Monday, 29 March 2010

Samui 2010

Back to Samui, first  time since that little interval last year . . . this time my companion was Piyatat Hemmatat and we stayed at The Library . . . P'Ji, the GM had kindly invited us to check it out and see what little projects we might be able to do together . . . needless to say, it was like a primed blank canvas waiting to be painted upon, in the most secluded and private enclave that exists on Chaweng beach . . I'd say there are a few fun little things we could do.

Caroline Gaimari, her sister Angela and Laetitia stayed the weekend too, this was their first visit to our wonderful kingdom, Caroline recovering from Paris Fashion Week festivities, the magazine she works at, Purple, being the centre of much fashion and culture of late. Respect to the girls for  not shying away from the shambles that political in fighting has caused.  

Caroline and Piyatat

Laetitia and Angela

We had a fun little weekend in SAmui, love the red pool, it's what I imaginei walking on Mars would be like.  

The library is great, especially in the day time, a little oasis of books and dvd's. Oh and Breakfast Culture on the beach- that we absolutely adored . . .even if I resulted in me being burnt like a lobster taking completely foregranted the intensity to the Thai sun.

YL Residence was also lovely, owned by a friend of Piyatat's, private, seculded and totally Miami . . .like those houses on star island with its own lawn.  What kind of parties could be thrown there with close friends, one can just imagine, I know Caroline is plotting especially because there is a zoo next door and she got to pose with a tiger. . .and we got to meet little baby cubs and monkeys. Too cute.

Alas, Monday morning arrived and Bkk was dead, a strange tension enveloped the city, it took me less than 20 mins to get to work thus it felt like I acutally got a bkk airways flight to MCOT.  

Monday, 22 March 2010

R.I.P. Joseph

Joseph or Joe was was one of the most inspiring and visionary men I have ever met, he was my mentor's mentor and in turn taught me a lot of what I know especially when I was new to Paris and he showed me the ropes and really took care of me . . . drinks at the Montelambert, the Bistro de Paris and more drinks at the Costes . . . all his wonderful stories..

A man of kindness, generosity and never ending curiousity and creativity . . .and let's not forget great style and taste . . . Joe with his immaculate suits and cigar.

You will be greatly missed and I am so sad but I'm sure you are now in peace as your suffering has ended.

R.I.P Joe . . .with love, always

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Navin's Party, the Yellows and the Reds

Just when you thought there is really no hope . . . and your hope descends deeper and deeper into the realms of darkness with the never ending bickering between the Reds and the Yellows with the former's excuse of freeing the "people" in order to literally "spill blood" . . . and just when the conflict of ideology and reality of gross inequalities comes to light and it becomes clear that the real victims are not acknowledged, along comes Navin's party.  

Navin and I

By all means an imaginary party but one which begs the question as to whether we could all get along as Navin under one party because a shared name (or Nevin or Nabin or whatever), if a party is just about a name or sharing something in common be it ideology or just benefit and questions the party system and politics as it is today.
Navin is an artistic phenomenon, he is a manic producer of work, definitely pop in the way it speaks to popular culture but satirical and challenging at the same time.  Just when one thinks "Where is Navin?" where did he go?  He comes along with his "Party" the culmination of 4 years of work which challenges and questions all those things perceived to be correct.  He collected all the Navins in the world and rest be content, there are many in different forms and renditions and formed his "party" - he then celebrated it with a New Orleans style party of balloons with the Korean "Nabin" stamped on them, gumbo, jambalaya rice and crayfish and multiple statues of his the Party Manifesto.  It was a installation for the senses where the Korean drama was replicated to show the essence of the Nabin (Korean for Navin) party, there was even a Bollywood film as part of his party's campaign, the party campaign.  
He challenges the idea of the party system and ideology altogether and really, can all these different ideologies exist under one name?
Perhaps yes, if that name is Navin . . . Is it not ludicrous really to believe and support if it is all in a name? or in Thailand's case a colour? What is it that we all believe in anyway? It is a satire of society and politics that humours, provokes and challenges.
The opening of his great ouevre was at Jean Michel's and Pasri Bunnag's private gallery . . .a beautiful glass structure with the must cutting edge and thought provoking collection of Thai contemporary art.  

I was particulsarly taken by this piece by Araya . . .Departure of Country Thai Girls. 
A paiting by Pinaree that can be seen in the background and another by Montien Boonmee recalling a mood and texture found in Arte Povera movement and in part of Sera but with a particularly Thai touch, this is after all a pagoda.

