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spacer Talking to Tania
Introduction
Dialogue 1
Dialogue 2
Dialogue 3
Dialogue 4
Day 1 01.02.05
Day 2 02.02.05
Day 3 03.02.05
Day 4 04.02.05
Day 5 05.02.05
Day 6–12 06–12.02.05
Dialogue 5
Dialogue 6
Dialogue 7

spacerarrow Dialogue 8
spacerarrow Dialogue 9
spacerarrow Dialogue 10
spacerarrow Dialogue 11
spacerarrow Dialogue 12

 

 

still
Standing v still at temple
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same place
same place
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meeting beckham

meeting Beckham
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Siam Square
Siam Square
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Siam Square
Siam Square

Richard Layzell – Talking to Tania 4
Day 4 • Friday 4 February 2005 • Bangkok, Thailand

RL I shaved for you this morning

TK What?

RL It's Sunday morning, Day 6, thinking of this as a day off, thinking of you

TK Are you ok?

RL Arsenal were superb in the first half against Villa. I watched it live at midnight. Yet not a word in the Bangkok Post this morning. All the other Premiership results were there. Wonder if I dreamt it.

TK Fulham's run ended by Liverpool, that was no dream.

RL I startled the maid this morning, sitting on the floor painting her toenails. We're as silent as each other.

TK What maid?

RL She lives in the apartment. Owners Anita and Araio are away. She's Burmese. We communicate through polite gesture. Ironed some of my clothes. Brings breakfast in with a little bow.

TK How's your bow going?

RL Coming along. Not sure if I can run to the hands together as well.

TK Aren't you uncomfortable being in a misogynistic society?

RL It's not as simple as that. It never is. The maid has had a hard life, husband died of alcoholism. She seems happy here and supported by this family. The city's a regional hub of wealth and power. Women have a degree of independence here. It's being a white, male Westerner on the street that I find harder.

TK The dominant global power?

RL Not me personally of course, but yes, I guess that's it. I also think we look awkward, big-boned, pink and ugly.

TK Sounds like you've acclimatised. What about your dress code?

RL That definitely helps. I'm glad we talked about this in advance. Until today I've worn long trousers, shirt and shoes, which has distanced me from the 'white trash' as Martha called them on Friday night.

TK Martha?

RL Sorry, leaping ahead.

TK Leaping back more like. Get sequential.

RL Maybe

TK Do you want to make this a two day dialogue then?

RL I don't know. What do you want?

TK To lighten up. To dip in and out. Bits and pieces. This is not a blog, never was. I suggest we start with Day 4, Friday. Thinking of today as a day off, is that what's changed your attitude?

RL Probably. If I was considering this as Day 6 there'd be an underlying pressure to get on with it.

TK Keep thinking of it as a day off then. Where are we?

RL Day 4. It must have been Day 3 that I started thinking about the British Council, Bangkok office. I talked to Varsha about it, rang them and arranged a meeting for the morning of Day 4.

TK Is this interesting? Were you networking or going through the motions? Were you being an Englishman abroad?

RL All those. But knowing how much they're doing culturally in China at the moment I thought I'd see what the opportunities were, and also treat it as a 'meeting as artform', a precursor to the kind of meetings you and I will be having with curators and organisations later in the year.

TK Nice. Did you have a clear aim, a check list in the brain?

RL Should have. Almost.

TK Don't let me down when it's our turn.

RL No

TK Really

RL I know

TK I'm not into lost opportunities

RL I know, I know.

TK Do you think we could show in Bangkok, was that part of it?

RL Must have been at the back of my mind.

TK And?

RL My meeting was with Mallika, the arts manager, they don't have a specialist visual art person. We were at 254 Chulalongkorn on Soi 64, back of Siam Square in Pathumwan, by the way.

TK Ok, ok

RL We had almost an hour, sitting at a 'break-out' table in the open plan office. It was very straightforward and also very complex. The essence of meeting as artform.

TK You sound smug.

RL Not at all. It wasn't successful or unsuccessful. I was pleased to have some occasional flashes of awareness during it, about you, me, it (the meeting) and the British Council. It was white shirt day and that put me on an appropriate level. It wasn't till I'd left the building that I realised it also had something to do with my age. I think it made a positive contribution.

TK That makes a change. About time you stopped feeling apologetic about it. I see it as an asset.

RL I was content to inhabit Richard Layzell at this exact point in time. It's often easier when I'm out of the UK.

TK Possibilities?

RL A possible performance / lecture about us or a residency, nothing concrete. There are very few gallery spaces here. Many of the artists are on the fringe, activists of different kinds. Performance has suited their practice, like Chumpon Apisuk. Alistair Maclennan gave me his email address but it bounced back. Varsha put me in touch with him, and I went to see him in the afternoon.

TK What about the transition, the transitory space between meetings. If meeting becomes artform, how does the awareness stack up on either side?

RL That's what you've been encouraging me to focus on. it comes and goes. I wouldn't say it's a continuum, but I'm working on it. I sat near the British Council for some time, fairly invisible, with the video camera aiming fairly haphazardly but with the external mike fitted. This was about sound more than image. Either side of the meeting with Chumpon I moved slowly through the BIG C, a landmark shopping mall, reminiscent of Midland in Perth, again with the listening camera. It borders the building where he lives and works, Concrete House.

TK And he's an activist?

RL Definitely. Has been involved with HIV projects, then the sex industry, offering free education to sex workers. His wife set up Empower Foundation in 1985, which they both work for. Now it's the tsunami. Their next project is to support devastated communities in the south, through art projects. He mentioned support for this project from an artist in Scotland who he'd met at an Aids conference in Bangkok. It was Alex Flett. We were postgraduate students together. Had lost touch with him. I wondered what support I could give, we could give, Stroud Valley Arts even.

TK You've talked more about experience and perception than 'making' in Day 4. Is this a fair picture?

RL There is another link to Stroud Valley Arts. When I was taking the last set of photos of the studios I felt a strong urge to return and take photos for me, as art. Nothing original in this, but a slight shift for me.

TK Appropriate one. It's the play between the client and the artist and who comes first. I thought when you worked at AIT (as a visionaire) one of the directors said you were one of the most client-focused people in the company. I get concerned that this takes over sometimes.

RL Well, you're not like that.

TK Definitely

RL So it came back to me on Day 4, and I took a few photos with the intention of them being art rather than to support our dialogues or as documentation. I don't know what it means yet, exactly what the differentiation is, but it's going on. What's your view?

TK I like hearing you talk about yourself, rather than your obsessions or your obligations. The clearer you are, the easier our project is going to be. It didn't have to be Bangkok that did this. You should work on finding a way to maintain it as fully as this when you're back in the UK. Check in with me if you like. I know what it's about. That's why you're working with me.

   
 
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