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Korakrit Arunanondchai

BAP welcomed Thai-American artist Korakrit Arunanondchai for the month of January in 2020.

Known for his phantasmic works, Krit arrived with an interest in the country’s mythological and folkloric creatures. Particularly in the lower mythological creatures of the Philippines such as the Aswang, Tikbalang, Manananggal, and KapreFor his residency, he brings these creatures to life in his film production with his longtime collaborator and cinematographer Alex Gvojic.

FILMING

Continuing his ongoing research and studying various belief systems and animistic rituals all over the world, Krit’s project with BAP focuses on the Tikbalang–a bipedal horse creature–as a representation of nature. He wanted to explore ways of becoming kin to the spirit through filming different scenes where his main character, played by Filipino dancer and performer Josh Serafin, interacts with the Tikbalang.

Dr. Maximo D. Ramos is the first scholar who tabulated the data on the mythological creatures of the Philippines. His most popular book entitled, Creature of Philippine Lower Mythology, first documented these creatures mistakenly categorised by many as aswang.

Late-night filming with Korakrit Arunanondchai (left) and Alex Dvojic. Photo by Ansper Niel Aquino.

Behind the scenes with Korakrit Arunanondchai and Josh Serafin (dressed as a Tikbalang and other characters). Photos by Ansper Niel Aquino.

Although not to be confused and regarded as lower culture, these creatures of “lower” mythology have been extant since before the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines and are always received by the common folk with apprehension and fear since they are known to prey and play tricks on people. The Tikbalang, for example is known to lure travelers and ordinary people into a loop or “natikbalang” where they cannot get out of unless they remove their clothes and wear them inside out—the only known way to get out of the spell. Given the negative view of people towards these creatures, Krit wanted to renew that perception of the Tikbalang by sketching out scenes where the main character tries to be one with the creature as a vehicle to  understanding his nature.

In addition to this, Josh also played a variety of other characters and creatures from lower Philippine mythology which Krit weaved into the narrative of becoming more akin to these creatures. Dominique Testa, who is a local performer also plays a role in the production.  Krit filmed her playing her cover of Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling In Love which echoed all throughout the Sanctuario San Jose in Las Casas.

Krit’s experience and research as a result of his residency informed the project titled “Songs for dying,” which premiered at the Kunsthall Trondheim in Norway and at the 13th Gwangju Biennale in South Korea, both in February of 2021. 

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