In a year that has seen Bangkok welcome a few new theatres, it’s a small art space converted from a former guesthouse, namely Thonglor Art Space which has been the most prolific. Of course, its prime location, less than five minutes on foot from the BTS station is part of the reason, but, as many theatre operators have realised by now, it’s the software, the keenly curated multi-disciplinary arts programmes all year round, that keeps it alive and thriving.
The recently ended inaugural edition of the “Low Fat Art Fest” provided irrefutable proof of why it’s not called a theatre, a performing arts centre or a centre for dramatic arts. In this day and age when both artists and audiences cross genres, it’s much better to keep options open.
Curated by Wasurachata Unaprom, the month-long festival – the first two weeks of which were also part of the Bangkok Theatre Festival – included stage performances from Japan, Korea, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand – also at Pridi Banomyong Institute and Creative Industries – in addition to film screenings, a photo exhibition and post-film and post-show discussion sessions, all of which drew considerable number of audiences. Interestingly, the festival received a great deal of support from foreign cultural institutes and embassies, but none from our Ministry of Culture.
The last weekend of the festival presented on the third floor “La vie en rose”, a black light photo exhibition by Mattanin Voramala who asked the viewers to perceive how different her photos and writings on them looked and felt in different sources of light. On the opposite side of the room was a row of chairs with one pillow, perhaps asking the viewers to linger and see how that perception would change.
Two storeys down was the stage for Daloy Dance Company’s contemporary dance work “Dysmorphilia”. Young Filipino artistic director and choreographer Ea Torrado, who was also part of this skilful four-dancer ensemble, wanted to ask her audience to reconsider how we perceive bodies that do not exactly fit the norm.
Reading her statement made me think of a plastic surgeon friend who specialises in correcting physical disorders but draws the line at cosmetic surgery.
Sadly though, while young Torrado’s extreme deconstruction and reconstruction of the bodies and her focus on sexual organs was hilarious at first and a turn-off when repeated, they looked so non human and sci-fi like that any empathy was lost.
Thai filmmaker Chulayarnnon Siriphol’s video work was part of the performance but it was evident that the Thai and Filipino artists needed to spend more time together as the connection between the moving images and the moving bodies was not yet in specific synchronisation.
And perhaps I spent too much time at Mattanin’s exhibition, I could only find a seat towards the side and the image I watched wasn’t as neat as the photos here.
GOOD OLD DAYS
<“Cassette Tapes Night Party”, in which you can listen to your favourite songs from cassettes and watch movies from VHS tapes, is on December 19, from 4 to 10pm at Thonglor Art Space.
For more information, check out the “ThonglorArtSpace” page on Facebook.