Being brought up in a closed and conservative society, I was taught that conversations on our sex, sexuality, body, period and menstruation are all taboos. Growing up as a woman, I have always been asking myself what menstruation means to me. For me, it’s part of my existence. In fact, it’s very important part of my existence. Although I have never judged menophobia, which a lot of other people felt, I question why we have to speak in whispers about something inherent to our existence.
For some women, it is just natural process of their bodies. For some, it is pain, something they dislike. For some, it is something they are very proud of. For some, it is a taboo. For some, it is something full of myths that they have to challenge.
“Dharmatā” is the result of my visualization process on a part of womanhood within the context of Burmese society, based on my conversations with all the women and girls who trust and shared their menstrual experiences and stories with me.
* Dharmatā is a Sanskrit word meaning the intrinsic nature of things, translated as “suchness” or “absolute nature” as well. In Myanmar tradition, Dharmatā is a colloquial term for menstruation.
Shwe Wutt Hmon (born 1986) is a freelance photographer based in Yangon, Myanmar, and also works as an independent researcher for UN agencies and international organizations.
Shwe is one of the founding members of a Myanmar based women photographer collective, Thuma Collective. Shwe has published two collective photo books, “Us & Beyond”, self-published by Thuma Collective and “Bridging the Naf”, funded by the Norwegian People’s Aid.
Shwe’s works focus on collective identity, human relationships, exploring mental health and telling long-term stories of places and people that close to her heart. She tells personal stories from which she connects and examines larger social issues; vice versa she works on social stories reflecting and drawing from her position within the issue.
Shwe was a participant in 13th Angkor Photo’s professional workshop in 2017. She was a mentee in Invisible Photographer Asia’s Mentorship Program in 2018, and was selected for South Asia Incubator 1 at Photo Kathmandu 2018. She completed her first artist residency at Villa Sträuli in Winterthur, Switzerland, in early 2020, supported by Pro Helvetia Swiss Arts Council, New Delhi. Shwe is the recipient of Objectifs Documentary Award 2020 (Open Category) from the Objectifs Center of Photography and Film and World Press Photo’s 2020 Joop Swart Masterclass participant.