Besides the usual sound-based performances in regular art places, I try now and then to initiate tiny collective interventions in public spaces with other trans* women. Since the end of 2012, I have been learning about gender+noise+ritual in Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Indonesia, Germany and Spain, looking at the role trans-feminine people have in their society and the ‘lives’ available to them. If these societies still practice traditional rituals, I tried to learn about how they include/exclude the trans-feminine person, their roles in these rituals, its evolution and the reasons why (ie. syncretism, wars, change of rulers, internal colonization, external colonization, trans* feminine persons taking power away from women). These researches lead mostly to no concrete outcome, but on a few special occasions, they have lead to some our unexpected artistic collaborations in the form of the afore mentioned public intervention.
Till now, I have collaborated with Kandy Zyanide (สุกุล ดงน้อย) who works at the Chiang Mai Cabaret, a trans* only cabaret performing nightly for mainly foreign tourist, this performance intervention happened in the beginning of 2013 at the end of a regular night’s spectacle at the Chiang Mai Cabaret. Subsequently, together with Nguyễn Thiện Phúc (Vy) and Jenny Quỳnh Phương (Sam), we did an intervention in the streets of Saigon where the duo used to work every night performing fire shows to the soundtrack of Gungnam Style in the middle of the road for the general public having their dinner at one of the road side eating places. Their job is deemed completely illegal there in Vietnam, but it is one of the few living options available to them at that time. For our collaboration, I was asked to ride through the streets with them while they were working and instead of putting on Gangnam Style, that night I would improvise my music to support their performance, the outcome was quite a life altering collective experience for all of us involved, including the ‘audience’ who started accumulating as we did more performances through the night, they followed us on their motorbikes to the subsequent locations of our performances. This culminated at an open air beer garden in what felt like a long long way from the city and it was where most of the other ‘soundsystems’ would meet after finishing their night’s work. Following that in 2015, I collaborated with Mami Fitri, a bissu person who directs a bissu-only dance/theater troupe in Bone on the island of Sulawesi, what is today considered Indonesia. This was a different sort of collaboration as I ended up participating as a dancer in the new year ritual Mami Fitri had to do for the local population.
Similarities abound between the dislocated trans-feminine people I have met as they are usually ostracized by most of their own societies and are structurally forced to exist in the bottom segments in the mainstream social hierarchies. Through collective artistic actions, in those transitory spaces in-between the visible (regular society) and the invisible (trans-feminine communities), we try to momentarily shift the stratified social demographics through the carrying out these collective interventions.
These interventions have been documented with the initial idea of creating a videoart-documentary piece with the recorded footage, I am still working on it as I type this, I am struggling with myself as to whether or not these video recordings should ever be released as an artwork, and even more than that, whether they should have even been recorded in the first place.
That said, I am still open to ideas and if there is a video person out there who has interest in these themes and preferably with a similar shared life experience who would like to help me in putting this together, I am open to hear from you.
For now, here are some screenshots taken from the documentations of the interventions.
Collaboration with Kandy Zyanide, Chiang Mai 2013
Collaboration with Nguyễn Thiện Phúc (Vy) and Jenny Quỳnh Phương (Sam), Saigon 2013