Friday, 19 October 2018

พฤษภา-พฤษภา

May-May
Black Diary
Charnvit Kasetsiri's พฤษภา-พฤษภา: สังคม-รัฐไทย กับความรุนแรงทางการเมือง was published in 2013. The book examines the military massacres of May 1992 and May 2010, including rare reproductions of newspaper coverage from 1992. Charnvit's previous books on Thailand's modern history include October 14, 1973 Student Uprising (บันทึกประวัติศาสตร์ 14 ตุลา).

พฤษภา-พฤษภา also features a VCD of a documentary (พฤษภาทมิฬ) originally released on VHS in 1992. The documentary is most notable for its subversive soundtrack: footage of soldiers beating protesters is accompanied by an ironic Ad Carabao song (ผู้ทน) praising the government, providing an intentional counterpoint to the massacre footage.

Gigantrix Extinction

Gigantrix Extinction
Gigantrix Extinction Gigantrix Extinction
Gigantrix Extinction, the debut album by Thai thrash metal band Killing Fields, was released in 2012 on CD and cassette. The cassette version is limited to 100 numbered copies (mine being number 89). The two formats have different album covers, both of which are drawings inspired by Neal Ulevich's photograph of the 6th October 1976 massacre. (The US punk band Dead Kennedys used the photo as the cover for their single Holiday in Cambodia.)

Gigantrix Extension includes the song 6th October, which is about the state-orchestrated killing of students during the 1976 massacre. Earlier this year, Killing Fields performed at จะ4ปีแล้วนะ, a concert marking the four-year anniversary of the 2014 coup.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Doc Club Theater

Mundane History
By the Time It Gets Dark
Anocha Suwichakornpong's films Mundane History (เจ้านกกระจอก) and By the Time It Gets Dark (ดาวคะนอง) will be shown at Bangkok's Warehouse 30 later this month, at screenings organised by Doc Club Theater. They will play as a double bill on 22nd October, followed by individual screenings on consecutive evenings (By the Time It Gets Dark on 25th October, and Mundane History on 26th October). Almost exactly a year ago, a proposed screening of By the Time It Gets Dark at the same venue was inexplicably cancelled by Thai police.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Ghost:2561

Ghost:2561
Blue
Ghost:2561, a series of video screenings at galleries throughout Bangkok, began yesterday and runs until 28th October. (2561 in the Buddhist calendar equates to 2018 in the Gregorian calendar.) The event includes Blue (ตะวันดับ), a new video by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, in which his muse, Jenjira Pongpas, falls asleep in front of a series of theatrical backdrops. As Jenjira sleeps, a flame appears, and gradually the entire scene becomes engulfed in a blazing fire.

The liminality between sleeping, dreaming, and wakefulness is a recurrent theme in Apichatpong's work. He filmed his boyfriend asleep on three consecutive nights for Teem, and Dilbar shows a construction worker sleeping. Sleep is also central to Apichatpong's most recent feature film, Cemetery of Splendour (รักที่ขอนแก่น), and his segment of the new portmanteau film Ten Years Thailand (Song of the City). The fire in Blue has echoes of his Primitive installation project, such as the burning football in Phantoms of Nabua.

Blue, showing at Bangkok's Gallery VER, is projected onto a large glass screen, hanging in the centre of the darkened gallery. This produces reflections of the images on the walls and floor, highlighting the film's theatricality and demonstrating Apichatpong's continued fascination with (and mastery of) the effects of light.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

1001 Movies
You Must See Before You Die

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, edited by Steven Jay Schneider, has been revised for 2018. The new edition, updated by Ian Haydn Smith, features eleven new films, and eleven titles have been deleted. 1001 Movies was first published in 2003, and has been updated annually ever since. It was completely revised in 2013, though other editions (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017) featured only minor changes.

The new films in the 2018 edition are: The Handmaiden; Lady Macbeth; Lady Bird; The Shape of Water; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Call Me by Your Name; Mother!; Blade Runner 2049; Get Out; and Black Panther. While these choices are all justified though predictable, the documentary Dawson City: Frozen Time is a more surprising addition. The deleted films are: No Man's Land; The Consequences of Love; Tsotsi; Lincoln; The Revenant; Hell or High Water; The Jungle Book (the Jon Favreau version); Jackie; Manchester by the Sea; I, Daniel Blake; and Arrival.

PDF

Sunday, 7 October 2018

"The Washington Times
retracts it in its entirety..."

