San Francisco, CA, October 10, 2013 — Long-time Asia Foundation photographer Geoffrey Hiller today exceeded his Kickstarter campaign goal to collect over $19,000 to produce a new volume of photography on Myanmar by April 2014. Hiller will collaborate with editors Natasha Chandani and Lana Cavar to produce a high-quality, 192-page book of exquisite color photographs to document life in Myanmar from 1987 through its recent historic transition. Essays by prominent writers and journalists will accompany the images to provide further context to the images.
Hiller’s work has taken him around the world, but the country that has drawn him back most often is Myanmar. “I first went in 1987 on a one-week visa,” Hiller recalls. “After a frenetic trip, it wasn’t so much the monks and pagodas that haunted me, but the faces of the Burmese, painted in white, often smiling. I wanted to find out more about who they really were, plagued by an isolationist military dictatorship.”
Despite international sanctions that included a travel boycott, Hiller returned in 2000. “The military now called the country ‘Myanmar’ and was no less repressive but allowed me to stay longer and travel more freely. The result was the multimedia web site Burma: Grace Under Pressure, which won awards and was seen by millions.”
In 2011, the US Embassy hired Hiller to teach photojournalists in Yangon. “I did not know that the government was beginning to relax censorship and free political prisoners. There was still not one picture of ‘The Lady’, and no one talked about her.” But by early 2012, that had changed. Hiller witnessed one of the first rallies where Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy party were allowed to appear publicly. Hiller returned in 2013 and focused on capturing daily life, from the cramped streets of the British colonial capital of Yangon, to dusty markets in Mandalay, to Muslims in Meikhtila, and river life in Pathein.
In addition to his assignments working for The Asia Foundation, Hiller’s work has been published in Geo, Newsweek, Mother Jones, and the New York Times Magazine. He has completed dozens of photo essays in Asia, Latin America, Europe, and West Africa and was on staff at the Brazilian edition of National Geographic for two years. Hiller’s award-winning multimedia projects on Vietnam, Eastern Europe, Ghana, Burma, and Brazil have earned recognition from Apple Computer, The Christian Science Monitor and USA Today. He has received grants from the Paul Allen Foundation, the California Arts Council, Regional Arts and Culture Council in Portland, Oregon, among others. His photos have appeared on covers of The Asia Foundation’s annual reports.
Hiller was a Fulbright Scholar in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2008-2009. Most recently, he worked as an international media trainer in India, Myanmar, and Cambodia. Hiller is the creator and editor of Verve Photo: The New Breed of Documentary Photographers. His home is in Portland, Oregon. Read more about Hiller’s upcoming book at NPR and The Huffington Post, and stay updated on the latest developments at www.hillerphoto.com.
The Asia Foundation has a long history of work in Myanmar, dating back to the 1950s, and since 2007, has donated more than 80,000 books valued at $3.2 million. The Foundation is now in the process of re-opening our resident office to support the country’s democratic transition and development. Our program will aim to strengthen institutions of democratic governance; enhance the country’s foreign affairs capacities; support the management of subnational conflict; support free, fair, and credible elections; expand access to information and informed public debate; and assist with economic reforms for broad-based growth and opportunities for all.