Sawangwongse Yawnghwe (MM)

"Sawang was born in the jungle, in a village called Na Lek (Iron Field), denoting a very infertile, barren spot, like 'sour earth'. After his formative years spent in Chiangmai, when arriving in Vancouver in 1985, he was out of the house as fast as he could (at age 17); he supported himself and got through college flipping that thing at McD."

His painting Several figures at the base of a mountain on display during Rijksakademie Open Studios is part of a series titled Zomia Zombie Apocalypse. It depicts several disemboweled soldiers. These figures are technically dead while biologically still alive. They speak to each other, unaware that they no longer live. They are, as Agamben defines it, reduced to "bare life." Their lives are spoiled, yet they remains undead. They exist in a framework sustained by law, but they are not governed by the rule of law. They reflect the nation state of Myanmar, a country that looks democratic on the outside but is totalitarian internally. Like the disemboweled living corpse, its ontological status has changed, yet it goes on talking, laughing and chewing on its own innards.