Sunday, April 19, 2009
Paisarn Plienbangchang. On A Burden of Delight. Yr.51, Vol. 1, 28 May – 3 June, 2004. In Silpa Wattanatham column of Siamrath Weekly News Magazine.
[Paisarn describes the journey of 3 Thai performance artists/ art critics to Bandung Indonesia to join a performance art festival]
1/ In an atmosphere of delight at the end of the week in April, by strong personal desire or air letter – I don’t know what made us three decide to go to Indonesia to join in performance art with local artists there.
2/Some contract of allies of the heart – or not – that we who work in this field have– it’s what makes me love to join, learn, see and enter fully in participating as well. Some people might find the answer after joining in for a time, but as for me, I am still not completely certain. Sometimes I can’t make up my mind why I find myself in these spots.
3/ I might say lightly (just to annoy) that I sometimes call it my ‘duty’ or the ‘burden’ I must carry. But it is a burden of delight that I enjoy, without opening my mouth to yell loudly in annoyance at people around me. We all have our burdens, don’t we?
4/ By the time we got out of customs and got our passports stamped at the airport in Jakarta, it was almost 9 PM. There was an uproar as taxis came looking for those who had money to hire them. White plates, black plates, all kinds of taxis were ready to offer services which we did not need. We almost had to use another language beside smiles to refuse them, and that kind of confrontation when you travel is not good.
5/ Our destination was Bandung. We had to travel by car another long distance, and a nighttime journey with limited information through a place you don’t know is not to be trusted. After connecting (noisily, and on a bad line) with the organizers, they arranged for a rented car to take us to Bandung that very night. It was better than paying for a hotel in Jakarta and having to look for a car in the morning – or whatever.
6/ It seemed that the driver figured we were really anxious to reach our destination. But he didn’t take as much care for safety as we would have liked. He drove madly, as if he had no brake to use. The dark, narrow road went up a high mountain. Looking down at the city below was like seeing the lights from an airplane. And then there were the 3 cars ahead of us, and the cars passing each other on the narrow highway.
7/ We - meaning myself, Thanom Chapakdi and Wisut Tangpaiboon – just sat thinking to ourselves: well nothing worse than this has happened…our journey is just beginning. It has hardly gotten started. P’Thanom was in front with the driver. He had the worst of it. Maybe he helped by sometimes putting his foot on the brake…
8/ As soon as we arrived, thankfully, at our lodging, which the driver got to in good time (usually it takes 4 hours- he made it in less than 3) the first artist friend we met was Arai Chin-ichi from Japan. We were especially happy to see him. He had been there alone for 2 days and had no one to talk to. He was quite lonely; his language is not so good. Drinking beer alone was no fun, so he was glad to see old friends. If it had not already been after midnight, we could have sat around reminiscing.
9/ This project was the IAPAO, International Association of Performance Art Organizers. That makes it a bit too fancy. It looks like some big organization supported by state funding. Actually, it was born out of artists chatting together who love working in this kind of art. They created a group, a network of people with similar ideas, linking their work among various areas where they live, all over the world.
10/ Creating such an organization happens naturally when artists from many countries contact each other in big art festivals just about anywhere. These ideas do not arise in official places. Sometimes, they are someone’s bright idea. It slips out after the 10th bottle of beer, or when the wine runs low. The idea may arise at table where people are eating, in a restaurant, in a bar, or even in a yard or field. Anywhere. Just depends on when the idea pops up.
11/ This event of the IAPAO was organized by a group of artists calling themselves B+PAC (Bandung Performance Art Community). Rumar Nusantara was the organizer. There were three artist regulars, represented by Yoyo Yogasmana, quite young compared with many of Indonesia’s famous artists of the past decade.
12/ After a breakfast of coffee and fried rice, a sort of ‘Welcome to Indonesia and Bandung City,’ there was a seminar. And there was another the next day, too, before the performances began. The group in the seminar were the artists who were going to take part in the performances. They hoped to get together and expand the project, using modern methods such as various communication techniques and making use of people with like talents.
13/ We three went into the meeting to listen to the ideas being shared in the morning. It was going to be a long time before any concrete decisions were made, so we decided to separate from the group because that wasn’t why we came to this event. We remained artists, not leader-administrators. Our ideas are of a different sort. This time, we would remain outside.
14/ One reality which happens, or which we have seen before, is people who create and realize dreams: whatever the agency, they picture themselves as a center bringing many things together. They hope to be a gathering place, a shared place that expands many things and helps to make a name for themselves.
15/ Sometimes we forget to consider the size and content of the work we are actually capable of doing. We don’t see [the limitations of ] what is actually within our own power to do to move the work ahead. Such oversights have led to some high profile failures.
The work has only just begun - - that’s what I say.