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spacer Talking to Tania
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



religion & everyday life
Ban Phe
Ban Phe
Ban Phe
Ban Phe
Ban Phe
Ban Phe


Richard Layzell – Talking to Tania 4
Day 6–12 • 6–12 February 2005• Bangkok and Koh Samed

TK I thought this was going to be about one selected day over the two weeks in Koh Samed, like Day 12, for instance?

RL It was. But I’ve been thinking it would be good to cover a few things that have happened over this time span, rather than limit it to one day.

TK So you’re calling the shots now

RL You changed the format for Day 5

TK I suggested it and you agreed

RL Is that what happened?

TK Yes

RL Well, in that case: I’ve had this idea, would you be prepared to try it?

TK I still like the idea of an isolated day as well, treating it like we did Days 1 to 5.

RL But can we try this approach first?

TK What do you have in mind exactly? More information please.

RL It could be a bit like Day 5: I come up with some stories, perceptions or anecdotes and you respond.

TK I’m not feeling very responsive. You’ve been talking about the dialogue or meeting as ‘the work’ and meanwhile neglecting this dialogue with me as ‘work’.

RL Not intentionally

TK Maybe. How about if these stories unfold through the dialogue. I imagine you have a list in mind, but there’s also a lot of background to cover, geography alone.

RL But last time we spoke you proposed isolating key moments and leaving out the background.

TK I know. That was then. Leave it to me. So what’s Koh Samed like?

RL A small island, quite developed, busier at the weekends, people visit from Bangkok. It’s a designated nature reserve, but no walking trails. I’m staying at Ao Prao, very secluded, fairly exclusive.

TK And you’re working, facilitating, like you do on Skyros?

RL Yes. It’s run by Skyros, similar programme.

TK Are you being reticent?

RL It’s Saturday, my day off.

TK Is that the only reason?

RL It’s not been such an easy transition, from relative freedom to position of responsibility. In Greece in July it was the other way round. Our dialogues happened after the ‘job’ had ended. I was let loose.

TK Talk to me

RL Oh…

TK Your resistance as a process, is a process…

RL In the Bangkok Sofitel Hotel lobby (Day 7), at the point of departure, of switching roles, I left the video camera on a table and moved in and out of shot, around elaborate flower arrangements and attentive staff, unnoticed, almost. It was poignant. A parting shot.

TK Or a declaration of intent. Not transition but centrepiece. From here on it all looks different. The flowers were for you, not the punters. The lobby designed for this exact moment, your passing through. The physical and cultural space shifting between objects and people. Know what I mean?

RL It’s taken a while to get back there, five days on the island, with occasional glimpses.

TK Like?

RL Like the heavy elderly German on the beach waving his arms dismissively as I walked around his tripod. He was still there after the swim and I noticed this was no video camera but Super 8, a classic black machine. He told me enthusiastically that “Kodak now guarantee their film for 100 years”. Long enough, long enough.

TK What kind of glimpse was this?

RL Of an authentic relationship to the moving image, a tech talk in tourist land.

TK How about in your teaching, the sensory awareness stuff?

RL It may sound naff

TK Try me

RL I guess the Silent Walk was originally designed for artists [for DIY 1], although the roots of it came from this work. And it’s always memorable in some way.

TK Two details

RL I told them the story of the Japanese ‘moon viewing platforms’, whether it’s truth or fiction, and arranged a line of chairs in the shrinking shade, facing out to sea and trees. We sat alongside each other at the beginning of the walk watching and listening to the leaves falling. So unlike a European autumn: large heavy leaves taking their time, landing on the wooden decking with a distinct thud. I can’t be sure, but I imagine the simple intensity of this experience was enhanced by the other sensory work leading up to it.

TK And

RL Towards the end of the walk we sat on a distant beach, hanging out, silently communicating or not, exploring, sitting, whatever. I’d witnessed the unspoken negotiation that happens between people before [on the walk], but this time I had a sense of the potential aesthetic subtlety of all relationships.

TK I don’t get this

RL It was through the silence. We weren’t clowning around or miming. It was a quiet communication and awareness that seemed almost perfect. We spend so much time struggling with speech that these qualities are maybe drowned out. That was how it looked. Does it make sense?

TK I’m taking it in, silently.

RL Really?

TK Yes…maybe we should stop talking for a while.

[30 minutes later]

RL Ban Phe

TK What?

RL That’s where I’ve just been.

TK Day off, Day 12, Saturday?

RL Off and out, the mainland, with cameras.

TK You sound desperate.

RL After Bangkok the island is a tourist world that I’ve been struggling to find a relationship with. It’s coming.

TK Is this also about psychological space. And do I come into this? I mean we haven’t spoken for days and things were happening in Bangkok, no doubt about it.

RL Yes. Ban Phe was about taking off and talking to you again, even though we didn’t speak directly. It was about reclaiming my identity as an artist or ‘flaneur’ or social freak.

TK One detail

RL I walk off in the intense heat along the main street towards the market and beyond. We’ve been told that Ban Phe consists of one main street. But there’s more, and soon I’m the only Westerner. Hundreds of small white squids are drying in grids on racks. I start to take photographs, or digital images.

TK Meaningful, focussed or documentary?

RL I’m not sure. More important that I’m actually in the process of taking them after a five day gap.

TK Any video?


TK Anything performative?


TK Perceptual?

RL That’s what I’m coming to.

TK Oh, I thought the squids were it.

RL Sorry, just setting the scene. There’s a parallel street behind the main waterside street so I take this and come across a temple complex. Lots of temples in here, and a monastery, very relaxed atmosphere. Gamelan music is being played quite loudly. A group of people are sitting on metal chairs listening to it, I assume. So I join them. A woman brings me cola in a plastic cup and I sit and sip, taking it in. No-one bothers me. I reach for the video camera but can’t do it.

TK Why not?

RL It feels too intrusive. Jerome talked about this in Bangkok. On assignment in East Timor or Banda Aceh there were times when he couldn’t take photos.

TK Is this the moment?

RL Yes, a kind of creative paralysis, and a total sensory absorption.

TK Is it more acute because you’re an alien?

RL Definitely. But I was in Bangkok as well. I can’t see the musicians. The music seems to be amplified. I never see them. A large PA system is transmitting the sound. Another shrine flashes lights on and off like a convenience store. Kids run around. I’m desperate to record at least something of this. But as I walk around I can find nowhere that’s unobtrusive.

TK What kind of record of this can you give me?

RL I couldn’t even record the sound. I guess it could be seen as a kind of template or list of ingredients:

People sitting together, attentive, relaxed, social, drinking
Amplified semi-religious music
Intense colour
Quadrangle of grass
Mopeds parked
Flashing lights
Kids running around
Religion as a part of everyday life
Blurred boundaries, no idea what’s going on

TK Maybe you could find an image to represent it.

RL I’ll try.



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