Sunday, May 01, 2011

Aung San Suu Kyi and the Brighton Festival

The 46th Brighton Festival begins next weekend - England's biggest arts festival, and the second biggest in the UK after Edinburgh. In recent years, the festival has been curated by a guest director. Brian Eno took the reigns last year and Anish Kapoor had the one before.

This year, the guest director for the festival is none other than Aung San Suu Kyi, the world-renowned Burmese democracy activist recently-released from her long-term house arrest. Although she is still unable to leave the country (or get back into it if she does), she will be fulfilling the role in absentia. I doubt that this means that she has played much of a role in the programming of events, but that many of the events at the festival are themed in her honour - whether to do with Burma specifically or with freedom and democracy in general.

The above video is her personal message for the festival, recorded in February of this year. Although brief, it is a powerful message about the importance of freedom of expression. She ends with a hope to one day be able to visit Brighton again (having done so once before, a long time ago) - a ringing endorsement of this city where, overall, an individual can always be themselves and express that sense of self however they see fit.

No comments: