Tuesday, January 03, 2012

PostHeaderIcon ACC Fellowship Diary 2011 (1)

Asian Cultural Council Fellowship Diary 2011

Travel to New York
My fellowship started on 5th of April, 2011. It was my first in the United State. I arrived at JFK in the afternoon around 5 pm. An assigned driver from ACC picked me up. I came with 2 luggages. The driver is an Indian who lived in Italy and then moved to New York since about 15 years ago. He tried to ask me in many things, but I’m more exciting to see the city. The taxi from JFK to the place I will stay took about an hour. Most of the time, we drove through high way. I could not see how the city looks like until we came close to Great Jones Street, the place where I stayed. I saw people walked on street and shops. I seems really lovely city to me.

I visited ACC office the first time a day after that. I met many staffs there. I couldn’t remember everyone at the first day, but I could feel that everyone was so friendly. I met Marlene there. Marlene was really warm Italian lady who took care of me about accommodation, money and also suggested me to visit big market in Flashing.

The fellowship program and new life began!
I began my fellowship by participated in a Print Installation Workshop which leaded by Thai Artist, Prawat Laocharean at his place and studio at 7 Great Jones Street. However, we spent most of the time to produce our works at Prawat’s Studio at Horace Mann School in Bronze where he works as a full time lecturer. The school was really wealthy to me since they provided professional rooms and equipments to learn fine arts, photography, music and sports. Other facilities in the school were highly standard. There were 7 artists who participated in this workshop. 3 artists came from oversea (New Zealand, Hawaii, Thailand (Me)) stayed at Prawat’s place and the rest came from New York City. During the workshop, we have one day off for retreat. Prawat drove us to visit Storm King Art Center and Dia: Beacon somewhere outside New York City. It was really great experience to me. The workshop took about 2 weeks included an exhibition at a Hall in Horace Man School. It was small exhibition, but it was really warm feeling. Among the other guests, there were Margaret, an ACC staff and ACC artists visited the exhibition as well as a group of Thai Artist Alliance in New York who we planned to work together for a show in summer time. I met Margaret the first time after correspondence for many months via email with her since an announcement from ACC that I received a grant to stay in New York. It was a great welcome from her and other ACC artists. We went to a Japanese restaurant “Sharaku “together around St Mark area after the opening. 

I moved to live at ACC apartment at 100 John Street room 2708 on April 19th. Marlene came with me to the place and gave me some orientation of the room. It was a great home of me and enough space to work as well. Margaret arranged a gathering lunch for ACC grantee at ACC office on April 25th. I had a chance to meet other ACC grantees and staffs. There were Tina Yee-wan Pang, Phoebe Hui, Go Hirasawa and ex-ACC grantee, Don Salubayba. Go and Phobe lived in the same apartment building as me which allow us to interact to each other easier. I and Go became really good friend through our interest in moving images and other political point of view.

 

I started to contacted friends I know in New York. I met Rene Smith who was a guest lecturer in Chiang Mai 2 years ago. Her husband is a librarian at MoMA which allow me to visit MoMA for free of charge. She also put me in contact with a film programmer “Matthew Freundlich” at office “Exit Arts”. Exit Arts is a large art space that has also a digital cinema in Chelsea. The Film programmer was looking for a possibility to find an interesting film from Thailand to show. We discussed a lot about the Thai short film program, but as the limited of budget and market, we show only one feature film from Thailand. Anyway, I was really successful. As he wrote me an email “The screening was easily one of the most successful nights we've had on many accounts, and I mean it when I say that it would not have happened without you.  First and foremost, I have Som to thank for informing me about Tannia's film, lending me a screener, introducing me to the other three of you, translating my email messages to Tannia, and being a very patient collaborator as my initial plans for a Thai cinema series gradually whittled to a single screening.” Besides Rene also introduce me to an art space/ artist in residence where I can cook Thai dinner for guests and then present my works at Flux Factory on June 9th.

I met Karen Demavivas, NYFA Program Officer of the Immigrant Artist Project. She was many years in Chiang Mai, Thailand with Fulbright grant for her research and we started to be a good friend since then. She supported me in many ways while I stayed in New York by visiting most of my public activities. She also interviewed me for an IAP Newsletter and put information of my solo show and as well as spread the information through her office network. She introduces me to another interesting organization “Asia Artist Alliance” that shares the same office space as her.

I visited Ryan Schlief‘s office at Witness. I worked with Witness in Chiang Mai to support and produce a video of their video workshop. Witness is a video training office for human right in Brooklyn. Besides, I visited Linda Saphan at her place. She is a Cambodian artist who went on to graduate from the University of Paris in 2007 with a PhD in Social Anthropology and a BA in Khmer Studies. I met her once in Cambodia and keep contact with her in several matter via email. She did a lot of supporting activities for young Cambodian artists while she stayed there. Surprisingly, her husband is an Italian filmmaker who produces a film “Sleepwalking Through The Mekong”. The film is a documentary of American-Cambodian rock band “Dengue Fever”. He is in editing process of his new film “Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock And Roll”. I’m looking forward to show it in “Lifescapes” Southeast Asia Film Festival which I organize it with other 2 colleagues at Payap University, Chiang Mai. I contact an old friend, Att Poomtangon who also studied with me in the same Faculty at Chiang Mai University. He was rewarded a one year travel and studio grants in New York from Hessische Kulturstiftung, Germany. Luckily, his apartment is in TriBeCa where is not far from my apartment. It made things easier to see us sometimes.  
In addition, I’m also in good contact with Thai Artists who live in New York. Thai Artist Alliance is a collective of Thai artists, architects, designers, photographers, filmmakers and design administrators. Most of them just graduate or study in a school in New York. Some of them work as professional in their field. They planned to organize an art exhibition for Thai artists who live in New York by selecting the art work from application. I was one of 6 juries who select the works to show. They also invited July to show the art work in the same exhibition as well. We exhibited the works at Invisible Dog on Bergen Street in Brooklyn on July 28-31, 2011. In April after I met them, I asked them to join the closing party of an exhibition by Rirkrit Tiravanija at Gravin Brown Enterprise in Chelsea. Rirkrit is a well-known Thai artist who lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand and New York. He is a fulltime lecturer at Visual Arts Department at Columbia University. I introduced the Thai Artist Alliance to Rirkrit and also explained them how importance of his art works in the recent contemporary art world. It seems a great start for my first month.

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