Jérôme Bel (b. 1964)
Pichet Klunchun and myself (2005)
"In September 2004, I was invited in Bangkok by Singaporean curator Tang Fu Kuen to lead a project. I wondered for a while if I should accept the invitation or not, and I finally proposed to try to work with a traditional Thai dancer.
I am indeed deeply interested in the extra-occidental performing arts traditions, for both dance and theatre, since being dazzled by a Kabuki performance I attended in Tokyo in 1989. I had similar feelings with Indian traditional dance or with the parade of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival.
Tang Fu Kuen suggested to dancer and choreographer Pichet Klunchun that he meets me during my stay in Bangkok in December of the same year. We met without knowing anything about what could finally result from our meeting. I had just prepared beforehand some questions to ask to this dancer. Personally, I had only a vague idea of what traditional Thai dance was, and Pichet Klunchun didn’t know my work.
The circumstances of our meeting determined the nature and the form of the result we obtained. Jet lag, the fascination that the city of Bangkok and its inhabitants exerted on me, the monstrous traffic jams which did not make it possible to do all the rehearsals, the context of the Bangkok Fringe Festival where the piece had to be premiered, led us to present to the audience a kind of theatrical report of our experience.
We happened to produce a kind of theatrical and choreographic documentary on our real situation. The piece puts two artists face to face who know nothing about each other, who have very different aesthetical practices and who both try to find out more about each other, and above all about their respective artistic practices, despite the abyssal cultural gap separating them.
Some very problematic notions such as euro-centrism, inter-culturalism, or cultural globalization, are issues defined all through the piece. These notions which are so delicate to discuss can’t be left out. The historical moment doesn’t allow what is at stake here to be skipped over ".
Jérôme Bel, Seoul, June 1st 2005