Tim Etchells on performance: Cambodia’s beat goes on

Tim’s written a column for the Guardian about his experience at FCP. Great distillation of the intensity of this period, and the insights we gained there:

“What I sensed in the younger artists and dancers we worked with, though, was a desire to move forwards with the past, and not to retreat into it. These Cambodian twentysomethings are savvy and hungry… They know that they’ll need new approaches in the arts, and new political voices to meet the challenges ahead.”

There’s also some praise for FCP itself:

“Highly organised and efficient on one hand, Flying Circus also courts a creative openness that at times borders on chaos. The logic for Keng Sen is that the encounter must have its own energy, that the group itself must conjure something new from the situation. An approach like this takes time and nerve, but it undoubtedly pays off.”

Read the whole thing here. It’s worth it.


Flying Circus Animals (Part 3)

And it’s a wrap! Below are the foreign perpetrators involved in this month’s shenanigans. Survey them and click on their connections.

Also, if you want to hop ahead to our actual interactions in Cambodia, click here. If you want to read about Kutlug Ataman’s visit and Musee de la Danse, click here.

ZULKIFLE MAHMOD, artist, Singapore

NELISIWE XABA, dancer-choreographer, South Africa

TAY TONG, producer, Singapore

ASHOK SUKUMARAN, artist, India

FILIZ SIZLANI, choreographer-dancer-performer, Turkey

JECKO SIOMPO, choreographer, Indonesia

ESZTER SALAMON, artist in dance and performance, Hungary/Germany

MANUEL PELMUS, choreographer, Romania

ONG KENG SEN, director, Singapore

ANDY LIM, technical manager/lighting designer, Malaysia/Singapore

JASMINE LEONG, student/production assistant, Singapore

MUSTAFA KAPLAN, performer, choreographer, Turkey

JANEZ JANŠA, artist and writer, Croatia/Slovenia

JANEZ JANŠA, conceptual artist, Italy/Slovenia

HU FANG, curator/writer, China

VLATKA HORVAT, artist, Croatia/USA

HOO KOO CIEN (KC), project manager, Singapore

HAFIZ DHAOU, dancer-choreographer, Tunisia

TIM ETCHELLS, artist, writer, performance maker, UK

GURUR ERTEM, artistic director, Turkey

HEMAN CHONG, artist, Singapore

AIRAN BERG, theatremaker, artistic director, Israel/Austria

TAREK ATOUI, sound artist, Lebanon

Hey, I’m still updating…

FCP ’09 is over and I have a shitload of projects to finish up, so I’m going to be a little slow on the final touches of this blog record: adding the images and video to the Superintense documentation, as well as adding the interviews with visiting artists.

By the way, I shifted the visiting artist interviews over to the month of October 2009, just so people can read the interviews separately from the log of events in FCP 09/10. Crude, I know, but it works for tidiness. All the interviews were in fact done in January 2010.

I’m feeling a bit guilty that I didn’t interview any of the participants in the same way. But just to get a perspective of what was going on in Cambodia, this is what the dancers were doing the first day we met them:

…and the day we left:

Yay for globalised late capitalist postmodernity!!!

Flying Circus Animals (Part 2)

A recap of the main participants and facilitators who were with us in Cambodia. (Note to the Cambodians: I am not insulting you by calling you animals!!! I made the same joke about the mostly European artists who were in Singapore as part of the Flying Circus Project in November.)

The brackets indicate which of the two main groups of participants the person was affiliated with. In the case of the Bophana participants, most do not actually work for Bophana.

The visiting artists’ profiles are soon to come. Please let me know about any errors I’ve made below.

