VDO installation & research materials of the forthcoming film “Boundary”
by NONTAWAT NUMBENCHAPOL
Thai filmmaker-artist Nontawat Numbenchapol opens his solo show “DIG” on display are a video installation and research materials of his forthcoming film “Boundary”. The artwork features his last year’s research in Sri Saket, border of Thailand and Cambodia, where then faced to the conflict on Preah Vihear.
13 - 29 September 2010 - In the process of data collecting at Roi Et Province in the Northeastern part of Thailand
Roi Et is a province in the Northeastern region of Thailand, 600 kilometers far from Bangkok. Most area of this province are rice field. In September, it is the beginning of winter in that province. The harvesting season has yet to come. Most area are still green. All the farmers wait for the rain so their crop would be plentiful, but sometimes there are marshland. The villagers have to use boats to get out from their house to the road. The water flooded on the field glitters in sunny afternoon, reflects the blue sky with some white clouds.
Not far from there, on the rice field in the appropriate landscape, the field was so green in the end of the rainy season. The afternoon sunlight shined on the top of the green rice leaves that is swaying in the wind. The elderly people sat leisurely in a small hut. Some of them cooked. A girl was waiting for someone. At the other side of the field, a cow and her calf was fawning on each other. Every creature around here were taking a rest, waiting through the slow passing time until the green field turn into gold color. That would be the time everyone harvest the crops.
A body led the camera from the sunny field to the side of the hut to the shady area under the big tree. Leaves from the tree fell down. The leaves was sparkling on the ground. In front of that, a young boy, around 20-years-old was holding tools in his hands. He walked on the laterite road. At the side of the road, there were electricity posts with loudspeakers on them. The village headman was telling every villagers via that loudspeakers to welcome the film crews who will film in this village next week. The boy stops at a place at the end of the field. The place had a square shape. There was a wooden house unfinishedly built. Next to the house, there was a tree as tall as the building of two storeys. On the tree, there were few leaves. The boy walked and stopped at the tree. He put down his tools. He picked a leave from the bucket. He bound the rope, coated the glue and stuck the leaves onto the tree leave by leave. We had a conversation.
The boy’s name is Aod. He is 24-years-old. He was a workman who can do anything. The art-crew of the film hired him to build the set. Today’s work was to stick leaves onto the trees for setting. The wage was 500 baht a day, but his boss took 250 baht from him. He told me that before he worked here; he used to be a soldier in Naratiwat, which is a province in the Southern region of Thailand. He had to leave his hometown in Sisaket province and go to the southern which is dangerous from the unrest. Bombs are usually goes off. Most of the dead victims are policemen. “Do you think all the protracted problems in the South rooted from the titanic amount of expenditure from the government to solve the problems?”, I asked Aod. He answered, “Maybe. I once saw the army’s armory. The weapons in there can easily use for terrorizing the whole area. When the red shirts protested in April, I was a soldier and I received order to disperse the mob. I fired at the sky. I was in the front. I observed at the protesters whether they were armed or not. If they are armed, I must charge them and snatch the weapon. The position I was in was the one who die first. The position behind me was medical officer.” I asks him, “You said you fired at the sky, but there were 91 deceased!” Aod answered me, “At the time that many people died from the dispersion operation, I was discharged from the army a week before that. 4 juniors in army were killed. Most of the soldiers were from the Northeastern. The protesters were the Northeastern. They didn’t want to kill each other.” During our conversation, Aod wrote something on the red soil. I asked him what he had just written. He answered “Tor-Ror-Ror”. It is a word in Khmer language. The meaning of it is “Why do that?” I was surprised that he can speak Khmer language. He answered that Sisaket province is close to Cambodia. Almost everyone from that province can speak Khmer language. So, I told him that I was going to shoot a documentary about three classes in Thai society. I am interested in him and his hometown and I want him to guide me to various places in Sisaket and Cambodia. Aod was Okay with that. “But if you want me to take you to Cambodia, you must return here before 6 pm, or you could be killed if you are still at the border at that time.”,He tells me. I smiled and thanked him. “Can you give me your number?”, I smiled and knew in my heart that I had got my subject.
- Space 1/2 @ Messy Shop, Bangkok, Thailand