novelist F. Sionil Jose

Coconuts TV talks to F. Sionil Jose, Philippine National Artist for Literature, about Rodrigo Duterte and his war...

TRAVEL, NEWS