Tuesday, June 2, 2009

On a Burden of Delight (4) Paisarn Plienbangchang in Silpa Wattantham column of Siam Rath Weekly, Yr.51, Vol.6, 2-8 July 2004

1/ Yes, the story of my journey goes on. It may not be too nasty and unmanageable for the uninitiated. At least, some very basic things are revealed about you and I - the selves we have chosen and which we will either express or hold back - the hidden reality.
2/ In addition to the works themselves, we had opportunities to visit the studios of other artists in Bandung whose journey is part of the story of the fight to change society and politics in Indonesia. Their actions should be recorded and acknowledged.
3/ From atop a mountain, DAGO PAKAR, from a higher vantage point, wee the landscape of the country, wide and clear. Sanggar Lukhur is the studio of SUJANA KERTON who is an artist and a newspaper reporter. Her work tells of the way of life of old people, of the poor people everywhere – not the wealthy. She is a leading artist, and famous, comparable to the late AFANDI, a big artist. At Afandi’s studio, all his works are collected together from his early to his later periods, and taken care of by his wife and daughter.
4/ Next, we journeyed with pleasure to the studio of SUNARYO, an artist of the next generation. The place should have been a state museum rather than an artist’s studio. There were permanent exhibition rooms and rotating exhibition halls, video rooms, pavilions outside for exhibitions and seminars, and even a charming coffee shop.
5/ Sunaryo creates drawings, paintings and modern sculpture. His works, many of them, have been shaken by the wars and riots in Indonesia, and the wars in the Middle East. In Bandung there are his sculptures which resemble monuments or memorials. He is a well-known artist with many talents and he is also wealthy. That’s not easy to find!
6/ When I saw them, I thought of many artists in Thailand who have their own studios, but they are truly private. They seldom let people who are interested come for a visit to study the working of the artist. Mostly, they only let some groups, some buyers come. We may just not be used to these ways.
7/ Speaking of Performance Art, what can we keep and collect to show for the work we have done? The artist’s expression? There is only a pile of objects which were used in the work, sometimes only the pulverized leftovers. Sometimes there are crumbs and leftover food, spoiled and smelly. Or it may be a pile of paper which would appear meaningless to most people.
8/ This is actually part of the way of thinking of this kind of art. The artist wants to make art which denies previous ideas about art. The process, itself, of doing the art is the heart of the thing. Developing the work in upcoming pieces later – the milestones of dynamic ideas. But it depends on imagining, creating or testing something in a chosen area of expression.
9/ The following evening of the festival began somewhat roughly because of the organizer’s mistakes – as I wrote. They didn’t seem so very sincere or focused on doing things in an orderly way. Some things ran short; some things were in excess. Even the announcement of the schedule of shows. Sometimes the stage was crazy. It has to be regarded as [learning by] experience which will have to be corrected by them next time if they want to work with artists from other countries.
10/ Beginning with a Swedish artist, JOHANNES BERGMARK. He gave the name ‘Stringed Stirrups’ to his work, in which he strung himself up in the air and then played the lines with the bow of a violin. The lines were attached to speakers. Sometimes he plucked. Sometimes he struck the strings. The sound was not like any ordinary musical instrument we hear. It was a synthesized sound arising from experiments, exploring new sounds out of the ordinary. But Johannes didn’t seem very satisfied with his performance. There was not the resonance he had hoped for. So, he tried again when the others had all shown. He must have been disappointed that he came so far and didn’t get his act together as he had hoped to do.
11/ Preparation of many instruments, and very chaotic. MASSIMO ZANASI from Italy used radio, tapes and CDs at four corners around him and walked about grandly, carrying a football. The music was a bit like opera, somewhat sorrowful, as if someone was mumbling and grumbling. Sometimes the cheering of sports events could be heard. He applied perfume and shaved carefully, but it took a long time and we began to get bored. At last he assumed the pose of a Greek or Roman statue. [Paisarn is not impressed with this pointless show, but the audience likes it generally. Paisarn therefore concludes:] Whatever the whites do, people think they look good.
12/ Using the self as the site of performance, you could see in the work of a local artist, YOYO YOGASMAN. Yoyo stood on a stone pedestal like a statue. He invited artist friends to run a white string round him. There was the sound of Indonesian music to set the pace, fast and slow. People were asked to tuck branches in among the strings, as if the sculpture was very old and had sprouted leaves. In the end, he had them run the string round repeatedly.
13/ Perhaps the artist played too much. The string got too tight. He couldn’t do anything. The string eventually became so tight that he fell down into the audience, who weren’t sure if it was an accident or part of the show. He did get stitches on his head as evidence of his historic performance.
14/ There were many other performances, including Thai artists such as myself (PAISARN PLIENBANGCHANG) and WICHUKORN THANGPAIBOON. We coordinated with artists from many other countries. Our own art critic, TANOM CHAPAKDI, joined us on this trip and liked it so very much.

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