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HTEIN LIN

b. 1966, Ingapu, Myanmar
Lives and works in Yangon, Myanmar

Singapore Biennale 2016 Artists HTEIN LIN

Singapore Biennale 2016 Artists HTEIN LIN

Singapore Biennale 2016 Artists HTEIN LIN

 

Soap Blocked, 2016

Carved soap, books and poster
Dimensions variable
Collection of the Artist

A map of Myanmar, painstakingly constructed of a thousand squares of sculpted Shwe Wah soap, testifies to the artist’s tumultuous life. After participating in the failed uprising of 1988, Htein Lin fled underground to refugee camps. He returned to Yangon in the early 1990s, but was arrested and jailed on charges of opposition activity. While in prison for almost seven years, he made art on scraps of fabric, prison uniforms – and in soap. From a bar of soap, he carved a little captive human figure, trapped within the claustrophobic confines of four walls. The piece was smuggled out by a Red Cross representative in 1999, communicating to the world the deplorable state of Myanmar’s prisons. Soap Blocked returns to the original moment of this desperate, clandestine plea. The work amplifies autobiographical resonance into a starkly visceral monument to the collective helplessness that was experienced under socialist military rule.