Original novel by Uthis Haemamool
Khao Sing, a painter living in Bangkok, agrees to have the youth Waree, who contacted him through Facebook, act as a model for him. In his belief that a model should not have life, Khao Sing refuses to get deeply involved with Waree, but continues to paint him, telling him about his own sexual escapades of the past in the process. He goes into an affair with a female poet he met at the time of the military coup d’etat in 1991 and “Black May” in 1992, another with a classmate of his at art school during the Asian financial crisis that struck in 1997, and a menage a trois with a young female artist who had come back from study abroad and a man working at a rental video shop at the time of the coup in 2006. The descriptions of the relationships Khao Sing formed with others bring in characterizations of body, desire, and art. The political situation in Thailand at the time forms the background of them all. Behind his relationship with Waree, too, lies the coup of 2014. Khao Sing longs to capture eternity in his paintings, but at the same time, all of the people connected with him leave his side in the end. The novel depicts the outlines and desires of the human body and nation as body, through the vicissitudes of Thai politics, art, and subculture.
* The “Pratthana” in the title of the work is a Thai word meaning “desire.”
* The original title of the novel in Thai is “Rang Khong Pratthana”, “Silhouette of Desire” in English [Published by Juti, June 2018].
Uthis Haemamool is a Thai novelist who has remained in vigorous activity amid the continuing political disruption in Thailand since the 2014 military coup. In the wild world of his novels, he confronts issues of universal concern while freely flitting back and forth between reality and fantasy, history and myth, and politics and individuals. His work has won the highest accolades, as evidenced by his selection for the Southeast Asian Write Award and the Seven Book Award. The novel on which “Pratthana – Portrait of Possession” is based is his latest full-length opus, and extensively reflects his own life. It overlays the sexual relationships of a lone artist living in Bangkok on the political turmoil he experiences in Thailand.
Message from Artists
- Uthis Haemamool (Original novel)
To see my own novel adapted for the stage is an experience far exceeding mere joy, because it brought a cherished desire of mine into reality. The story is brimming with what is deemed provocative or banned in this society devoid of freedom, whose members are oppressed, unable to speak, and not allowed to speak. It is something that is very fragile yet sharp.
My novel is adapted for the theater by Toshiki Okada, a director fully equipped with a philosophy and vision of artistic creation who placed his trust in this work. Taboos and the challenge of them are bound to capture our hearts.
The two of us are artists, and we will find common ground once we start the process of creation, regardless of how different we are in respects such as our ethnicity, the societies in which we live, and the languages in which we communicate. Together we will crawl out on the brittle, dangerous tightrope, in order to engender action and expression like those of theater, and to live beautifully – inside our artistic creation.
This is precisely why this piece is not to be missed, no matter what. ――June 2018
- Toshiki Okada (Script/Direction)
Uthis Haemamool’s novel is absolutely bursting with energy generated by anger and sorrow. Depicting the sexual and artistic career of an artist in contemporary Thai society, it describes how he becomes worn out, warped, and stripped of spirit while struggling under the sociopolitical circumstances of his country as it undergoes continuous and tempestuous change. It is an amazingly dense and provocative novel, and a painfully earnest one. I am attempting to create a work of theater adapted from it.
We live trapped in our bodies. We live seized by their desires. We live fettered by our countries, and seized by their desires. While unavoidably held captive by these things, we struggle with life, become tired, and grow old. This is what I want to present in a theatrical performance, and by creating theater of a type never before seen by anyone. ――June 2018
- Yuya Tsukahara (Scenography/Choreography)
Lately, I often think of the 1990s.
I turned 14 in 1993 and 20 in 1999.
The FIFA World Cup was held in the United States in 1994 and in France in 1998.
Today, football (soccer) as a sport is completely different from what it was in the 1990s.
Perhaps the same can be said about our behavior. Recently, I have constantly been thinking about things like the way we walk, talk, and feel distance from others.
In this age, there are many elements that not only make us feel nostalgic but are akin to “causal factors” for understanding the present. The slickness of Eurobeat tracks. The bearing of politicians appearing on TV. The crunching of a porno VHS cassette as it is sucked into the slot of a video deck.
The age has finally arrived when such things are being turned into art.
And yet, in my own work, I want to do all I can to deconstruct them. ――July 2018
The Story of Your Life – “Pratthana – A Portrait of Possession” Review –（2018/8/28 Taisuke Shimanuki）
The translator of the original novel “Silhouette of Desire”, Sho Fukutomi on “Pratthana – A Portrait of Possession”
Uthis Haemamool and Toshiki Okada first met in 2015.
Belonging to the same generation, these two rare talents have each created works based on keen insights into the contemporary age in which we live. They took the initial step toward the creation of “Pratthana – A Portrait of Possession” in November 2016, about one year after they first met. They subsequently worked out the concept for this piece through repeated dialogue.
- UTHIS HAEMAMOOL――From Individual-oriented Stories to Expansive Art （Asia Hundreds / The Japan Foundation Asia Center）
- “Pratthana: A Portrait of Possession”: Of Politics and Desire – By Amitha Amranand (Arts Equator)
- “Sex, arts and future of Thai democracy” – By Pawit Mahasarinand (The Nation)
- “Sex, truth & politics” Interview of Uthis Haemamool on his paintings exhibition related to the novel “Silhouette Of Desire”
- Play list for “Pratthana” by Uthis Haemamool
- “All People Unite” – What is the Thai Hip-Hop Project RAD Against? – Sho Fukutomi