Thursday, July 19, 2012

Traces of Southeast Asian cinema at Jim Thompson Art Center

Photos and video art from across Southeast Asia are featured in the  Traces exhibition at the Jim Thompson Art Center on Kasemsan Soi 2, near the National Stadium BTS station in Bangkok.

Of interest to cinema-buffs will be a display of photos from the Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project, with images of the old stand-alone cinemas across Thailand, Laos and Burma. Some are still in operation but most are closed or have been relegated to other uses, such as car parking or as a dressing room for prostitutes.

Among the video installations is Bangkok in the Evening by Sompot Chidgasornpongse, which captures Bangkokians as they pause their daily routines and stand still for the 6pm playing of the national anthem. Sompot is a former assistant director of Apichatpong Weerasethakul and is at work on his debut feature, Are We There Yet?, due out sometime soon, hopefully.

Also of note is Nguyen Trinh Thi’s Chronicle of a Tape Recorded Over, a documentary on the Ho Chi Minh Trail that turns into a look at censorship when the filmmakers are detained for questioning by police and the camera kept rolling. It previously screened at this year's Bangkok Experimental Film Festival.

An entertaining video is Ho Tzu Nyen’s Utama – Every Name in History is I, which is a fantastical look at the legendary ancient history of Singapore. It reminds me of the cheesy Chinese fantasy TV series that are broadcast daily on Thai TV.

Traces runs until October 31 at the Jim Thompson Art Centre, which is open daily and has free admission.

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