Moving limbs and plenty more

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Set, lighting and sound elements are enhancing our dancegoing experience more than before

Moving limbs and plenty more

Attending a dance performance, we usually expect to clearly see a group of highly skilled dancers on the stage decorated with set and lighting that correspond to the narrative or theme of the work. A joy of attending a contemporary dance festival, though, is that we should always expect the unexpected. 

At the beginning of Cullberg’s “On Earth I’m Done: Mountains”, the audience at the Theatre J.C. Carriere in a northwestern suburb of Montpellier saw a beam of green light over a massive object occupying most area of the stage. It looked as if in this dance work by Swedish national contemporary dance company’s associated artist Jefta van Dinther there were no space for dancers to move. Slowly, we started to see a sole dancer, Cullberg veteran Polish dancer Agnieszka Sjokvist Dlugoszewska, crouched next to it. 

Moving limbs and plenty more

Later, the lighting unhurriedly and meticulously revealed she was holding a long staff that connected this sole human to the object which we soon realized was a large fabricated landscape. Afterwards, this futuristic set piece designed by Austrian-Croatian collective Numen/For Use—whose “Tape Bangkok” we enjoyed crawling through during Bangkok Art Biennale 2018—would, after Dlugoszewska stood up, unfold and change into different shapes and forms either by her actions or Jonathan Winbo’s nifty lighting design. There’s no final answer here if the human has her control over the nature, or vice versa; it’s definite, though, that one has to live with the other on this earth. Accompanied by Dutch composer David Kiers’ sound design, the 70-minute experience was visually otherworldly yet thematically relevant to the here and now.

After the 20-minute intermission during which some audiences were discussing what we had just seen over snacks and drinks, we’re treated with van Dinther’s newest work “On Earth I’m Done: Islands” that just had its world premiere a month prior in the eastern Swedish city of Umea. 

Moving limbs and plenty more

With a strong ensemble of 13 dancers in the same attire/uniform who were without solo parts, the sparse stage was again diversely painted by Winbo’s deft lighting design. Different from interrelationship between the human and the nature in “Mountains”, the focus was more on the humans themselves. Evident in the choreography were poignant discussions on social dis/order, kinship, communication, community, belonging as well as authority. Noticeably, the lighting almost always left some parts, or someone, in the dark. In the ongoing pandemic in which we all become more aware of ourselves as well as others and our governments use different measures in their attempts to return life to its normalcy—whatever that means—, “Islands” is truly apposite to 2022.

Moving limbs and plenty more

Presented as a diptych at Montpellier Danse, either “Mountains” or “Islands” is actually complete in itself as a full-length work and could also be enjoyed on a different evening. Together, though, they give a more fulfilling experience while asking us to think more about the earth we live in—and we cannot yet be done with it—especially now that global warming is back in our conversation again. It’s also noteworthy that while the company was founded as Cullberg Ballet 55 years ago, the B-word was omitted a while ago. These two works clearly explain why: You don’t have to be a dancegoer to fully enjoy Cullberg’s works.    

Nonetheless, the design elements do not have to always be this intricate to support the human performance, or those moving limbs in dance works. That’s evident a few evenings earlier in the same festival at the Theatre de l’Agora. The stage was almost bare except for the scenography featuring movable white partitions designed by Berlin-based Georgian visual artist Thea Djordjadze. 

Moving limbs and plenty more

French choreographer Noe Soulier’s, now director of National Centre of Contemporary Dance (Angers), new work “First Memory” attempts to prove that “The experience of our corporal actions, whether in the present moment or in our memories of them, is always partial,” and “Some parts of the body, objects and sensations are central, while others are left to one side.” Accordingly, his seven dancers’ movements were as unpredictable as the accompanying music by French composer Karl Naegelen. They’re frequently in solo and even when they’re in group sometimes they’re not interacting with one another. At times, they looked like kinetic sculptures and that’s also thanks to different arrangements of partitions and corresponding lighting.   

Moving limbs and plenty more

In the end, the 42nd annual edition of Montpellier Danse has shown us different ways contemporary dance makers are communicating their thoughts and ideas to us dance lovers who look forward to visiting this small town every summer for years to come.

