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 Institute Thailand to invite both artists to come present their work in Bangkok. Since Kafka, a German author, inspires the piece, the Goethe-Institute 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, Kylian Foundation invited Jitti in 2016 for an artistic residency at Korzo Theatre in Den Haag, 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”

Contemporary art is for everyone

Jitti Chompee talked about his audience in an interview by Jasmine Moir from Tanzconnexions: “I’ve had 60 year-old ladies coming to see my shows originally because they are fans of my dancers who also perform Khon at the National Theatre. They usually say they don’t really get my shows, but will come back again because they find the dance beautiful and believe they will eventually have a better understanding of contemporary dance. To me, that is very endearing and inspiring. These wonderful ladies are now my regular audience”.

Photography by Sareena Sattapon

Who is Franz Kafka?

The worldwide persistent fascination for the German author, Franz Kafka (1883-1924), his legacy and his work full of mysterious character reveal and provide 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.

“We intend to challenge our Thai audience to explore other interpretations of Kafka’s works through visual and conceptual arts”

Why should you support the festival?

Unfolding Kafka Festival is teaming up with Asiola to spread 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 education programme by giving the opportunity to a wider group, more than 1000 students, to participate without any charge of fee to any of the performances, workshops and lectures. Your contribution will also help independent artists, who aren’t supported by their government or any institutes.

“Your contributions will help independent artists without thinking about race or borders”

Since here in Thailand, there aren’t much subsidies to help the contemporary art scene, we need your help. You, not only make this year’s event possible, but also insure certain stability for the future edition in 2019. With your support to our campaign, we will create an open call to fully support the creation for a new piece from a Thai contemporary artist that will be shown in the next festival’s edition.

What the press said about Unfolding Kafka Festival 2015 1st edition

Abstract from an article by Helly Minarti from Jakarta, Indonesia: “The lecture-performance was an intimate space, with its simple and almost bare staging. If curating is about criticality, Chompee did his best to simply follow his curiosity line, one after the other, thus connecting different nodes of partners-presenters, e.g. Goethe-Institut, Japan Foundation, the two universities and a commercial hotel. As an independent curator, in a place where curating performance is yet to become a familiar practice let alone a profession, I share Chompee’s excitement of realizing what was once a mere flickering idea. With its sprawling urban space, predominately dictated by capitalistic power, mainstream, primate cities like Bangkok and Jakarta are much in need of such organic intervention, of which a space for other narratives to take place can emerge”.

You can find more articles here.

Read the message from the director of the Goethe-Institut Thailand here.