The Festival

What is Unfolding Kafka Festival?

The Unfolding Kafka Festival is a biennial event that provides a platform for outstanding international artistic exchanges that enrich the field of contemporary art in Thailand. The persistent fascination for Kafka’s style and his mysterious characters reveals and provides us with room for interpretation.

In a natural and rational way, Kafka combines obscure and surreal scenarios with the real world, a motif which today is used in a variety of literary and cinematic formats. But we intend to challenge our Thai audience to explore other interpretations of Kafka’s works through visual and conceptual art. “Abstract and conceptual art are not there to confuse us, but rather to give us freedom for interpretation and make us think.” Thus, our programme, which gives birth to important cross-cultural and cross-discipline collaborations, definitely conducts creative exchanges with arts communities.

The Festival poses the question of how choreography, physical movements, installations, sculpture and visual arts interact and facilitate a translation from one to the other. Conceived as a multidisciplinary approach, the festival focuses on the relationship between material and choreographic design, perception and literature interpretation, folding and unfolding design of inner and outer space of the human body, as well as interaction and participation between different mediums.

DirectorJitti Chompee

Why the name “Unfolding Kafka”?

Everything started when Jitti Chompee, founder and director of the festival, saw “Der Bau” by Isabelle Schad and Laurent Goldring at Tanzplattform 2014 in Hamburg, Germany. The performance, inspired by Franz Kafka’s novel, made Jitti realize that the piece, conceived as a dance work, could easily be considered as a visual art. He said: “I think this is a new perspective that should be introduced to art students and creators here”. Hence, he decided to propose to the Goethe Institut Thailand to invite both artists to come and present their work in Bangkok. Since Kafka, a German author, inspires the piece, the Goethe Institut Thailand was very enthusiastic to proudly support the project. Meanwhile, Jitti kept exploring Kafka’s work, “A Letter to His Father”, which made him think about origami and Yoko Seyama, a visual artist and scenographer. The artistic collaboration between Yoko and Jitti gave birth to a piece called “The Silence of Insects”, which has been supported by the Japan Foundation, another essential cooperation that allowed the festival to take form. Later on, after the festival’s first edition, the Kylian Foundation invited Jitti in 2016 for an artistic residency at Korzo Theatre in The Hague, Netherlands. Still inspired by Kafka’s work, Jitti created a new piece, Red Peter, which, since then, has been traveling around the world to diverse dance festivals. Never would he have thought that so many projects and ideas could come from one special encounter…

“Contemporary art is relevant because it is created in the now and it talks about our reality, it talks about us.”

— Jitti Chompee, Director

Festival Team

Artistic Director: Jitti Chompee
Assistant to Artistic Director: Kanokporn Vorapharuek and Wipavee Patoompong
Festival Committee: Maren Niemeyer (Director of the Goethe-Institut Thailand), Norihiko Yoshioka (Director-General of the Japan Foundation, Bangkok), Vanessa Silvy (Attachée culturelle pour l’Ambassade de France en Thaïlande)
Stage Manager: Thachaporn Jirasakkee
Technical Director: Jirach Eaimsa-ard
Film Project Advisor: Hans Kohl
Project Coordinator: Kannikar Saengsuwan, Kullaya Sriwatanarotai, Pattarasuda Anuman Rajadhon and Sirirat Tinarat
Press and PR coordinator: Wipavee Patoompong and Pattarasuda Anuman Rajadhon
Programme designer: Somprathana Wapinanon
Web designer: Chanatda Ruangrat
Web Editorial: Kanokporn Vorapharuek
Translator: Kukasina Kubaha
Intern Press and Online Communication: Sasikan Siangjun, Pisacha Kriengvatanasiri

Unfolding Kafka Festival has been made possible thanks to the generosity of our

Cooperation Partners: the Goethe-Institut Thailand, the Japan Foundation, Ambassade de France en Thaïlande, Institut Français, MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, Embassy of Portugal, Camões – Institute for Cooperation and Language, Alliance Française Bangkok, Embassy of Czech Republic Bangkok, Neilson Hays LIbrary, James H.W. Thompson Foundation, TCEB and 18 Monkeys Dance theatre.

Venue Partners: World Performances @ Drama Chula, The Rose Hotel Bangkok, Neilson Hays Library, Hostbkk, Jim Thompson House and Maiiam Contemporary Art Museum, The Siam Society Under Royal Patronage

Hotel Partners: The Rose Hotel Bangkok and 1905 Heritage Corner

Artists

Message from partners

The Ambassador of France to Thailand

Through its rich and eclectic program, where films, exhibitions and performances mix, the Unfolding Kafka festival disrupts conventions and distorts habits with the challenge to offer demanding proposals that are accessible to all types of audiences. The Embassy of France in Thailand is pleased, this year again, to support the festival, which offers a unique space for contemporary creation in Bangkok.