Moving limbs and plenty more

This autumn, the diptych can be seen at the 37th Romaeuropa Festival in the Italian capital; “First Memory” at Festival d’Automne a Paris. More details are at www.montpellierdanse.com, cullberg.com/en/ and cndc.fr/en

By Pawit Mahasarinand
Montpellier, France

The writer’s trip was supported by Montpellier Danse. Special thanks to Maiwenn Rebours and Ambre Martin.

Photo: “Mountains” by Urban Joren; “Islands” by Carl Thorborg; “First Memory” by Anna Van Waeg
 

Published : August 09, 2022

By : THE NATION

Catch the beauty of Taiwanese paper craft at Bangkok exhibition

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Around 70 captivating paper artworks from two talented Taiwanese artists are on display at Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University, highlighting the beauty of the island’s paper craft that portray ecological diversity and nature-friendly ideas.

Catch the beauty of Taiwanese paper craft at Bangkok exhibition

The Taipei Economics & Culture Office in Thailand opened its Taiwan Eco-Island Paper Art Exchange Exhibition on Tuesday at the university.

Attendees at the opening ceremony got to see the skillful transformation of pieces of paper into all manner of three-dimensional sculptures.

They were also treated to live demonstrations and instructions by artist Hsin-Fu Hung on the basics of paper folding.

Catch the beauty of Taiwanese paper craft at Bangkok exhibition

Hsiu-Mei Hsueh, deputy representative of the Taipei Economic & Cultural Office, said both paper art and origami are traditional crafts of Taiwan.

Folding paper into a plane, a frog, or even a crane is an interesting memory for almost every child in Taiwan, she pointed out.

Catch the beauty of Taiwanese paper craft at Bangkok exhibition

Hsueh said she was glad to see this cultural collaboration between Taiwan and Thailand.

Catch the beauty of Taiwanese paper craft at Bangkok exhibition

In the exhibition, two artists – Hsin-Fu Hung and Ching-Yao Liang – incorporate elements from Taiwan’s ecosystems and cultural/social milieu into their artworks.

Catch the beauty of Taiwanese paper craft at Bangkok exhibition

Taiwan is an eco-island rich in biodiversity while its paper art mirrors both the natural environment and its cultural social background.

Catch the beauty of Taiwanese paper craft at Bangkok exhibition

It has developed its own particular style “distinct from traditional Chinese paper art” and has “transcended the boundaries” of Japanese origami.

Catch the beauty of Taiwanese paper craft at Bangkok exhibition

For the exhibition, Hung created ten large paper animal busts, including those of the Formosan buffalo, Formosan sika deer and the Taiwanese black bear.

Catch the beauty of Taiwanese paper craft at Bangkok exhibition

Meanwhile, young artist Ching-Yao Liang introduced three-dimensional paper artwork that depict various objects, including puzzle game cards and a paper replica of the Alishan forest train.

Catch the beauty of Taiwanese paper craft at Bangkok exhibition

One unusual feature of Liang’s works is that through his skillful utilisation of precise mathematical calculations and particular characteristics of paper in addition to ingenious designs, his art pieces often incorporate elements of manoeuvrability and interactivity so everyone can actually have fun playing with them.

Catch the beauty of Taiwanese paper craft at Bangkok exhibition

Catch the exhibition until August 31 at Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University’s Chudharatanabhorn building.

Catch the beauty of Taiwanese paper craft at Bangkok exhibition
Catch the beauty of Taiwanese paper craft at Bangkok exhibition
Catch the beauty of Taiwanese paper craft at Bangkok exhibition
Catch the beauty of Taiwanese paper craft at Bangkok exhibition
Catch the beauty of Taiwanese paper craft at Bangkok exhibition
Catch the beauty of Taiwanese paper craft at Bangkok exhibition

Published : August 03, 2022

By : THE NATION

Korean Cultural Center introduces the world of Korean-Thai Modern Print

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The Korean Cultural Center in Thailand to host the opening ceremony of the invitational exhibition for Korean-Thai Modern Print on August 3, from 5pm at the first floor of the Center.

Korean Cultural Center introduces the world of Korean-Thai Modern Print

The exhibition lasts until August 30 and features works of 28 Korean print artists from the Philoprint Printmakers’ Association and 3 rising print artists from Thailand. In the opening ceremony, around 50 people will attend including print artists and fine arts experts.

