Tuesday, October 18, 2005

CHUMPON APISUK's “Five Actions of Body Performance”, Performance Artist from Thailand

Portrait of Chumpon Apisuk

The eight and the last performance was from the man himself Chumpon Apisuk with his piece “Five Actions of Body Performance”. Apisuk, in a playful manner, explained and acted out the five actions of body performance by touching his nose with his hand, his ear with right hand, his finger with another finger, his toes with his fingers and finally, touching his mouth by inserting a finger. Here, the artist seemed to be in a whimsical mood with humor on his lips, thus diffusing the heavier atmosphere created by the preceding performances.

The presence of Apisuk as a person evokes gentleness and compassion, a profound man who, at the heights of his success, remains humble and modest of his achievements in the artworld. Born on the 7th of November 1948 in Nam, a Northern Province in Thailand, he studied art in Changsilpa School, Silapakorn University in Bangkok and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. His involvement on social issues such as AIDS and Human Rights works, and the rights of sex workers in Thailand under the EMPOWER FOUNDATION, founded by his wife Chantawipa Apisuk, made him one of the powerful voices in his country.

In 1993, he founded an art space called the Concrete House, a popular venue for performance art in Thailand. He is also the founder and the director of “Asiatopia”, an Asian Performance Art in Bangkok hosting a regular festival for local and international artists. Apisuk has been promoting performance art since the ‘80s making him one of the well known and important performance artists in Asia. From 1996 onwards, he has been performing in Germany, England, Quebec, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, USA and Korea.

In 1998, his audio installation titled “ALIVE – a conversation with a friend living with HIV” was selected for exhibition at the Sydney Biennial and, almost at the same time, he was invited to speak at Asia and Pacific Triennial in Brisbane. His essay on the contemporary art movement in Thailand titled “Politic of Art in Thailand” was published in “Art Action, 1958-1998” by inter/editeur, Quebec.

As a Thai artist, Apisuk can be mistaken as a Filipino and his affinity with Filipino friends made him feel like one. In fact, on his way to Manila, a female tourist asked him from the airplane if he was a Filipino, he was quick to respond “I am...” That is Chumpon Apisuk, a man who feels not restricted by geographical distances or cultural differences, a man who belongs to any society or country for that matter, and a man whose passion for art and social causes made an immeasurable difference in his country and in other parts of the world.

chumpon 04
Chumpon Apisuk at Asia on the Road i RoskildeFoto: Wahidur Rahman Khandkar Czhoton.

©Danny C. Sillada 2005. UGNAYAN Journal


r. streitmatter-tran said...

I love the last andectode about Chumpon, which is much like my own experience with him. He was very much at home during his presentation about Asiatopia to Vietamese artists several months ago. I look forward to seeing him again next month in Bangkok for Asiatopia. I hope to see you there too?

rob moonen said...

Dear Danny,

just read your article on Chumpon.
I met him 6 years ago and would like to get in touch with him. Do you by any chance have his e-mail address or could you forward this message to him?

Thanks and best regards

Rob Moonen