Born in 1966, Htein Lin first studied law and was active in the 1988 student movement at Rangoon University. He spent several years in refugee camps (where he studied art with Mandalay artist Sitt Nyein Aye) before being detained from 1991 to 1992. He held two solo exhibitions before being arrested in 1998 and jailed on spurious accusations of opposition activity, spending almost seven years in jail (1998-2004). During this time he continued his artistic practice using items available to him, such as cigarette lighters and the cotton of prison uniforms. Once released, he lived in London from 2006 to 2013 before returning to Myanmar in July 2013.
Htein Lin pioneered performance art in Burma in 1996 and continued to perform for fellow inmates while in prison. Following his release, his Rangoon street performance ‘Mobile Art Gallery/Mobile Market’ in May 2005 led to 5 more days of interrogation. During the period 2006-2011 he also performed in the UK and Thailand, at the US Library of Congress (2009) and at festivals and events in Finland, France, Philippines, Japan, Malaysia, and Bangladesh.
Retuning to Myanmar after a few years in London has had an impact on Htein Lin’s work, leading to a reconnection with community. His creative practice is very much based on community and collaborations. One such example is “Show of hands”, a project in which Htein Lin worked with more than 400 former political prisoners in order to make a plaster cast of their hand and arm and record their experiences. We are excited to be screening a video made by the artist which documented the process of seeing this project come to fruition and its respective impact.