Chan Chao

The recent unfolding of events in Myanmar has dominated the news in recent weeks. I feel an obligation to say/do something about it, even though I try not to use the blog as a political tool. Living in a neighboring country, I can do more than just shake my head futilely everytime I hear the news. I present to you a series of portraits – Burma: Something Went Wrong, taken by DC-based photographer Chan Chao in 1996.

The intimate quality of the photographs highlights the individual characteristics of the subjects – personal clothing, scars or hairstyles, body posture. The photographs of the subjects, often holding objects of everyday life, have a warm and personal quality that demonstrates that these individuals are more than participants in a conflict.

© Chan Chao

© Chan Chao

© Chan Chao
[all images © Chan Chao]

Chan Chao traveled along Myanmar’s border with Thailand and India on a personal assignment to rediscover his roots. His family migrated to the United States when he was 12 and he wanted to learn more about his own culture. In the process, he documented portraits of people he met; trying to portray the long-suffering people’s hope against the military regime. Months after his work, many of the places he went to were overran and razed by the army.

Although these images were made more than a decade ago, the strength and resilience of the subjects are not lost. The struggle continues now and it is sad to see the carnage. While we enjoy the comfort of our surroundings, many around the world continue to live in fear. I do not how we can change things but the least we could do is to show our support for those who need it.

May peace return to Myanmar soon.

More images can be viewed here. There is also a video on the series narrated by the photographer himself.