The Washington Times
The Washington Times has reached an out-of-court settlement with Aaron Rich, after he sued the newspaper for defamation. Rich's brother, Seth, became the subject of a conspiracy theory after his unsolved murder in 2016. It was alleged, without any evidence, that Seth Rich had leaked Democratic National Committee emails to WikiLeaks.

In a Washington Times op-ed published on 2nd March (page B3), James Lyons stated the conspiracy theory as a fact, implicating both Seth and Aaron Rich in the DNC email leak: "Interestingly, it is well known in the intelligence circles that Seth Rich and his brother, Aaron Rich, downloaded the DNC emails and was paid by Wikileaks for that information." [Aside from its defamatory nature, the sentence has at least three grammatical errors.]

The newspaper has since deleted the article (headlined "More cover-up questions") from its website. It has also issued a retraction, disavowing the op-ed's allegations about the Rich brothers: "The Washington Times now does not have any basis to believe any part of that statement to be true, and The Washington Times retracts it in its entirety."

PDF

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Internet Universality Beyond Words

Internet Universality Beyond Words
Watch!
Watch!
The Simpsons
Neal Ulevich
Internet Universality Beyond Words features a handful of videos and installations commenting on internet freedom in Thailand. The mini exhibition opened on 28th September at TCDC's new Bangkok premises, the converted Grand Postal Building, and runs until 14th October. (TCDC moved from its smaller Emporium location last year.)

The centrepiece is Watch!, a dramatic paper sculpture by Wee Viraporn. From a distance, it's a pixelated representation of Prayuth Chan-ocha's eyes, implying that the Prime Minister is monitoring Thai citizens' online activities. On closer inspection, each pixel is a cube featuring pictures of Thai military and junta controversies, such as the GT200 corruption scandal and the cover of Time's 2nd July issue (a Prayuth interview that the magazine's distributors withheld from Thailand).

The most interesting work is much less conspicuous: a video playing on an iPhone. This short film, by Tewprai Bualoi, is a montage of online memes taken from cartoons and news clips, and even its title is a meme: Friendship Ended with Mudasir Now Salman Is My Best Friend (มิตรภาพสิ้นสุดกับ Mudasir ตอนนี้ Salman คือเพื่อนที่ดีที่สุดของฉัน).

Tewprai's film uses codes and metaphors that refer to the 6th October 1976 massacre. A photo of director Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, the Red Bull logo, and the Scout emblem refer respectively to Nawaphon, the Red Gaurs, and the Village Scouts (the three militia groups that instigated the violence). It also includes a clip from The Simpsons (broadcast on 1st December 1996) of Bart hitting Homer with a chair, in reference to Neal Ulevich's photograph of a man preparing to attack a corpse in the same way. There are also split-second shots of the gate in Nakhon Pathom from which two pro-democracy activists were hanged.

video

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Thai Politics III

Thai Politics III
Miti Ruangkritya's Thai Politics III is part of his Thai Politics series inspired by Thai political polarisation. The exhibition catalogue, in an edition of 500 numbered copies, features reproductions of defaced posters from the 2011 election, in which Yingluck Shinawatra defeated Abhisit Vejjajiva. The cover has been die-cut to simulate a slashed poster of Abhisit. Manit Sriwanichpoom's series The Election of Hatred (การเลือกตั้งแห่งความเกลียดชัง) also featured photographs of defaced 2011 election posters.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Concept, Context, Contestation

Concept, Context, Contestation
Blue October
Loss of Hearing
History Class
The Election of Hatred
The Concept, Context, Contestation: Art and the Collective in Southeast Asia (มโนทัศน์ บริบท และการต่อต้าน: ศิลปะและส่วนรวมในเอเชียตะวันออกเฉียงใต้) exhibition was held at BACC in 2014. The scholarly exhibition catalogue, edited by Iola Lenzi, features essays on art in Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The plates section includes rare reproductions of Vasan Sitthiket's Blue October (ตุลาลัย), recreating photographs of the 1976 Thammasat massacre; Paphonsak Lao-or's Loss of Hearing (สูญเสียการได้ยิน), commenting on lèse-majesté by self-censoring books on page 112; Sutee Kunavichayanont's History Class (ห้องเรียนประวัติศาสตร์), with sensitive historical events carved onto school desks; and Manit Sriwanichpoom's The Election of Hatred (การเลือกตั้งแห่งความเกลียดชัง), defaced 2011 election posters similar to Miti Ruangkritya's Thai Politics III.