Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Caligula Night

Caligula
On 1st June, film professor Stephen Barber will introduce a free screening of Caligula at the Electric Pussycat Lounge in Bangkok. Caligula, directed by Tinto Brass, remains one of the most controversial films ever made.

The original director's cut featured scenes of graphic violence and simulated sex, though producer Bob Guccioni inserted hardcore sex sequences against the wishes of the director and the distinguished cast (which included Malcolm McDowell and John Gielgud). Brass, director of exploitation classics such as Salon Kitty, later disowned the film, and it has been heavily censored around the world.

Explicit imagery is rarely permitted by Thailand's film ratings board: Insects In The Backyard and This Area Is Under Quarantine were banned for this reason. (However, film-festival screenings, such as Anatomy Of Hell, Serbis, Otto, Antichrist, and Dogtooth, are generally given more leniency.) There have been covert screenings of Taxidermia, Reincarnate, and The Terrorists, all of which are extremely graphic; presumably the forthcoming Caligula Night screening is similarly unauthorised.

How To Cook Jesus Christ

Artist Javier Krahe has been charged with blasphemy after his art film How To Cook Jesus Christ was shown on television in Spain. Krahe directed the short film with Enrique Sesena in 1978, and it was immediately banned. It was broadcast on the Canal+ TV show Lo + Plus in 2004, and the show's producers are also facing blasphemy charges. The film's original title is 10 Comentarios: Sobre La Cristofagia, though it is more commonly known as Como Cocinar Un Cristo (How To Cook Jesus Christ).

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Saturday, 26 May 2012

Citizen Dog

Citizen Dog
Tomorrow, the National Film Archive (in Salaya, near Bangkok) will screen Wisit Sasanatieng's film Citizen Dog. This whimsical romantic comedy retains the over-saturated colours of Wisit's debut film, the incredible Tears Of The Black Tiger (screened at the Archive in 2009 and 2010). After Citizen Dog, Wisit directed more mainstream projects: the horror film The Unseeable (featured in Spirits) and the action movie The Red Eagle (screened at Movies On The Beach).

Wisit has also made the short film Norasinghavatar (part of the Traces Of Siamese Smile exhibition), the music video เราเป็นคนไทย, and a segment of the portmanteau film Sawasdee Bangkok. He wrote the scripts for Nonzee Nimibutr's Nang Nak and 2499, wrote the outline for Kongkiat Khomsiri's Slice, appeared at the 28 Days festival, and designed the posters for the 2008 and 2009 Bangkok International Film Festivals. Currently, he is working with Thunska Pansittivorakul on the forthcoming film Supernatural.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Artists' Postcards

Artists' Postcards
Artists' Postcards: A Compendium, by Jeremy Cooper, is the first book dedicated to the postcard as an artistic medium. Rather than discussing scenic tourist postcards (as in Frank Staff's The Picture Postcard & Its Origins and Martin Willoughby's A History Of Postcards), Cooper focuses on limited-edition postcards produced by artists.

An excellent introduction traces the cultural history of postcards and their artistic appropriation, and subsequent chapters present a chronological survey of postcard artworks. The bulk of the book is dedicated to an annotated taxonomy of contemporary artists' postcards. There is no bibliography.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Spear

The Spear The Spear
Ngcono Ihlewpu Kunesibhanxa Sesityebi
The South African government, the ANC, has insisted on the removal of a portrait of President Zuma from the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg. The painting, The Spear by Brett Murray, depicts Zuma exposing his genitals, and is based on an iconic propaganda portrait of Lenin; it was due to be exhibited until 16th June, as part of the Hail To The Thief II exhibition.

The painting was also reproduced by the Sunday newspaper City Press, on 13th May. It was vandalised today, when two gallery visitors daubed paint onto it. Zuma has been caricatured before, by the cartoonist Zapiro.

There is an artistic precedent for The Spear: Ayanda Mabulu's painting Ngcono Ihlewpu Kunesibhanxa Sesityebi (2010) also depicts a naked Zuma. Mabulu's work was included in his Unmute My Tongue exhibition in Capetown.

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Tuesday, 15 May 2012

ประชาเฌอระลึก

ประชาเฌอระลึก
The Terrorists
An arts event, ประชาเฌอระลึก, will be held tonight at Bangkok's Soi Rangnam to commemorate the second anniversary of Black May 2010. An abridged version of Thunska Pansittivorakul's powerful film The Terrorists will be screened.

