Blood, Dreams + Gold
Myanmar Photography Exhibition
The circular railway
Yangon’s circular railway snakes slowly around the underbelly of the city, leading its passengers on a physical and mental journey. The heat and the incessant rattle of the train lulling them into a dreamlike state as life unfolds.
Inside the carriage, the passageway is alive with hawkers, beggars and food sellers who glide by with trays of curry, or a pineapple balanced on their heads. Their clientele – stallholders, teens with bleached hair and loud gaggles of soldiers.
Outside, market stalls are squeezed into the sidings. You can reach out – there are no windows – and brush a chunky banana bunch rich with honey-sweet fruit. The endless sun bears down on fish, spread out to dry in every available space: providing the base flavour to Burmese dishes like the awesome balachong. For a European’s senses, the smell is intense, mixed erratically into a heady cocktail of litter and spices.
The railway was built during colonial times and has been serving Yangon’s commuters ever since, linking Insein prison to Dagon university and suburbs like Paywetsikkon. Soon these colourful carriages will be retired and slick Japanese funded trains with AC will serve the 39-station loop.
The city is changing. Glinting skyscrapers erected by incoming foreigners from Singapore and China are trampling over the traditional buildings made of bamboo and wood. A glossy frontage covering a shambolic interior.
While Yangon’s roads are often blocked by traffic, the ponderous rail journey can be a quicker option. And it allows people to dream of gold, love, another life…
David’s pictures capture the reflection of a troubled country that’s being pushed into development. But as onlookers we can only guess what lies beneath the seemingly calm surface.
Portraits from the Circular Line collection are be on display at Lahpet - a beautiful new Burmese restaurant in East London - until the end of October 2018. The restaurant is open from 5:30pm weekdays and from noon on weekends.
Proceeds from photographs sold will be donated directly to the Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar.
Read about the Private View opening night here.