Across the Sky

[Bangkok 1970s] After torrential downpours, rising river from the Chaopraya flooded the streets;  at times, spilling into the house.  I often folded paper boats and floated them down the floodwaters.

[Los Angeles early 1980s] Years later, my family and I moved.  Our house nested under a flight path.  I looked up towards the sky.  I saw planes, specifically the tail end of airplanes.  I wondered. Where do these planes come from?  This curiosity touched my memories of Thailand. My eyes meandered between the dreams of leaving and dreams of roots.

000ats_wpmovements01My childhood longing rippled over time. In March 2009, I journeyed to Badwater Basin, Death Valley.  I reflected on our collective surroundings, yearnings, conflicts, loss.  I thought, why not make a kite and run with it towards the lowest point of continental US?  The desert, on the surface, appears desolate.  With mindful steps, life reveals herself from our eroding footprints. I sat down, nearby a stagnant pool of water.  I began crafting my kite.  I looked up from time to time.  Tourists took snap shots of themselves in front of the park ranger marker that read “BADWATER BASIN . 282 Feet / 85.5 Meters . BELOW SEA LEVEL”.  The wind whispered.  At times, howled unrelentingly.  A lone seagull sat by the stagnant pool.  I thought.  How odd?  Silently asked, “what are you doing here?”.  The seagull looked on.  I imagined her asking me the same question.  I continued crafting my kite until the very last knot was secured.

000ats_wpmovements02I ran, far into the horizon, towards the center of the basin with my handheld kite.  Flap, flop, flap, flop, flap and flop, the kite tapped on the back of my knee, my spine, my shoulders.  The young child in me also ran.  Together, we arrived at what appeared to be the middle of the vast desert sea.  There, I sowed the seed of becoming.

Dvořák > Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95 II. Largo

[New York City 2015]  I was invited as a resident artist at The Schoolhouse of École Internationale de New York (EINY).  The structure was built in 1867 to serve as a Sunday School for the Calvary Church next door.  Upon entry, I was left breathlessly in awe at the vaulted height of the interior space.  Natural light enters indirectly through the upper windows circling above.  I thought about my desert run years ago and wondered how nice it would be to release multiple kites, capturing them frozen in time, across the vast sky of The Schoolhouse.

Across the Sky draws inspiration from my site-specific performance in Death Valley.  The collaborative installation with EINY’s 4th and 5th graders activated The Schoolhouse main entrance lobby.  The works comprised of objects, writings and drawings display the process of finding one’s own symbol connected with place and memory.  The resulting work is a collective mythology of our meanderings.  As our kites take flight in the sky, we reflect on our environment, our neighbors, our families, our enemies.  What are our wishes for the world?  Some wishes are attached to our kites while some remained sheltered. In the end, we simply let go.

Nuttaphol Ma . 秉宏
New York . 21 Apr 2015

Special thanks to participating artists:  Adam Antognelli, Baya Attard, Cora-Louise Benite Fleming, Lucile Benzaken,  Philippine Bonnet, Frederick Buford, George Buford, Carmen Castille, Adrien Chanel, Maïa-Lys Cruickshanks, Marine d’Arbaumont, Maxence Damour, Eliott Datchary, Jonah Dauvet, Hugo Fuhrer, Gita Ines Gandelsman, Spencer Grynwajc, Catalina Haberman, Clément Huang, Harrison Humphrey, Leo Kaiya, Léa Letellier, Paul Levilain, Massimo Michiels, Gregorio Morgillo, Oliver Navin- Roda, Jane O’Toole, Aline Perez, Eytan Sebbane, Lucca Soloff-Pellegrino, Adrien Valla, Sophia Veron, Nathan Viennet and Elden Wood.