Lanta Island is the first settlement of U-rak Lawei (Sea people) in the south of Thailand. Now one of the greatest destination of western tourists, for its beauty beach and unigue clearsea water. The Thai government declare the island a reserved forest, in order to protect the sea and the forest on the island, without recognition that there were people lived in the area before. The sea people now pushed to the end of the island. They fought for their existence and co-existence with the forest and the sea. Their religion is water, sky, land, woods and fire, they live very simple lives and rely on fish and their crops.
Thai and international activists, intellectual and conservationists, support the fight of U-rak Lawei, but this long fight is still prolong by government forestry department and said the law must be changed first for the department to follow.
They are now stranded between law and rights, like fish in the trap.
The area will submerge in the water every evening, when sea water rise. I was standing on the edge, where sometimes fill with water or just on the edge of water. The performance took about 1 hr and 15 minutes. I return the trap to the owner, which then put the trap in his boat to the sea.
So many lives sacrificed during the conflict war. Many is still lived in bad memories, and wounds of war still remain. I rather talk about life – living, and breath keeps lives go on. We cannot see breath, and many times we forget about it, but breath keep coming and going, until our lives stop.
It's about an hour or two hours walk, I used harmonica mounted to my mouth and shut my nose breath-holes. I breath through harmonica which created sound every time I breath. While walking I also roll twine around my (point) index finger, in order to measure the distance as well as to create blood clod over times at the end of the finger.
I walked along the street, and enter in remembrance sites, Shankill cemetary across the gate between east and west. I ended the walk at the front gate of a flour factory, which was once a center of a revolutionary force.
The performance was not about the war, but about how much life is important and how much freedom is important, as well.
Standing is a series of same performances began in 2000, in Dresden, Germany. Artist stand holding an umbrella over an empty chair, as invitation for people participation. The work is always performed in public space, and was performed in many cities, such as Bangkok, Chiangmai/Thailand, San Diago/Philippines, Nara/Japan, Jerusalem/Israel, Korea, etc.
I started this performance as to emphasis the need of art space for public, at the time I was part of the artists network in Bangkok, campaign for Bangkok Art Center (which later in 2008, Bangkok Art & Culture Centre was erected in the center of Bangkok city.). When Bangkok lacked of public art space.
However, many people interpret the action as a native slave holding an umbrella for a foreign master who sits on a chair.
In 2015, I visited a sea people community in southern island called Lanta Island, where sea people settled down several hundred years ago. The visit was part of a research trip of several artists to areas where the government planned to build coal port near where these people lived. In a village I found an oil plastic tank, the people use in their fishing boat. I borrowed the oil tank and did an impromptu poetry while drumming the oil tank, by the sea.
I like this performance very much, and tried out in different locations. In this image I use the whole 4 floors of the gallery space with several audience help me drum several oil tanks. It was very loud and exciting as I led people through the building and chant 'Wake Up, people, wake up'.
Dress in peasant suite and stand still with eyes blinded with masking tape.
I started to think about peasants live and tradition, when I moved back to live in my home in the northern province. Traditionally has not change much, many people of my age, live the lives just like what I saw when I was 5 years old. It's like nostalgia the time stops there. In the same times there were very few young people in the village, as many went to study in big cities, or work as employees in offices or stores, in town. These old people are the last generation of peasant culture. Everything goes by whether you see it or not, the changing is coming, and I will also lost in the generation.
When I close my eyes for hours of standing still, in strange surrounding as unknown site, I did not even see myself, I completely give myself into the space and ready to take any situation, it may occur.
BACC was the center of the Bangkok Art Biennale (BAB), the organizer asked me do a closing performance for the BAB. The photo point performance was perfect for this occasion. For one instant nowadays taking photo or selfie, is a culture of mobile phone era. Most people who came to art show, especially this really rare event like BAB, mobile phone photos are public actions of all people.
The photo point performance started a few years back, as one of the public intervention performance. In this event, I perform the whole day, from opening hour of the art center at 10 AM, until it closed at 9 PM. I spent the time exploring every art works that installed at the BACC, and every where I stood with the sign, people would take turn selfie with me.
It's a performance to enjoy.
