Well, there is much to be said about this project. It's based on my wife Anida Yoeu Ali's performance poetry piece called "1700%". Well, I was looking for some music video project in the winter of 2010. I contacted a well-known Chicago based Philippino band and sought for an opportunity to collaborate. But for some reason productive meetings never really happened despite my effort. So I said, what the hell. Who else can I work with? Then my wife suggested that we work together for this video contest. And I'm like... okay. Maybe.
I helped document some of my wife's performance works before but we never really collaborated. I never liked the idea of collaboration. It always sounded like aversion of creative responsibility. And collaboration with spouse seemed like a very very bad idea. Nonetheless, we discussed and we found a good possibility. But I made it clear that I'd have the final veto on the aesthetic issues. Call me a dictator, but I'd rather be a villain than a nice guy with a confused and demoralized piece of work at the end.
But despite my fears, this project turned out to be a rather healthy collaboration project, with helps from Romina and people of the community. Mr. Matt Crowley, who did the entire score for my first feature film "Art of Love" (2010, artoflovemovie.com/) gracefully took on the impossible demand to score this video in like 2 day notice. We worked with another local musician who provided the second half of the score. I think the drastic change of music in the middle worked well, though the decision was consistently challenged by my partner. See how veto works. ;)
But that's all small anecdote, compared to the big picture this piece serves. Anida's installation work, that came along with the video work, got vandalized at a gallery in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Things got bigger from there. It was funny to see how most people already had a verdict on the case for the culprit. Before finding out who did it (the cops nor the school never made any effort to identify the idiot, while we easily found other students who thought they could identify the guy), institutions were writing it off as an act of innocent mischief. Really? How do you already know that? What was even funnier was that the reasons these people presented varied tremendously as to why this person should not be held liable for his hideous act. It seemed like lots of people liked that her work was vandalized, and they hoped that's where the story would end. You know how shocked I was to see all this happen? And I thought we were part of this community of artists who were keen to justice. Wrong. Fear does funny things.
This video has been watched by more than twenty thousand people world wide since being uploaded to the web. This particular link is new so it has much fewer count, but the main link is part of 1700% Project website (1700percentproject.wordpress.com/) by Anida Yoeu Ali. Anyhow, the vandalism did very little to deter attention from the real issue. And the video is going stronger than ever before.
And I know very well this strength came not from my dictatorial direction, but from my wife's belief in art as tools for revolution. So this collaboration taught me something. Though I still hate her approaches sometimes. I mean, that's why our newest work "Who's Got Us?" is still incomplete since the completion of principal photography almost a year ago. Should I listen or should I veto? Well, it's gotto be somewhere in-between. I guess.
Prumsodun Ok is the painted white angel. He is trained in traditional Cambodian dance. I'm planning on posting the whole choreography of the dance as a solo piece. (Masahiro, 07/04/2011)