I opened a travel agency so I could teleport back to an imagined gurlhood, a lost destination where I could perform a like gay likay, a corny lakorn to morn an illegible phaghood and paint my fingernails. Costume elements by Iraya Robles. Music by Fong Naam, "Chin" Chinawut Indracusin and K-OTIC.
Intersections and collisions have always trafficked the borders within and across my identities, at times in ways I could never fully understand or communicate. As I have become more able to access and embody presence, trust and fearlessness, verbalizing, externalizing, drawing attention to and moving through these intersections has become the larger objective of my work. As a writer, dancer, visual artist and performer, I am currently experimenting with video as a medium to bridge text and the body moving through space, as an alternative to spoken word and as a tool for creating larger dances and performances.
TOMBOIGATOEYMANGO is one episode in an ongoing drama that documents and complicates notions of authenticity, absence and loss in being mixed race, luuk kreung or half Thai, and within being a trans-identified, queer and gender non-conforming person who desires femme masculinity. What arises, haunts and re-surfaces in these intersections and collisions are the relationships between silence and hunger, and the illegibility and erasure of desire as it relates to colonized desire. Specifically this video speaks to the tension between the pressure to be something I am supposed to be, but about which I know nothing, and the desire to be something completely and utterly unattainable and therefore impossible.
The goals in my process were to see my body moving through space and to move through my relationship to femininity, specifically to untangle it from strict, proper gender roles embedded in being a Thai woman and to reclaim it from a place of empowerment. I wanted to position this process of reclaiming Thai-ness in direct conversation with Thailand's tourism industrial complex and my own sense of being a tourist (an outsider, a foreigner, a farang) to my own (gender and cultural) transformation.
In this video I have begun to investigate the forms of lakorn, or Thai serial soap opera, and likay, or street theater, as well as the collision of classical and popular Thai music. The Thai golden fingernails and the dress made of Thai silk are elements that could signify an "authentic" performance of Thai femininity, but which I re-incorporate as elements of femme drag. I then position this "illusion" of me as a Thai woman against Thai pop music, whose structure and performance appropriates Western influences available through cultural imperialism. These anti-linear borrowings and cross-cultural "thefts" permeate the video as I bring my own ownership over masculinity and femininity, Thai-ness and white-ness, into question.