CHAN NIMITH, dancer (Amrita Performing Arts)

CHAN SOVANNARA (NARA), translator (Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre)

CHEY CHANKETHYA, dancer (Amrita Performing Arts)

CHAN LIDA, research analyst (Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre)

CHENG SAM ATH, (Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre)

CHATH PIERSATH, painter/writer (Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre)

CHUMVAN SODHACHIVY (BELLE), dancer (Amrita Performing Arts)

CHY RATANA (LEAK), dancer (Amrita Performing Arts)

DIM VITOU (TOU), dancer (Amrita Performing Arts)

EAM DANY, dancer (Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre)

FRED FRUMBERG, director (Amrita Performing Arts), USA

HANG BORIN, dancer (Amrita Performing Arts)

HEM LINDA, dancer (Amrita Performing Arts)

ANDERS JIRÅS, photographer, Sweden

KEO SUKUNTHY, tourism and languages lecturer (Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre)

RATHANY KOH, editor/technician (Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre)

KUN SOTHA, painter/dancer (Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre)

TOLA LEANG, project officer (Bhopana udiovisual Resource Centre)

NGET RADY, dancer (Amrita Performing Arts)

NORM NARIM, dancer (Amrita Performing Arts)

VANNSAN NOU, NGO worker (Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre)

OUN BATHAM (SAI), filmmaker/student, (Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre)

PHON SOPHEAP, dancer (Amrita Performing Arts)

PRUM SEILA, translator (Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre)

SAO RITHY, dancer (Amrita Performing Arts)

SENG CHUMNIT, dancer (Amrita Performing Arts)

SENG KALIVANN, dancer (Amrita Performing Arts)

SIEN SOKUNTHAE, assistant programming director (Amrita Performing Arts)

SUM SITHEN, filmmaker (Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre)

SUON BUN RITH (RITH), programme director/translator (Amrita Performing Arts)

TITH CHANDARA (DARA), translator (Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre)

KANITHA TITH, artist/filmmaker (Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre)

NARITH TITH (POWER), tour guide/photographer, (Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre)

YON CHANTHA, dancer (Amrita Performing Arts)


The following few pages will be about the artists’ presentations in Singapore.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

(Above is a cap from a video work by Vlatka Horvat. I’ve forgotten the title, though.)

Again, if you want to hop ahead to our actual interactions in Cambodia, click here.

If you want to read about Kutlug Ataman’s visit and Musee de la Danse, click here.


Final act!!!  And he’s doing his “Undrum” piece, in a context where people can actually understand the Chinese Cultural Revolutionary trial samplings!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Damn, he’s really digging away.  There’s some definite variation from the first iteration in Phnom Penh; of course the space here is all different; so expansive, the audience sitting in chairs rather than the floor, and a whole hour of time to play with.  He’s really having fun, gritting his teeth and waving his hands and feet and pummeling at the keyboard, tongue out in concentration, playing, playing his song.

Combined with all the noise – beeps, whistles, deep rumblings of machinery, piow-piow-piows of gunnery – it sure looks like he’s playing a video game.

UPDATE: Awww. He’s dedicated a tribute, on behalf of all the artists, to the organisers at TheatreWorks who put everything together: KS, TT, KC, Jasmine, Andy and all.

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There were gifts, too. I believe they got chocolates.

Now it’s time to party.

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We had some chicken rice catered for the hungry, but they didn’t touch it much while I was there. (For me, after so much Cambodian food, it was heavenly.)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

They were still dancing at 3:30 am, so I went home. G’nite everybody!


Reprise of “Plasticization”, her bunny solo, this time in the flesh!  Photos forthcoming!!!

UPDATE: Oh yeah baby.

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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Also a screening of the beginning of “The Venus”: her white sailboat dress opening to form a flower, then the dancer turning herself upside-down to become the two green high-heeled legs kicking from a bell of white.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


AS: Can you name some examples where you learn from failure?

KS: I think it’s more important to talk about hollow successes, like if people like it, and you feel it should be aa success, but you feel strangely hollow. And it seems those are because it didn’t mean anything for yourself. It was just a formula, it was just for show. And that’s when your ealise you’ve lost connection with yourself. You’re just doing something you have to do, you’re not dong it for yourself.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

AS: Is there such a thing as an Asian punk? I don’t think there is. If you imagine going to Cambodia, did we see any punks there, those who are exiting the teacher student relationship, and is that a positive thing?

