Off the Side of the Road to Mandalay

For the last half century, Burma's oil industry has largely gone unrealized. Political instability and a lack of infrastructure kept most of the global energy companies away, but now that democracy has loosened the country's borders, a new culture of cars, highways, and gas stations is emerging. The photographer Craig Easton captured this unique moment in the Southeast Asian nation's history with his series 26 Gas Stations. “I was struck by the fact that every petrol station was different and so unlike the uniformity of branding that we are used to in North America,” he said. Some of the stations Easton photographed on his journey from Rangoon to Mandalay were nothing more than “old tarpaulin stretched over a single petrol pump,” while others look like an Exxon original—plus brightly colored paint. Easton was inspired by Ed Ruscha’s essay of a similar title (Twentysix Gas Stations). “As Ruscha’s work in 1963 spoke of the freedom of the road and the relationship of 60s America to the automobile and the wealth of a nation built on oil,” Easton said, “the gas stations of [Burma] seem to tell a story of a nation ready for change.”

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Ognen Teofilovski / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 6/18-6/24

    A glass slide 1,000 feet above the ground in Los Angeles, an emu is helped away from a California wildfire, a selfie in the 125 degrees Fahrenheit heat of Palm Springs, a Hello Kitty face grown on a melon in Japan, and much more.

  • Roger Steffens / Benrubi Gallery

    A Family Album on Acid

    Roger Steffens’ photographs of his wife, son, and daughter during the Electric Kool-Aid era

  • Sergio Perez / Reuters

    A Tripped Syrian Refugee Finds a Home in Spain

    Last September, photos of a Syrian refugee being tripped by a Hungarian camerawoman as he tried to flee border police went viral. His story caught the attention of a soccer training school near Madrid that helped him find work and a new home.

  • Ringo H.W. Chiu / AP

    Photos of Southern California's Wildfires

    A punishing heat wave across the American Southwest has spawned a number of early season wildfires in Southern California, including the Sherpa Fire, which has burned nearly 8,000 acres in less than a week.

Join the Discussion