What does it mean to be a female* photographer in Myanmar? The SITUATIONS team of Fotomuseum Winterthur approached the Thuma collective, founded in 2017, with this question. Its members, Shwe Wutt Hmon, Khin Kyi Htet, Rita Khin, Tin Htet Paing and Yu Yu Myint Than, want to encourage women* interested in art to tell their stories through the camera lens and fill the existing gap in the photo scene, which consists to 85% of men. The Thuma photographers see themselves as “visual storytellers”. Rita Khin, for example, shares in her work Body and Soul (2018) intimate glimpses into the lives and struggles of transgender people in a country where surgeries and medication for transition are illegal. Journalist Tin Htet Paing, for her part, is currently working on reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic in Myanmar.
Thuma publishes photo books, uses social media such as Facebook and Instagram, and runs workshops to raise awareness and share their knowledge. They also started the seven-month course “Contemporary Documentary Photography Practice” in collaboration with the Myanmar Deitta Gallery. The practical course is aimed at emerging photographers who want to develop their skills in contemporary documentary photography.
In recent years, a wave of such associations of female photographers can be observed worldwide: Women Photographer (*2017), Alreadymade (*2018) and Female.Photographers.Org (*2019) are just a few examples of this development. All these feminist collectives aim to make the work of women* visible in the photo and art scene and to create a platform that serves both content-based and economical purposes.
Thuma on Facebook: facebook.com/thumacollective
Thuma on Instagram: instagram.com/thuma_collective
“Contemporary Documentary Photography Practice” in collaboration with Deitta Gallery, Myanmar: deitta.org/portfolio/contemporary-documentary-photography-practice