July 12, 2012 00:00 By Phatarawadee Phataranawik
Video and photography from across Southeast Asia converges at the Jim Thompson Art Centre
Thai businessmen and educators are gearing up for the great shift to the Asean Economic Community in 2015, and ordinary citizens can get a better idea of what’s ahead with a look at the art from our neighbours in “Traces” at the Jim Thompson Art Centre.
Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam join Thailand in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). Video art and photography from many of those countries is on view, delving into collective social memories and shared communal history.
Curator Gridthiya Gaweewong has assembled works from 2002 to 2012 to create an overview of Southeast Asian creativity in the past decade.
Myanmar’s Moe Satt offers tales from the censorship battlefront. He peers silently out of his photos and videos like “F n’ F” (“Face & Fingers”) and uses body language to explain what it’s like being unable to express yourself freely. Moe says he found 108 different ways to express himself using face and fingers alone.
Malaysia’s Wong Hoy Cheong brings his video “Re-Looking”, which addresses post-colonialism in the wake of the Vietnam War. It’s a fictional yarn about a Malaysian kingdom that takes over Austria.
Vandy Rattana’s photography collection “Bomb Ponds” deals with rural Cambodia, severely bombed by the US during the Vietnam War. Nguyen Trinh Thi’s video “Chronicle of a Tape Recorded Over” contains the testimonies of ordinary people who lived along the lethal Ho Chi Minh Trail during that same conflict.
Ho Tzu Nyen’s video “Utama – Every Name in History is I” is a genre-blending fictional documentary about the founding of Singapore,
Patty Chang and David Kelley’s video “Route 3” is a “road film” of sorts when considered in spatial terms, specifically about the new trade route linking China, Laos and Thailand.
The decline of Thailand’s stand-alone movie theatres and contradictions in urban public spaces holds the attention of American Philip Jablon, who has a master’s degree in sustainable development from Chiang Mai University.
Thai filmmaker Sompot Chidgasornpongse’s “Bangkok in the Evening” suggests we look more closely at our daily routines, such as pausing twice-daily while the national anthem plays. Another Thai, Nattapas Jirasatitwarakul, questions why school students must wear uniforms. He dislikes such standardisation.