Talking to Tania
|Richard Layzell – Talking to Tania 4|
Day 1 • Tuesday 1 February 2005 • Bangkok, Thailand
TK Not me
TK You know what I'm saying?
TK It's open, I don't have an issue with your stream of consciousness
RL I wish I'd had the camera handy in the taxi from the airport
TK Why didn't you? And does it matter? Another kind of description counts as much
RL It was one of many billboards, designed to be read from a car, a luxury detached house on the American model, with a large car and a small car parked out front, the ideal home has become global. But later I found out that Bangkok used to be full of detached houses like this, especially in Sukhumvit.
TK Who told you?
TK Who's Varsha?
RL Varsha Nair. You remember, I met her at the NRLA in Glasgow last year. She lives here. That's where I was headed in the taxi, to her apartment. I thought we'd talked about this.
TK I remember. We talked about how this one might be different again, not just the dialogue but what we work on. That the manifestations might be minimal. That my role can change. That the event can be in the 'meeting', or an act of perception, like your Exchange Project in West Bromwich last week. You said the time in Bangkok would be partly about meeting local artists.
RL And I wasn't sure where the 'work' would come.
TK Didn't you have these anxieties in Barcelona? Is that why those dialogues haven't apeared yet?
RL Not really. It's because they've become retrospective, and other things have taken priority. In the end the work did happen but it was different, maybe more subtle.
TK It was supposed to be. That's how it evolved. Where does our dialogue fit in this time? I don't mind if we just converse, if you use me as a sounding board, whatever, so long as you're thinking, and super-conscious. So long as this one doesn't become retrospective, that Andrew is at the other end and they actually APPEAR close to the date in question. Barcelona happened over three months ago.
RL I know. I'm planning to send these off the next day, like in Skyros. It's only Thursday, and we're discussing Tuesday. The time difference adds to it.
TK The jet lag?
RL That, and being seven hours ahead.
TK Any culture shock?
RL A bit, but that's why I wanted to make contact with local artists.
RL Yes, but she'd also emailed to say she was going to invite some artists around for dinner on Wed evening (Day 2). When I arrived she told me she'd had to change it, they were on their way, Keiko was already there.
TK So you walked into a party.
TK And in terms of process, work or awareness?
RL I'm not sure
TK Unpick, go on
RL It was about staying awake partly. And challenging my preconceptions. It was an international group, a Thai whose first language was Laotian and whose partner was French, two Indians who'd lived in the UK, an Australian, a Japanese, two more Thais and me. Engilsh was the common language. English we spoke, not for my benefit.
TK Were you performative at all?
RL I don't know the difference any more, not consciously. But it did feel like work, perceptual work, the potential basis for the coming days, for eye-opening, for hearing about meterosexuals and how 70 per cent of young Thai men spend more than half an hour in front of the mirror in the morning.
TK Are these the meterosexuals?
RL Yes. Keiko's view was that Thailand is leading the way with a new kind of identity for men.
TK This is feeling more like 'Notes from Australia'
RL Yes. So what would your view of the day be then?
TK This is why you're here, for both our advancement. Don't close any doors, especially around me. I'm not who you think I am. Bangkok is not the issue, it's the emerging dialogue that matters. Anyone can go to Bangkok, especially after the Tsunami I imagine.
RL I'm really struggling with all these ugly single Western men walking around with young Thai girls.
TK Feel exposed?
RL Implicated, on the periphery of mutual exploitation, confused.
TK So does it simplify things that I've become a dyke?
RL I suppose it does.