The grand dame herself, Pasri Bunnag is an inspiration to me as is the grand matriarch of Thai performance art, Patravadi.
Patravadi and Pasri

Khun Yai Pasri and I

A Thai, New Orleans big band played throughout the night as we drunk and talked art and the state of affairs - so litteraly, Navin's PARTY - as always, it was lovely to catch up with P'Harry, P'Brook, Malina, John, P'Eric, P'Kong and Khun Yai.  The new addition, I grew particularly fond of was Khun Kati Boonlontub. .the family's big labrador who's name means Coconut-Milk Under a lot of merit . . . he along with most of us perhaps oblivious as to what was or not at all, acknowledging that there is something wrong and the fate of our country is grey yet choosing to carry on.  

It is perhaps in times like these when the only solace we have is each other and art . . . after all, is that not what expression is about? An offering of an alternative reality and a capturing of a moment in time? 

At that time I never would have thought that the vicious bickering between the two sides and the vicious bloody-mindedness of one man would descend to a blood bath, voodoo rituals, the illegal gathering of information decontextualised to coerce and convince people that the government are out to harm them, the consequence being to incite, fear, hate and paranoia in the population.  I am at a loss of words to see with my own eyes how blood is not spilt out of "love" or in battle but drawn to throw away.  

It would be naive if not darn right ignorant to say all this does not effect us, the long standing effect being that there will always be doubt and never again can we be the land of smiles the tourist sites make us out to be.  Then again, Thais forget and business goes on but what will it take to erase this away . . . a paint job might not work this time.  It needs a change to a place where we do care about our fellow countrymen irrespective of ethnicity, wealth or class, it needs respect, and these things must be established before we can even talk about democracy. 

Thank you Navin for showing that art should care and anything less than a criticism of the way things are, a satire or an alternative is not good enough - not at this time.  Art is a language and in these troubled times, it should speak about it, to not, would be ignoring the realities.  It should inspire and challenge and it must enable the viewer to  engage and to empathise, how does it exist otherwise, an empty void lacks a purpose which is only just pretty but that in itself, beauty without substance is vacuous.  

To say, "I will do my thing irrespective of institutional support and I will express myself no matter what" is already a criticism of the status quo.  Thailand is innately a country of artists - it is now time that we care and form our own parties, our own thoughts and express ourselves, not at the expense of others but also to serve them. . .Sure it is political, and politics can be a pain but we must accept that we cannot escape it and therefore we have a responsibility and we can give effect to that in our own way, by doing what we do best . . .and that can be in the form of creating beautiful things.  

So, Hail and Hail Navin's Party and I'll be seeing you at Mahakarta.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

The other Tokyo . . .

outside the realms of TPAM and Connected is yet another world . . .I have some friends in Tokyo that I caught up with and some new friends that I made . . .this is the Tokyo beyond the isolated world of performance.  It really was an eye opener . . .  the techniques that are used in performance to engage the audience, I suppose theatre did come before TV after all.  Some things are about the small intimate experience, so much so that one needs to touch and feel it, no matter what exposure facebook or a blog can give you maybe in the end it is about actually BEING there.  I fell in love again with Tokyo this time because I got to touch and feel it . . . and this is when one realises that it is what you do as well as well as you who you meet whilst doing it that makes the difference . .The journey and those mysterious encounters.

Okonomo Yaki . . .a new discovery with Takeshi, Yukie and Takehiro

The Stoke Newington boys . . . after their morning at Tsukiji . . .then on the train . . .(Gregor and I did not go to the market)
Literally lost in translation on the JR

Home Alone (an exhibition in Daikanayama)
Ped and Tommy at Dita store

A secret wine theatre with Yuki
Surfing in Chigasaki
rocking the wet seal look - Takeshi, Tommy and I (with my amaaazing Malia Jones Typhoon board which Takeshi has kept for me)

amazing organic buffet after surfing

Hello Kitty, Yuki and I (Yuki was not even supposed to be in Japan so it was a wonderful surprise and amazing to catch up, and she totally spoilt me as well - thanks Yuki for Donkey, Tatami, sashimi and funny tokyo moments)

Bye bye Tokyo
On the Narita Express Limousine I overheard some kids talk about the Vanity Fair Oscars party a skating and surfing trip and a big tour . . .I figured the kid must be some pro skater/snowboarder or soemting.  So out of interest, I asked Yuki via bbim if she had ever heard of or seen a shaggy redhead who sounded very charming and funny who was a pro skater or skier. . .well, her bf who is a skater said that it must be Shaun White.  Well, you see , I've not heard of Shaun White, nor has Yuki, and it turned out to be Shaun White . . . a prodigy and well, 2 time olympic snowboard champion and amazing pro-skater. There goes my street cred for admitting that - he was nice, funny and his publicist, very lovely.  There you go, one of those chance encounters . . . that may or may not become something . . . how cool would it be if finally him and all these people I met came to Bkk, even if it was just for a moment so we can see, touch, feel and get to kow all these things that we read out and hear about . . . That is the other Tokyo for me. Must bring it home . . .back to bkk. Thank you Tokyo. 

