In the world of performance art, where emotions and expressions collide to create profound narratives, Kelvin Shine Ko, a performance artist from Myanmar, stands out with his unique blend of theater and body movement. In a recent interview with us, Kelvin shared insights into his work, his inspirations, and how he uses his art to navigate the complex theme of “home” in the context of loss, memory, and integration into a new community.

Kelvin Shine Ko


The Essence of Home Through Performance Art

Kelvin’s performance, presented before a panel discussion we organized with BEAM Foundation on Youth’s Identity Development and Agency in Regional Migration, delves into the deeply personal theme of “home” and its myriad definitions. Inspired by the warmth and memories of ‘Auntie’, a neighbor who represented the quintessence of home for him, Kelvin crafts a performance that is both a tribute and a conversation with her. The loss of ‘Auntie’ during the COVID-19 pandemic left a void filled with unspoken words and unshared moments, driving Kelvin to express his longing and memories through his art. His performance, marked by a poignant shout, symbolizes an emotional outpouring aimed at reconnecting with ‘Auntie’, embodying his feelings of loss, remembrance, and the unyielding bonds of family.

A distinctive element of Kelvin’s performance is the use of white cloth, inviting participants to inscribe their own interpretations of “home” onto the fabric. This interactive aspect serves as a collective canvas, reflecting the universal longing for a place that offers warmth and safety, irrespective of its physical location. Kelvin’s choice of white fabric acts as a metaphor for the blank pages of memory we all carry within us, pages on which our definitions of home are continuously rewritten.

Another intriguing component of Kelvin’s artistic expression is the incorporation of sound, specifically a repetitive “tick, tick, tick,” which Kelvin describes as a method of communication with the departed ‘Auntie’. This sound motif underscores the performance’s theme of connection beyond the physical realm, suggesting that love and memory can transcend even the finality of death. Through this auditory element, Kelvin explores the possibilities of maintaining bonds with loved ones who have passed away, using sound as a bridge between worlds.



Finding Home in a New Community

Kelvin’s journey extends beyond the borders of Myanmar to Thailand, where he seeks to integrate and find a sense of belonging in a new community. He emphasizes the importance of openness and making connections with those around him, viewing friendship as a pathway to creating a “home” in an unfamiliar environment. However, Kelvin acknowledges the complexity of feeling truly welcomed, highlighting that acceptance and integration are deeply personal experiences influenced by individual attitudes and the willingness of the community to embrace newcomers.

Kelvin’s work is a poignant exploration of the themes of home, loss, and the search for belonging in a world marked by transient relationships and shifting landscapes. Through his performance art, Kelvin invites us to reflect on our own definitions of home and the memories that anchor us to people and places. His art becomes a conduit for healing, a way to navigate the grief of loss while also celebrating the enduring power of love and memory.

Kelvin’s artistic journey, while deeply personal, also echoes a common narrative among young people across the globe who find themselves navigating the complexities of displacement, whether due to conflict, economic hardship, or environmental crises. His exploration of “home” through performance art not only sheds light on his individual experience but also resonates with the broader experience of youth who are compelled to leave their homes behind. 

Forced displacement, wars, and other crises have uprooted millions, challenging their concepts of belonging and identity. Yet, in the midst of these upheavals, the quest to create new connections and redefine “home” in foreign lands emerges as a shared struggle. Kelvin’s story is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of loss and change, reflecting a universal yearning for a sense of place and community amidst the tumultuous years. Through his work, we are reminded of the power of art to bridge divides, heal wounds, and forge a common understanding of what it means to find or build a “home” in an ever-changing world.


Interview by Kheetanat Wannaboworn

Interview Translation assisted by Aung Khant Thu