The pilot project will set out to investigate the remaining negative archives and collections by local Burmese photographers. The investigation will take place primarily in Yangon but also in Mandalay and Mawlamyine. A detailed report on remaining negative archives and their condition, as well as the possibility to digitise and secure them, will be made and if possible, test digitisation will be conducted in all three cities. One such archive has been identified already in Yangon.
In western archives late 19th century photography from Burma is primarily by foreigners. These negative archives by local photographers would offer one of the only visual archives of its kind and offer not only valuable insight for scholars but future generations of Burmese people as the material provides a unique insight into local life in Myanmar. These images are not foreign obsevations, they are (especially due to the isolation of Myanmar) an insight view from within. They were not meant to fulfil a poltical agenda but to represent how Burmese wanted to present themselves to their fellow countrymen (most images are portraits).
These negatives are the only record of Burmese documenting Burmese throughout the last century that are in a coherent form. The current changes in Myanmar can only be described as rapid and materials such as negatives from the past are not considered valuable at this time. Many remaining photo studios who's owners have practised photography for several generations and many decades have either disposed of their negatives as storage has become difficult or sold them to recycling stations in order to extract silver from the negatives. The report and knowledge gained as well as the connections made during the research period should lead to a detailed work plan and clear objectives and possibilities for a major project as well as clarification if the materials still exist in the hoped for quantity.
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