Korean Cultural Center introduces the world of Korean-Thai Modern Print

The Philoprint Printmakers’ Association is the leading organization in the Korean print art, and its members are artists who love and like (‘Philo’) print art. H.E. Mr Moon Seoung-Hyun, the ambassador of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea will also attend and deliver the speech to promote art interchange between the two countries. 

Korean Cultural Center introduces the world of Korean-Thai Modern Print

Mr Cho, Jae Il, director of the Korean Cultural Center, said “This exhibition will promote not only various techniques and expression of Korean-Thai modern print, but also art interchange. The center will make effort to promote fine arts exchange between Korea and Thailand as well.”

Korean Cultural Center introduces the world of Korean-Thai Modern Print

The Philoprint Printmakers’ Association was established in 1989 and has contributed to the development of Korean art and print art. At the opening ceremony, many print artists from Korea will attend to introduce their works, such as Kim, Hye Kyung (held the private exhibition 11 times including Seoul Arts Center), and Kim, Kyung Ran (professor of Hankuk University of Foreign Education). On Thai side, Parichart Suphaphan (silver and bronze medalist of the National Exhibition of Art in Thailand), Ploy Nikadanont (full time lecturer of Fine and Applied Arts Division, Mahidol University International College) and Lalida Jitjai (print artist) will attend.

Korean Cultural Center introduces the world of Korean-Thai Modern Print

Published : August 01, 2022

By : THE NATION

Living and acting through controversial veil

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Solo performance by veteran thespian is not just about her Muslim headscarf

Living and acting through controversial veil

Walking into GalileOasis Theatre, an intimate, simple and practical performance hall converted from a shophouse, last Saturday afternoon for Farida Jiraphan’s restage of her 2021 solo work “Hijab”, the audience was met with her friendly and sincere greeting, “Any seat would do: they’re all [expletive] bad.” 

We later found out that it’s actually the opposite, although some seats would feel more breeze of air-conditioning than the others. Throughout this 75-minute performance that’s frequently hilarious and occasionally heartfelt, Farida made sure each of the 60-odd members of the audience on three sides of the performance area, or thrust stage configuration, could clearly hear, see and feel her. This was notwithstanding the fact that her face and body were mostly covered due to her religious belief. 

Interestingly, at the beginning when she realized that her black sanitary mask was still on, over her black hijab, most audience members didn’t even notice it and when she took it off we couldn’t see much difference in our performer who’s entirely in black attire. 

In this fine blend of comedy and drama, Farida started by briefly and clearly explaining what hijab really is and the audience soon understood that this piece of cloth—required in some countries yet banned in others—when put elsewhere will be called something else as it performs a different function. 

Later on, she told us why she became a Muslim and how she was bitten by a theatre bug while watching Theatre 28’s stage adaptation of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, her favourite book when she was a teenager, at Saeng Arun Arts Centre. Then, short excerpts of her performance in Crescent Moon Theatre’s “The Revolutionist” at Pridi Banomyong Institute and Democrazy Studio’s “Hipster the King” and others followed. For those of us old enough to have watched the actual productions of these, witnessing her transform into different characters, with extra pieces of cloth and props, in these short scenes was not only a special treat but, as they’re from seminal stage works, a personal overview of contemporary Thai theatre. 

Living and acting through controversial veil

When she noted that Saeng Arun Arts Centre, Pridi Banomyong Institute and Democrazy Theatre Studio and now she’s performing at GalileOasis, it’s not merely a joke. Given the fact that these were all hubs of contemporary Thai theatre, it’s also a commentary on the lack of support from our culture ministry which simply let them pull the plug. As many arts lovers are wondering when the new National Gallery will be officially opened as its soft launch was almost a year ago, others are questioning what exactly has happened to the plan, since 2017, to build a new performing arts centre behind it.  

Notably, Farida didn’t elaborate on why she decided to put on the hijab, after more than 40 years of not doing so. While this might be a slight letdown, what’s more important, though, is that after having watched her perform these scenes with hijab we realized her acting prowess was in fact exactly the same as without it.  

She mentioned that a few of her television and film acting jobs had been cancelled when the producer realized that this well-rounded performer now needs to cover parts of her face all the time. This speaks volumes about our entertainment industry and how its maturity is lagging behind that of other “democratic” countries, especially now that we’re seriously addressing the issues of inclusivity and multi-cultural society. 

