When ComPeung got invited to be part of Chiang Mai Now!, we opted for an exact mirror image of what ComPeung aspires to be: A creative content provider with a platform for artists to challenge us, our perceptions and presumptions by expressing relevant remarks with a sense of urgency. ComPeung is a constant work in progress with the firm focus on present situations and issues, their forever evolving process character, ComPeung is up for discussion – always – it doesn't stand still and it doesn't freeze the moments of past achievements. Consequently we decided to showcase a live project by Jai Arun Ravine. As a lead up to 'Chiang Mai Now!', we provided Jai with the creative platform of ComPeung to develop the experimental film Tom / Trans / Thai during a one month residency @ ComPeung. The exhibition itself marks the second stage of this live project by extending this platform to the public arena for further discussion.
Tom / Trans / Thai (as part of Chiang Mai Now! exhibition @ BACC, Bangkok)My short experimental film "Tom/Trans/Thai" opens a door within Thai discourse, with the hope that a conversation between tom and Thai female-to-male (FTM) transgender identity can begin. I look at the ways gender is culturally and linguistically constructed and communicated in Thailand and the US and how that affects toms and Thai trans-masculine people, and how the presence of "tom" and "trans" influence each other.
I found that the demand to gender oneself in the Thai language, under the guise of politeness and respectability, often silences us and renders invisible and illegible our inhabitations of queerness and masculinity. Positive information around the possibility of FTM transgender expression within Thailand is nearly nonexistent and available only via the internet, which isolates Thai trans men, sometimes even from toms, leaving them with the painful task of finding a language to explain who they are.
I am grateful to ComPeung for the opportunity to begin this project and exhibit the film at the BACC as part of "Chiang Mai Now!" For more information on this project, to acquire a copy of the film, or to learn more about the forthcoming paper "Tom/Trans/Thai: Writing Self Across Thai and Thai American Trans-Masculinities," which has been selected for presentation at the International Thai Studies Conference in Bangkok in July 2011, please visit http://jaiarunravine.wordpress.com/tomtransthai/Supported by