Rabbit by Coney

Coney creates games, ones that the audience engage in . . .we do not know what it is that we are to find, we do not know what it is that really we are looking for yet on the journey you discover things that are not scripted . . .one ventures into the unknown.  Tavos Stevens of Coney left us to our own devices, by a dictatorial rabbit who told us what to do and spoke in code, instructions that were random, about his lost love . . .it is a tokyo love story by a rabbit . . . we went underground, to his home but this was more like the complex tunnel of which is Ikebukuro . . . pictures speak louder than words . . . 

some of Rabbit's friends . . .owls on a moon (depends who you look at them)

Live Art Speed Date

Performance for a while now, is no longer left to the realm of the audience as a non-participant, where he/she watches in silence as the performers do their thing, express their art.  In Tokyo, I went to a speed dating session,with Stoke Newington International Airport, a group based in East London at an imaginary airport.  Their performance - Live Art Speed Date is perhaps less of a performance rather than a complete experience.  To see and be there is to believe . 

One enters Super Deluxe to be given instructions and date cards, the boys then demonstrate. . .  I got 5 dates in 5 different locations, all dates with various artists. . .an intimate 4 minutes where you engage and have a date, where you share a moment, no matter how planned it is on the part of the artist, each date is different, it has to be.  One enters the realm of intentional accidents and the unknown.  Where does reality begin and make believe start? is it at the end of 4 minutes? What they create is a platform, where you get your own personal performance, that as "date" feels like a personal experience.  

My first date was with an artist who caressed my hand under a table and together we traced our hands with crayons . . .it was beautiful.
On another, I was told by the girl that she "noodles me" and she performed a solo ouvre whilst preparing my cup noodles of which as my initials are CW she added Chocolate and Whipped cream of which she proceeded to feed to me.  .. .wow.

Then the bar code birl . . where through the scan of a barcode she played me songs

Then the paper theatre from London where threw SKYPE they made me a story with me in it . .

And last but not least, a date that Paul and I crashed was Cherry Taiphoon, a burlesque Japanese rather chubby lady who took us to a cubicle  . . .need I say more?

Maybe I am saying too much . . .maybe too little . . .and of course there was Chatroulette.

Whatever it is was - it was memorable and really absolutely wonderful.  I wonder when I will have another speed date again . . .

Contact Gonzo

Never have I seen a drummer with this kind of intensity, this kind of drama . . .and this was dance . .we were on the edge of our seats . . .the mix of violence, emotions, suspense, choreography and martial arts . . . as the audience, we were kept completely in dark as to what would happen next.  That is theatre perhaps . . .or what theatre should be.

Nekobukuro - cats cats cats

Cats are really special, they have 9 lives and they see into the soul . . .or have some kind of sense, or so they say.  We know that cats are really special in Tokyo what with Murakami's "Kafka on the Shore" and of course the Maneki Neko who brings in fortune (the little cat that calls you in).  Well, in the depths of Ikebukuro where the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space is and where we stayed as that was where all the action was taking place, on top of Tokyo Hands is Nekobukuro . . .or a cat petting zoo.  

A cat in his house

There is nothing like it . . . it's like a zoo/pet shop but basically you go along and pet cats . . . the most bizarre experience EVER . . .and I suppose one of those curiousities unique to the city where if you  cannot keep a cat you can go and pet them and love them still.

Hiding Cat

My fave cat

I did this in between a dance performance and Live Art Speed Date . . .the performance by Contact Gonzo like nothing I have ever seen before . . .and then Live Art Speed Date . . .

Piggy Tokyo

I had the pleasure of spending all of last week in Tokyo - a city which no matter how many times I have been I do not fail but feel like Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation, that might be a cliche by now but it is true.  The little quirks, the contrasts, the obsessiveness that makes it Tokyo - oh how I love it. 

I was a delagate of the British Council, representing MCOT, for the Tokyo Performance Arts Market and The UK's Connected showcase.  It was brilliant albeit exhausting. I really opened my eyes but more on that later . . . It is overwhelming the sites and sounds . . .especially when one is watching 3-4 performances a day . . .more on that later.

First thing was first though . . .food, and well, the Isetan food market is reason enough to relocate to Tokyo . .I thought this was genius . . .loove.
Cheesy Piggy

Also, Maisen . . .always my first stop, an institution of a Tonkatsu place, enough so to have its own road . . .and of course, I should bump into my co-patriots from Thailand, a dozen of them, making  a little stop in Tokyo after skiing. . . .

a Farmer's market below Chanel

pop-up Kitsune at Montoak

That is only day one.