It’s noteworthy here that there’s one truly special moment lasting a few minutes in the performance the details of which I would not spoil here. It’s a silent moment that was perhaps a reason why “Hijab” was at that place and time and needed to be experienced in-person, and never online. 

“Hijab” continues on Saturday (with English surtitles) and Sunday, 3pm at GalileOasis in Soi Kingphet (10-minute walk from BTS Ratchathewi station; limited paid parking nearby). Tickets are Bt 450 (advanced transfer) and Bt 500 (at the door), bookable now at 086 899 5669. 

Next month and September, this new arts hub in the city centre—with a cafe, an art gallery, two restaurants, a dessert shop and others—will host three productions of stage comedies in its“Comedy Tree Festival.” Right now, its vibe is making many theatregoers reminisce about Democrazy Theatre Studio and Thong Lor Art Space of the last decade. Stay tuned for more details here.

By Pawit Mahasarinand
Photo: Nattarika Charoensuk

Published : July 27, 2022

By : THE NATION

“The Way We Dance” AR Digital Art Performance to Affordable Art Fair

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Dorsett Hospitality International is delighted to be bringing The Way We Dance, an Augmented Reality (AR) digital art performance piece, to Affordable Art Fair.

"The Way We Dance" AR Digital Art Performance to Affordable Art Fair

Returning as the Exclusive Hotel Partner for Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong, Melbourne, London Battersea Autumn and Singapore for 2022, Dorsett Hospitality International has always believed in the power of art and technology to bring people together.

With a footprint of 54 hotels in 25 cities, Dorsett Hospitality International has supported the fight against Covid-19 from the very beginning looking after over half a million quarantine guests, medical workers and refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine.

As a hotel group, we’ve been inspired by how our guests, colleagues, front liners and people from all walks of life have danced through the rain, through all challenges together, and come out stronger on the other side.

This is what led us to partner with digital art and creative studio The Collective to create The Way We Dance – choreographed by Yuh Egami (with kind permission from the Hong Kong Ballet) and performed by students Jennie Chou and Lee Kok Liang from the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts.

Combining visual art, virtual space and technology, the dances “Awake” and Progress” have been brought to life via motion capture with each virtual dancer designed through the lens of artists from all over the world; each representing their own unique experiences of the pandemic.

Instagram-activated artwork: House of Joy and House of Dreams

When one door closes, another door opens. Dorsett Hospitality International’s booth, will also showcase House of Joy by Katrina Chuang and House of Dreams by Sunny Sun – two physical artworks on canvas which come to life through an AR Instagram Filter.

Prints of these two art pieces will also be available for visitors to take home to colour and draw their own dreams before activating their own art piece using the Instagram filter!

For more information and imagery, visit: https://www.dorsett.com/en/media/aaf2022-the-way-we-dance.html

"The Way We Dance" AR Digital Art Performance to Affordable Art Fair

Published : July 25, 2022

The art auction keeping music in Bangkok parks alive

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A charity sale of artworks is being held at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. Thirty-six paintings are on display, waiting to be sold to interested buyers, with profits being used to hold Music in the Park concerts in Bangkok all year long.

The art auction keeping music in Bangkok parks alive

Dr Sugree Charoensuk came up with the idea of free concerts as a way of helping Thai musicians suffering hardship due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
 

He told The Nation in an interview that “

When I agreed to hold music events in parks, the main help came from the BMA [City Hall], who provided space and equipment to do so. Secondly, musicians are out of jobs. With no work available, these talented artists have not been able to perform for several years after Covid made things difficult, and the most important thing was where to find income. The BMA has no money, and music is a difficult way to earn income. One of the ways I thought of to help was by inviting my friend to create art. I’ve worked with Dr Suchart for 30-40 years, travelled everywhere with him, and seen his potential for artistic excellence. When he listens to music, he can paint pictures, creating unique value by recording the history of each place, each city, locality, as well as the Bangkok way of life. So, I thought that these paintings could be displayed to the public for sale. After selling them, we will use the money to hold Music in the Park concerts and pay the musicians.”

The art auction keeping music in Bangkok parks alive

Masterminding the exhibition of artwork for sale is Dr Suchart Vongthong, an internationally known artist who picked out his favourite painting from the 36 he created.

