Art/Culture  •  Impressions

Impressions: Blissfully Blind

B-Floor and Bangkok CityCity Gallery present “Blissfully Blind”, an experimental performance by Dujdao Vadhanapakorn.

July 18, 2017
I’ve been looking forward to “Blissfully Blind” with much anticipation. I always expect something outré from B-Floor and I’ll have to say that this show is beyond my expectations. If you haven’t already seen the show, I would strongly advise you to see it before reading this, unless you don’t mind spoilers.
I find the show to be paradoxically cathartic: the topic is depressing, especially how it reminds me of the current political atmosphere, but simultaneously I am reminded that there are still people who are still fighting under their seemingly placid façades.

The show I attended was delayed by ten minutes because of a sudden downpour. As I waited, I could see some of the B-Floor crew around but none on the actress. As a B-Floor fanatic, I know I need some depressants before the show so as to not get over-stimulated: fortunately the reception had a selection of beer and cider from Mikkeller and Zeffer for sale. After calmed my nerves by swigged down a “Monk’s Brew” as if it were Gatorade, the staff announced the performance room was ready to enter.  

With B-Floor it is always crucial to be aware of the space. Upon entry, the set seemed to consume only half the room; beyond the other side there seemed to be another set, but it was only separated, visually and (to a certain extent) physically, by ZIEGHT’s light installation. Along the walls there were only a few white benches. I was lucky enough to not have a seat. Walking towards the light structure, I realized that the inner part of the room was another performance space accessible only by venturing through the installation.

The inner part, however, was unlike the open space of the outer part. It was wired with clear fishing cords, making an invisible “glass ceiling” that forced us to put our heads down. But if you looked hard enough, there were openings to put one’s head through. The light structure seemed to serve as an intermediary limbo between the two spaces so the room was structured into three sections. There were two female performers on each side of the room and within the middle of the structure was our primadonna, Dujdao.

The performance began when we saw the actresses commence their languorous movements. Dujdao, in the middle of the light structure, moved along the blocks as if she were in her home, idle in her daily activities. The actresses outside started to interact with each other, talking. Then the lights turned red. Gunshots. While the actresses outside the structure fell down one after another, Dujdao was be able to evade all the bullets with her hood covering her eyes.

After what seemed like a truce, all the actresses lost their languor. They put on bewildered expressions and moved swiftly. The actresses from the opposing sides started to ‘trespass’ on the other’s spaces. While most performed this by running around like headless chickens, one seems to have found disillusionment through the opening of the ‘glass ceiling’. She then measured and scribbled something all over the room including in Dujdao’s space. I realized that the anonymous characters were now developing.

With her hood covering her eyes, Dujdao stayed in her comfort zone the whole time while one actress was disillusioned and another derided her. There were times when the disillusioned character tried to spread her wisdom but was rejected and taunted instead. At one point Dujdao had her hood taken off, only for it to be put back on with fear. The whole time, I was focused on on two characters: Dujdao and the disillusioned girl.

Towards the end of the show Dujdao gave her audience the climax: all the actresses gravitated into the light installation and answered Dujdao’s question, “What’s the reality?” I tried hard not to laugh but the guy beside me failed to do so. It was an almost sardonic, ironic laughter: the kind of laughter one would let out while feeling deeply sick in the stomach. Each actresses articulated different realities: each reflecting the societal issues we are all either too jaded to care about or too scared to speak of.

The nature of the show is extremely interactive. How the audience is forced to be a part of the show and how the audience can decode the show can be very subjective depending on their personal points of view. It is a triptych of parallelism: the show, the audience, and society. It is up to the audience whether they want to engage in the action or passively sit on one side experience only that side of “the reality”. This is also reflected in the role of each performer. Different characters are offered for the audience to identify with: Dujdao, who wishes to be blissfully blind, and the disillusioned one who wishes the same for the others. The intricate interactions in this white room is a microcosm of our society.

Let me go on with additional key elements for you to ruminate on (if you’ve seen the show) or look out for (if you haven't and don't mind spoilers). The light structure reminded me of the “Lichtdom” or the Cathedral of Light, a Nazi architectural piece. ZIEGHT’s light installation, the very same lights from Wonderfruit, not only only evokes awe but also blinds us, literally blocking our perception of the alternative reality.

This experimental performance cannot be more relevant to the contemporary condition of Thailand in both time and space. Postmodernity is where the grand narratives dissipate and multiple realities fill in the void; but when a mysterious, draconian, supreme power decides to wield such power over us, problems will arise, leaving one to wonder: Where should I position myself in this show?  Which character do I identify with?

The performance is on until July 27, daily except Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
More info: Click here.