Two years after the Thai army massacred its own citizens, there has been no accountability. The military's destructive influence continues, and its immunity is a stain on Thailand's reputation.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy
Killing Idiot: Greed In Your Heads
Thai Nukes
Hypocrisy, a new exhibition by Vasan Sitthiket, opened this evening at Thavibu Gallery in Bangkok. Vasan's work is often scathingly direct in its condemnation of political figures, and the new paintings in this exhibition are no exception. Most graphically, Hillary Clinton is portrayed nude, giving birth to an enormous and literal representation of phallocentric power. In another painting, a beatific Buddha shoots various world leaders with an automatic rifle.

The paintings are accompanied by Thai Nukes, a supplementary exhibition of more than a hundred wooden phalli painted with ironic globalisation slogans, in an adjacent gallery. Hypocrisy and Thai Nukes will close on 9th June. Vasan's recent exhibitions have included the solo shows Obsessive Compulsive and Ten Evil Scenes Of Thai Politic, joint shows The Human Clay and Chaotic Victory, and group shows Return Ticket and From Message To Media.

Nameye Amir

Nameye Amir The Guardian
An Iranian cartoonist, Mahmud Shokraye, has been sentenced to twenty-five lashes after he drew a cartoon of politician Ahmad Lotfi Ashtiani as a footballer. The caricature was published by the newspaper Nameye Amir.

In solidarity with the cartoonist, and in protest at his barbaric sentence, Martin Rowson reproduced the original cartoon and drew a grotesque portrait of the politician as an obese, wailing baby. Rowson's cartoon was published by The Guardian in the UK on Thursday.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows
Dark Shadows is Tim Burton's eighth film with Johnny Dep, after Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride, Sweeney Todd, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, and Alice In Wonderland. Depp's vampire references Nosferatu (rising from his coffin), but also Michael Jackson (with umbrella and shades); he has flashes of violence (like Sweeney Todd), and the naivety of Edward Scissorhands (adjusting to modern suburban life).

Like Depp, Helena Bonham Carter (playing a kooky psychiatrist) and Christopher Lee (in a cameo role) are also Burton regulars. The cast also includes Michelle Pfeiffer, who played Catwoman in Burton's under-rated Batman Returns, Chloe Moretz (from Hugo and Kick-Ass), and Burton lookalike Alice Cooper.

Compressing a soap-opera into a feature film results in an over-abundace of characters. There's a suitably Gothic atmosphere, especially in the historical flashback sequences, though there's more camp humour than horror or pathos.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Cryptoart

Cryptoart
Cryptoart: The Hidden History Of Art, an exhibition by Rafael Andres, known as The Raf, opens at Eat Me in Bangkok on Monday. The Raf has reproduced iconic paintings, such as Leonardo's Mona Lisa, though with a twist: he digitally adds subversive additional elements to each picture.

The effect is similar to Jake & Dinos Chapman's appropriation of Goya's etchings, or an extension of Marcel Duchamp's LHOOQ. Cryptoart, curated by Pan Pan Narkprasert (Gagasmicism) closes on 29th June.

The Heritage Of World's Prints

The Heritage Of World's Prints
The Heritage Of World's Prints
An exhibition of signed prints, The Heritage Of World's Prints [sic.], opened today at Artery Post-Modern Gallery in Bangkok. The exhibition, featuring works by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and others, will close on 31st May. (Prints by Picasso and other iconic artists were also included in The Art Of Time, in 2008.)

The exhibition's poster is a reproduction of Picasso's 1954 lithograph La Femme Au Singe, which was produced in an edition of fifty. The exhibition also includes another Picasso lithograph, which is perhaps a variation of his Le Chevalier & Le Page from 1951, and three Picasso etchings. (Strangely, the exhibition does not list the titles or dates of any of the exhibits.)

Bastards Of Misrepresentation

Bastards Of Misrepresentation
Itch
Bastards Of Misrepresentation: Doing Time On Filipino Time, a group exhibition showcasing contemporary art from the Philippines, opens today at H Gallery in Bangkok. The exhibition, curated by Manuel Ocampo and featuring MM Yu's photographs of Manila roadkill titled Itch, will close on 11th June.