“My favourite painting is of Chadchart. The Bangkok governor’s portrait is important because I wanted to capture his goodness as a person. It is harmonious with a power expressed through the colours as well as his face, his smile and expression in the picture. I tried to give it an expressionistic style.”

The art auction keeping music in Bangkok parks alive

The portrait of Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt playing the euphonium is signed by the governor and priced at 10 million baht.

Dr Suchat quipped that if someone buys Chadchart’s portrait at the asking price, he would be able to hold Music in the Park concerts for another year, meaning that musicians left stranded and jobless by Covid-19 could feed their families while Bangkokians could enjoy live melodies in green and pleasant surroundings.

Published : July 22, 2022

By : Stephanie Adair

If I remember ‘Four Days in September’ correctly

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For What Theatre’s daring work is making a highly anticipated Thailand premiere after last year’s European tour

If I remember ‘Four Days in September’ correctly

The fact that For What Theatre’s 2021 work “Four Days in September (The Missing Comrade)” is co-produced by Europe’s leading festivals like Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels), Festival d’Automne a Paris and Wiener Festwochen (Vienna) in addition to 2 other theatres in Oslo and Bobigny is a reason for our celebration. The fact that it took more than a year after the world premiere in the EU capital for the work to have its Thailand premiere this week may remind some Thai people of the fact that our best durians and jasmine rice are exported and not for domestic consumption. 

If I remember ‘Four Days in September’ correctly

As this was the first contemporary Thai theatre experience for many European theatregoers, it’s actually the so-called soft power without spending a single satang of Thai taxpayers’ money. But again, one, or many, may wonder why none of Thai cultural bodies gave support to the tour of this work, the same way their foreign counterparts are doing. Without having to support the whole production as foreign partners were already on board, this would have been an opportunity to show that Thailand is a democratic country, truly not supposedly, which respects freedom of speech and artists’ political commentary as strong as this still receive government support. Instead, our culture ministry chose to spend our tax money by presenting a Nora master on a gondola as part of the opening of the Thailand pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2022 in Venice, which would, a few months. later hold both Biennale Teatro and Biennale Danza.

If I remember ‘Four Days in September’ correctly

In this “Amazing Thailand,” we all know why. 

Frequent laughter made by the audience attending the press preview this Tuesday at Bangkok CityCity the performance area of which is filled with penguin and yellow duck dolls and other colorful floats—so many that we think we’re either vacationing at a beach or joining a political demonstration—also explains why. 

Thanks to my farsightedness due to my age, I spot a mat at stage centre filled with newspaper clippings which were later projected live onto the scrims showing significant political incidents.

This subtle contrast in set, lighting and technical design by Duck Unit is also in line with the overall tone of “Four Days in September” deftly controlled by director Wichaya Artamat. Tracing the history of contemporary Thai politics in four scenes from 1990 to 2032—the last scene takes place 10 years from now—, the content is dead serious, the tone is sanuk (fun) and sabai sabai (chillax)—in other words, appropriately very Thai. Credit here is due also for Wichaya’s co-writer and dramaturg Ratchapoom Boonbanchachoke.

If I remember ‘Four Days in September’ correctly

Five friends—effortlessly performed with their real nicknames by Jaturachai Srichanwanpen, Nualpanod Nat Khianpukdee, Saifah Tanthana, Suranya Poonyaphitak and Witwisit Hiranyawongkul—get together and sings Chit Phumisak’s “Saengdao haeng sattha” at the beginning. They discuss many issues including the mysteriously disappeared Blue Diamond and the roles of two Siam-made canons in the Storming of the Bastille, and more than once reiterate, “If I remember it correctly, then it’s true.” Later when one friend is missing after a gunshot the rest is alarmed but then their search for him is distracted by other matters. In another scene, when they are talking about joining a major demonstration at Sanam Luang on September 19, 2020, they are in fact following it on social media. Then, when these friends are laying the new People’s Party memorial peg, it turns out to be Ouija. One wonders here if Thai people are forgetful or playful, or both.  

If I remember ‘Four Days in September’ correctly

Throughout the 85-minute performance, their actions are monitored, and sometimes manipulated, by a silent character in black attire and mask nonchalantly performed by Sarut Komalittipong. Another major character without any dialogue is an old-style three-blade ceiling fan the birthday of which is celebrated by other characters who repeat that it should be fixed and not replaced. I would rather not elaborate here what it actually represents to make sure that my newspaper would be running my next article next week but instead recommend you watch and enjoy this satirical highlight by yourself.

