Monica Denevan

The first time I traveled to Burma in 2000, I knew very little about the country and it’s politics. I remember being struck by the meditative beauty of the landscape, the sensory chaos of the cities, and the quiet elegance of the people. As I read and learned more about the history and political situation, it seemed as though the only news and images coming from the country were exceedingly negative and ugly. Most tourists are kept away from this reality, myself included. 

I wanted to photograph the people I was spending my time with: the men and boys who joked around with me and each other, the girls whose laughter was so sweet, the friends I had tea with, the familiar faces we’d meet on the road, and soon my days were all about making pictures. 

What I was drawn to were the areas outside the cities, the villages next to the river, where fishermen and their families lived and worked. In that spare and graphic river setting, I made intimate portraits, mostly of the men I encountered, in isolated and stylized poses. Returning to those places annually developed an ongoing series, yet more importantly, it familiarized me with the rhythm of the landscape, and connected me to a small group of people who kindly allow me to photograph them. 

Much has changed in Burma since my first trip yet my impression still is that much of the country looks like early 20th century images and I kept my version of that look in mind as I made my photographs.


For more information about the artist, please visit her website.