There were the hot sun at 10 AM, the wind, the big blue water, the big blue sky, birds and tiny land of the size a little bigger than my bedroom. I decided to use two pieces of old woods found in the area, in my bag I had a roll of red adheresive tape, and mouth harmonica. I borrow a stool from a hotel, where I stayed. I want this performance to emphasis my body and noise of my breathing. I want to become part of this scenery, this nature, this water land. I took my shirt off put a piece of stick through its arm length, and make it like a flag attached to my arm, I become part of this flag, or the flag become part of my body. The weight of the wood and the wind and the heat, I can feel in my whole body, the more I was trying to keep the flag high, my breath become louder, and louder and louder.
It is one of the most simple action that I really like.
Dawei, is a small city in southern Myanmar, near the Thai border. Many people in the city can speak both Thai and Myanmar, and their ethnic language of Mon.
I was among 4 other Thai artists, participate in the local art festival, at Dawei Art Center. We had workshops and learn about social and political situation in the area, and on the last day I did this public intervention performance.
Artists in Dawei, are painter, realistic painter, just like what they have learnt from art school. However, most of their painting were beautiful landscape and colourful morning market. I spent 5 days searching for what should or could I do, in this quiet small city, of Mon ethnic and Thai speaking Burmese population. There is a mirror shop at the front of city market, and everyone walk into the market will pass through mirrors hang on walls or standing on the floor. It was not very long walk, from fish market to the art center was about 500 metres or half a kilometre. But the street will be busy with cars, tricycle, and activities in the market also pick up around 4 PM.
The reflection in the mirror was my body, I thought, and the walk was very nice. After the walk I stand still in the center door of the art center, just like a mirror we hand on a front wall, my body reflected everyone walked into the art show.
I wish to do this performance again in some other cities.
I wrote about this photo action (365 days/365 photo), as the following:
Today is 1 December 2020, and it is 30 days to the last day of the year 31 December 2020, which is my face record 365 Days project is coming to an end. I would like to tell you about an idea why I do this:
1. I want to know how my face changes each day throughout the year, by recording them each day.
2. I want to challenge myself, if I can keep doing this same action everyday for 365 days. After a while I think I can understand the different between discipline and honesty. Very often that I must fight with my believe in laziness and free expressions, about I must keep the frame of the picture most similar to the day before, uses same peasant shirt, and how I select the background. The action seems very boring and repetitive everyday. But when I look at them they are like recorded of my life in one year. On the other hand they are my diary, and record of where I went, where I was at the day.
3. Throughout the time this year, I keep asking myself if this project is art, and what will make it not art? As a matter of facts, I am not really pay much attention whether it is art or not, but it is certainly not just another activity, at least for me is not bad idea to try out, though it takes a one long year, of questionable daily activity.
4. Since I started this project, everyday I would look at each day photo, that I select and posted on my FB page. After a while I noticed that my face does not look the same each day, sometimes because of different light, air, weather, and sites, but many times they are not physical and environment, but probably my inside, mind or whatever, which make my different faces. I (we) am (are) not look the same everyday, throughout our lives, may be?
This one year process, helped me think and re-think, and found some incredible thoughtful moment, the balance between living life and small moment of self-recognition.
Everyday I am able to look at surrounding environment. I feel them more, every day, I recognize them more each day. Moreover, each photo taken, made me hungry to see the next day image – one more day of my life.
Thank you for giving me another 1 more year.
In the year 2008, my mother die at the age of 92. She has been living in hallucination for a few years, and the doctor told me that her condition cause by sodium deficiency means Mom's body did not accept salt, anymore. It was a process to the end of her life.
On the top of the mountain in our province, there's a district that produce mountain salt. They have been there and doing this business for hundreds of year – or may be thousand. Salt was and is our export product, and we distributed salt as far as southern China and northern Myanmar of Shan state.
In my mind since childhood, salt come by our house every early morning on the caravan of cows, walked through the thick forest down from the mountain to villages along the river, they arrived the city early morning and would stop at our house's well, to rest the caravan, and cleaned their body. The caravan leader would carried with them herbal products, rattan, and news from up mountain villages, our relatives, or my fathers friends. And if we had something to give to our relatives up there, they also can take them for us.
Salt for me is more than salty, or food ingredients, salt is the way of life, salt is where we belongs, etc…