If I remember ‘Four Days in September’ correctly

Driving home that evening, I was thinking of many international theatre critic colleagues who have been frequently inquiring about Thailand’s politics and how it inspires Thai theatre makers.

I was also recalling the 2015 production of B-Floor Theatre’s “Bang Lamerd” all performances of which were monitored by army officers. Although stage performance is viewed by only a few hundred audiences at a time unlike movies, YouTube, or TikTok, it is important that artists are allowed openly and actively discuss their political views with the audience who may agree or disagree with them. That’s how democracy and contemporary arts function although we need to heavily rely on allusions here to make sure we can get away with it here in Thailand.

“Four Days in September (The Missing Comrade),” in Thai with English surtitles, continues at Bangkok CityCity Gallery in Soi Sathorn 1 (10 minute-walk from MRT Lumphini) until Sunday. Weekdays at 7:30pm and weekend at 4pm. Tickets are Bt 700 (Bt 650 for a group of five or more and Bt 450 for students), available at www.facebook.com/theatreforwhat or email forwhattheatre@gmail.com.

From August 19 to October 22, For What Theatre’s another production “This Song Father Used to Sing” will be presented in 8 cities in 4 European countries, including Noorderson Performing Arts Festival in Groningen and Festival d’Automne a Paris, giving theatregoers another glimpse into contemporary Thai theatre.

By Pawit Mahasarinand
Photo: Anna Van Waeg/Kunstenfestivaldesarts 
 

Published : July 21, 2022

By : THE NATION

Japanese manga : Joker raising a Baby Batman

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No joke: the manga about the Joker as a single dad raising Batman is seriously good!

Japanese manga : Joker raising a Baby Batman

Have you heard about One Operation Joker? If you’re a manga fan active on Japanese Twitter, you might know all about it. It’s a Japanese manga about DC’s Joker serialized in the weekly manga anthology magazine Morning that had a moment in the Japanese social media spotlight when it went viral not too long ago. It’s written by Satoshi Miyakawa and illustrated by Keisuke Gotoh, and has even been officially approved by DC Comics in the U.S.!

In Japanese, the term “wanope” (one operation) refers to a single parent taking on all child-rearing responsibilities. Operation Joker, which currently has two manga volumes out, is a story about the DC villain and superhero, the Joker and Batman. Through an accident, Batman is transformed into a baby, and in a strange turn of events, the Joker decides to raise Baby Bruce into a hero of justice all by himself.

Japanese manga : Joker raising a Baby Batman

If you’re a Batman fan or know anything about the Joker, you’re probably thinking, “What the heck?” but that’s the actual story of the manga. Against the backdrop of a super high-crime Gotham City, the Joker struggles with everyday parenting issues like accidentally buying the wrong diaper size, trying to figure out how to put a sleeping baby down without waking it up, and flipping out when they get hurt at daycare.

That the Joker, Batman’s most notorious enemy, would succumb to the everyday troubles of parenthood is ridiculous. Still, that gap between the Joker we’re familiar with and Dad Joker is what makes this manga so funny. In fact, it was thanks to the manga’s realistic and fresh depiction of parenting that this manga went viral on social media. It probably also got a lot of attention because the first chapter is available to read for free online in Japanese.

Japanese manga : Joker raising a Baby Batman

Volume 1 depicts the Joker’s struggles with being a parent; as he stumbles about trying to learn how to take care of a baby, he also jokes around and doesn’t take it too seriously. By Volume 2, however, he’s gotten the hang of being a single dad, and that’s where we really get to see his fatherly side (yes, even the Joker has a fatherly side!).

And as the Joker becomes more parent-like, so too does Baby Bruce grow. In Volume 1, Baby Bruce plays more of a supporting role, a character used to draw out the conflicts for the Joker. But as the story progresses, Baby Batman transforms from being just a side character into a Super Justice Baby.

Japanese manga : Joker raising a Baby Batman

In the second volume Baby Bruce has grown from an infant to a toddler. He’s walking and going to daycare, and though he can’t speak yet, he’s developed his own method of communication, like how he puffs out his cheeks when he’s happy. The bond he develops with the Joker as he grows up is also extremely touching.