KS: I think in Cambodia there was no Asian punk. And I think for me, “punk” is about resistance attitude, and it’s related to some form of self-expression, and I feel that in Cambodia, I may be wrong, because I don’t live there, but I feel very often there is not so much self-expresison. And in Singapore there are reistances and there are attitudes of separating oneself or separating the group from mainstream art expressions or even avant-garde or experimental art expressions. I think there is in Singapore but even then it could be just a, not a fashion but it could be…

AS: Rather hollow.

KS: It becomes another expression.

AS: Could you diescirbe TheatreWorks’ relationship ith popular culture? As an organisation, with let’s say music or comic books. Is this something you’ve been trying to develop or trying to engage with?

KS: I think that we work with a  lot of young Singaporean artists and Singaporean designers, and they collaborate with us in different ways, sometimes through residencies here, we also opened up the space 12 times a year when we provide this space free for people to use it. But I think TheatreWorks remains quite unpopular in Singapore because quite often the public doesn’t always understand what we’re doing with this space, because we don’t really rent it out, we don’t have ticketed performances, we do things like this, and there are quite strong statements especially from the people in power that we are too much working with artists and not so much with the public.

AS: And that’s seen as somehow anti-populist?  But does that apply to other places you work with? Not necessarily?

KS: in Singapore I think art has a very specific function. I think of Manuel when he’s dancing in the dark. I think when this is played in a European city, there’s a sense that what he’s doing in the dark is important, you’re craning to see wheat’s he’s dong. And in Singapore, I think art is very much about communication these days, and very much about function. So if something’s happening in the dark like that, it’s like, “What’s this got to do with me?” So there is an immediate loss of interest to connect. And it goes back to, not so much audience, but it goes back to the role of art in society.

By the way, KS only just reminded us: we’ve crossed the midnight mark!  It’s Sunday!!!


TE: I’m not going to give any explanation of my text. If you use google you can find all the information about me that I’m not telling you.

He does three pieces, including the immortal Starfucker!

Other lines include “Jack Nicholson jerking off to the underwear section of the home shopping catalogue”, “Jennifer Lopez suffering from jet lag”, “Bridget Fonda covered in blood”, and “Denzel Washington in a  halo of paparazzi flashes.”  And that’s just the tame stuff.  (This also exists as a video, the above image of which is a screengrab.  The video was previously presented in Singapore at the M1 Fringe Festival.)

The other two pieces are fragments – a story about metaphors and masochists including the tale of Jesus and the Laundromat, written for Barbara Campbell who commissioned such stories to be performed by herself over the Internet for 1001 consecutive nights.  The last piece was never performed – it’s a list of 100 categories of stories, wiht personal notes.

e.g. 10. stories where the start is much better than the end.

14. stories about escaping from physical imprisonment.

15. stories about a cat that has only got three legs.

43. stories about men who are building a road or stories about men who are building a bridge.

45. children’s stories. I like these.

46. stories that take place between two World Wars.

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48. stories which are told by a person sitting on a toilet. I’m not sure if there are many of these.

62. stories about Cambodia.

66. stories set in England. This worries me.

67. stories about evil.

68 racist stories

69. stories about the extraordinary things that people can do with their bodies.

98. stories which fall into several categories

99. stories which do not fall into any category, or which fall between categories.

100. stories about absence


Dammit. Didn’t get good photos of his performance – none of the jacket with hand-puppets of the bunny and the elephant; only a few blurry ones with him with the melancholy bass music, undulating his belly, attempting to climb the walls and whirling around the assembled audience.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I did, however, get some shots of the two videos he showed afterwards, getting us to turn our chairs 180 degrees: stylo-milo young people triumphantly grabbing motorcycle helmets, forming amazing human sculptures and then collapsing on each other; proletariats kung-fu fighting each other to death but refusing when killed to actually die.

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