Three French shows are presented for this edition. Programmed in close collaboration with the Director of the festival, Jitti Chompee, these creations invite us to question our relationship with the world, the place we occupy in our environment and in society with enthusiasm and imagination:

Vania Vaneau offers an investigation into ritual, trance and transformation. Charlie and Sylvain Bouillet, through their acrobatic show, combine the spontaneity of childhood with the precision of writing. Finally, Nathan Israel will offer us a sensory journey through raw material – the soil – to become a man of mud, a mirror of our humanity.

These artists ignore frames and labels, they are in love with risk and insolence, they offer us the opportunity to dive into their unique worlds and I hope that even closer links can be forged between the public, the festival and the other invited artists. In addition to disseminating French artists in Thailand, The French Embassy encourages, cooperation projects and creations in the territory. Exchanges between French and local artists are at the heart of our activities and I hope that many of you will participate in the workshop organized with Charlie and Sylvain Bouillet at the Alliance française.

I hope that this this third edition may become a great success and that the visitors may experience many beautiful discoveries. As Kafka wrote, the gaze does not seize the images, it is the images that seize the gaze, they invade consciousness.

Jean Lapouge
Ambassador of France to Thailand

The Director of the Goethe-Institut Thailand

Once again the Goethe-Institut Thailand is proud to work in cooperation with the Unfolding Kafka Festival. The institute has been involved in many cultural projects over the past decades, promoting values of exchange and collaboration. However, the Unfolding Kafka Festival has proven to be a unique event in the international contemporary art scene. Its focus on the variety of conceptual and moving works allows everyone to experience the countless interpretations of Kafka’s words. We are proud to support and promote the festival and consider this an ideal framework to democratise Kafka’s work, making it more accessible to everyone.

The festival allows scope for exploration and interaction. With cross-cultural discussions on themes and issues relevant to a contemporary social and political context, the festival explores different approaches to a variety of predicaments. This year, the festival programme includes everything from film screenings and video installations to performance, dance and graphic expositions while also exploring new media such as the virtual reality experience VRwandlung, all allowing the equally diverse audience to enter Kafka’s world with their own opportunity for personal interpretation.

I believe that the ongoing success of the Unfolding Kafka Festival contributes to the rise of an even more dynamic and inspiring local contemporary art scene.

Maren Niemeyer
Director of Goethe-Institut Thailand

The Director-general of the Japan Foundation, Bangkok

It is our great pleasure and honor to participate in the 3rd edition of Unfolding Kafka Festival by co-hosting the screenings of 2 Japanese films as well as an art installation by a Japanese artist this year.

The art installation is created by Atsuko Nakamura, whose consistent theme is

  • What is nature?
  • What is human life?

Her massive installation made of natural woods in the room of Rose Hotel will invite you to think about the theme not by words but by sense.

One of the two films we introduce this year is The Trial (2018) by Welsh/Japanese director John Williams. As you might have guessed from the title, it is based on the novel “The Trial” by Franz Kafka. And yes, it is full of stimulating absurdity.

Another film is The Trial (1975) by legendary Japanese film/theatre director Shuji Terayama. It is not known if it is related to the novel “The Trial” by Franz Kafka or not. But again, yes, it is fully packed with experimental absurdity. Why nails? We don’t know…

Here, I have to confess that I could not enjoy and understand Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” when I first read in my teens. But looking it back from my current 40s, the memory of my experience seemed to be not bad. The experience still exists in my brain and body. It is even lovable now.

What does it mean? It perhaps means that our memory and experience do not only consist of what we can understand and explain at the time. It changes and metamorphoses as time goes by. That is the power of art.

So please do not worry about absurdity and just experience our line-ups. Your experience will grow up and will be a part of you.

And for absurdity and abstraction lovers, or Kafka lovers in short, welcome back to the 3rd edition of Unfolding Kafka Festival.

Norihiko Yoshioka
Director-General
The Japan Foundation, Bangkok

Contributors

The Unfolding Kafka Festival is teaming up with TCEB, the first Thai organization to extend a high level of support to our arts and culture festival. We are spreading the word that Thailand has this unique “signature” festival, which allows local people to discover at first hand some of the most dynamic contemporary artists in the world and who, most of the time, never came to South-East Asia.

Our priority with your support is to develop our educational program, by reaching out to more than 1000 students in Chiangmai to participate without any charge or fee in any of the performances, workshops and lectures.

Your contribution will also help independent artists, who aren’t supported by their governments or any other institutes. “Your contributions will help independent artists without thinking about race or borders.” Since there aren’t many subsidies here in Thailand to help the contemporary art scene, we need your help.

You not only make this year’s event possible, but also ensure stability for future editions. Gain access to the entire festival programme and support our cause by purchasing our festival pass.

Contact us at unfoldingkafkafestival@gmail.com.