In conclusion, One Operation Joker is a comedy manga that anyone can enjoy, even if you have no interest in or knowledge of Batman or the Joker.

Sadly, it looks like it doesn’t have an English-language translation yet, you might have to wait a bit before it comes out.

Published : July 19, 2022

By : THE NATION

Dancing in your face and lap

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European premiere of Batsheva Dance Company’s “2019” proves why we still need live performance

Dancing in your face and lap

In the spring of 2006, as I was walking towards the BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) building in New York, a man offered me USD 200 in cash in exchange of my ticket for Israeli contemporary dance company Batsheva’s “Mamootot”. Although I could recall paying USD 36 for that ticket, my mom was a math teacher and I had never heard of Batsheva before, I politely declined that offer and instead rushed upstairs to the Hillman Studio and found myself a seat next to a reserved one which was later used by a dancer. That was also my first experience, and an unforgettable one, watching contemporary dance in the theatre-in-the-round configuration.  

In the years that followed, I have watched Batsheva’s other works in Melbourne, Singapore as well as at their home base namely Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre in Tel Aviv. Back home, I was only able to watch “Gaga”, a documentary film that explains the unique dance language and philosophy developed by the company’s choreographer and former artistic director Ohad Naharin–thanks to the screening by the Israeli embassy here.  

Dancing in your face and lap

As I was entering a large theatre complex Le Corum in Montpellier last month, I saw a woman holding a sign. My French is as bad as my Japanese but I could guess that she wanted to buy a ticket for Batsheva’s “2019”, the most sought-after ticket in this 42nd annual edition of Montpellier Danse, a co-producer of this work. I did the same as 16 years ago as my excitement rose.

To the audience’s surprise, although the work was staged at the 1,800-seat Opéra Berlioz, our tickets were marked “placement libre” and we could take either the left or right entrance without having to check if our seat number was odd or even. Once inside, we saw that all audience seats were empty and instead we’re led onto the stage area that was set up with a long and narrow platform, a white curtain and an audience stand with only five rows. Thanks to my nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, I choose one on the front row. 

After a male dancer in stilettos made a pre-show announcement in multiple languages asking us to turn off our mobile phones came another surprise when we found that we’re in a traverse stage configuration and there’s another audience stand opposite to ours.   

Dancing in your face and lap

In more than 70 minutes that followed, Naharin discussed many issues of Israel and the world through his unpredictable choreography and masterly use of the traverse stage which was not frequently used in either dance or theatre and required high mobility. This stage configuration also meant that each member of the audience had a different view of the performance, the same way we do many other things in life, and those on the front row, of course, needed to turn their heads to the left and right more often than others. Also, from any seat we couldn’t see the performance without seeing our fellow audiences.  

Accordingly, his 18 dancers lived up to this special task in which the audience’s gaze came from all angles. A diverse ensemble including two Japanese and one Korean dancers, they were arresting both individually and collectively and didn’t show any sign of exhaustion as they’re putting on two performances of “2019” in an evening. 

In a scene the pace and tone of which highly contrasted with the remainder, a dancer sang “You, Me and the Next War” as others walked into both audience stands, put on their masks, unrolled duvets they kept under our seats and then rested on our laps. Then, a magical moment that was never repeatable occurred. After turning my head around to see what’s happening at different corners of this temporary theatre, my eyes then fixed on five seats away on my row. An elderly woman was gently stroking the hair of a young male dancer in her lap as if he were her grandson. Without understanding a word of Hebrew in the song, my tears poured down my cheeks covered with a mask. A lot has happened in our lives over the past two years and the world is not the same as we knew it and yet, as Yeats wrote, “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met.” 

An Israeli dance critic colleague and poet Anat Zecharia later emailed me the English translation of this song by Hanoch Levin and Maxim Waratt, the first stanza of which was “When we walk along, we are three, You, Me and the Next War. When we sleep, we are three,
You, Me and the Next War.”

Notwithstanding all the efforts during the pandemic to bring live performing arts to our personal screens, “2019” proves that there remain many works that need to be seen in the presence of other audience members and performers and that multiple audience perspectives cannot be captured even by VR technology. Despite all political issues of their home country, Batsheva Dance Company remains her unyielding cultural ambassador. Given their long history at and frequent visits to Montpellier Danse, they can be expected on this shore of the Mediterranean for decades to come. 

More details are at www.montpellierdanse.com and batsheva.co.il/en/home

By Pawit Mahasarinand

Montpellier, France

The writer’s trip was supported by Montpellier Danse. Special thanks to Maiwenn Rebours and Ambre Martin.

Photos: Ascaf
 

Published : July 14, 2022

By : THE NATION

World Film Festival of Bangkok scheduled in December 2022

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Nation Group will organize the screening of the 15th World Film Festival of Bangkok in December after selecting a new director to replace the late Victor Kriengsak Silakong.

World Film Festival of Bangkok scheduled in December 2022

The 15th World Film Festival of Bangkok will be held at SF Cinema CentralWorld from December 2 to 11, 2022


Donsaron Kovitvanitcha, who has selected programmes for several domestic and international film festivals, has been appointed as the new director of the World Film Festival. Donsaron is also an award-winning independent film producer.

World Film Festival of Bangkok scheduled in December 2022

As per tradition, the festival will be hosted by Nation Group’s 51-year-old founding media outlet, The Nation.

Kriengsak SilakongKriengsak Silakong
Thai and international filmmakers had called on The Nation to go ahead with the festival after its long-time director Victor died suddenly on March 27 while preparing for the latest edition.


Victor directed the first 14 editions of the World Film Festival, securing its reputation as an outstanding international showcase for independent films over the past two decades. Victor had been appointed to reboot the festival for the post-Covid era when he died of a heart attack in March, 2022.

Donsaron pledged to do his best to honour Victor’s legacy.


“We’ll try to continue what The Nation and Khun Victor have been doing all along – both in terms of the [festival’s] philosophy of the festival and well-established organisation,” Donsaron said.

World Film Festival of Bangkok scheduled in December 2022
He underlined the festival’s commitment to the full cinematic experience in the “Netflix era” of home viewing, saying world-acclaimed movies are designed to be seen on the big screen.


“And I want to see this festival showcase the Thai movie industry and Thai independent films,” he added.


World Film Festivals of Bangkok had introduced Thais to fascinating cinematic experiences, said Donsaron, but after a hiatus of several years due to Covid-19 it will return with fanfare and grandeur.

World Film Festival of Bangkok scheduled in December 2022

The World Film Festival of Bangkok is Thailand’s largest continuous international film festival. In the previous 14 editions, a selection of films and documentaries from thirty nations on each continent were screened, providing a range of 70–80 film titles annually.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has pledged to support the festival in line with new governor Chadchart Sittipunt’s policy to hold international events in the capital.

World Film Festival of Bangkok scheduled in December 2022

Adisak Limparungpattanakij, Nation Group deputy chairman, met for talks on the festival with BMA deputy governor Sanon Wangsangboon and Chadchart’s chief adviser Torsak Chotimongkol last month.

World Film Festival of Bangkok scheduled in December 2022
Sanon supervises the cultural, tourism, and sports affairs of the BMA.


During the meeting in the middle of June, Sanon and Torsak affirmed that BMA is willing to support various film festivals.

The two noted that the BMA cooperated with the Thai Film Directors Association and the Open-Air Movie Screening Association to organise Bangkok Open Air Movie festival to screen 25 movies on weekends throughout July. The two pledged support for the 15th World Film Festival of Bangkok as well.

World Film Festival of Bangkok scheduled in December 2022

Adisak noted The Nation launched the film festival in Thailand in 1998 as a forum for the international independent film industry.  The World Film Festival has supported members of independent film industries from around the world to be able to meet and exchange views in Bangkok.


The Nation wants to continue the World Film Festival of Bangkok after it was halted in 2017 because of the unsuitable situation and then the pandemic in 2020 and 2021,” Adisak said.


“This time, we have received support from the Thai movie industries and the full backing from the BMA.”


He said SF Cinema, the venue for previous editions, had also pledged support by providing theatres for screenings over the 10 days of the festival.

The 15th World Film Festival of Bangkok will be held from December 2 to 11, 2022 at SF Cinema CentralWorld, which was the venue for the 14th film festival in 2017.
 

Published : July 11, 2022

By : THE NATION