© Stephen Eastaugh, 2019. All Rights Reserved.
Located on Koh Samui Island Thailand are two buildings next to one another. One is a strange shiny gem-like building made by a jeweler that celebrates creativity and inside the building craftwork is sold. Next door is a rather ugly large office building used as the base the Samui Shooting Range where in Thai, Russian, Chinese and English you can pay to shoot pistols, riffles, semi automatic and other weapons at bits of paper in the shape of humans. Weapon based entertainment businesses may be just fronts for illegal activities like money laundering I do not know or perhaps they are just for fools who see ultra violence as fun. There are also new age massage/yoga spiritual centres for well-being spreading over the island like some disease as well as a plethora of drug fucked drunk idiots riding around in circles on noisy jet skis just off the coast of pretty coconut landscaped white beaches. The Thai Buddhist world encompasses all! Meditative mantras, gongs and bells are all reloaded, revved up and aimed to please the enormous array of human desires. Embellishment of the human figure with precious metals as well as the rearrangement of the human figure by emptying bullets into it for our pleasure. The customer is always right? Whatever makes tourists happy is ok. Which leads to the question. What does makes us happy?
I have no answer to that question but I know that my time in Thailand ended and it was very pleasing to see an old friend there. Now my body should be acclimatized to the moist sticky air of the tropics. I begin to settle into a new studio in Malaysia. I must readjust ever so slightly physically, emotionally, financially, intellectually and socially. Tweaking my normal routines and habits in an attempt to fit into a new location. What does not seem to change for me is this strange desire to make art wherever I am.
Before I arrived in this studio I had to travel by car, ferry, mini van, plane then finally a taxi. The airport experience was the usual as it involved being shuttled, corralled, processed, finger printed, stamped, scanned, read, profiled and lured to shop for luxurious bits of stuff. I often feel like a bovine type of creature at airports. A sort of zombie cow consumer. A bit dumbed down with a confused body clock. I feel equal parts fear and excitement. All go go go.. I say goodbye to one place then I consider if I have my passport? Then after the in-transit period it will be time to say hello to new folk.
At airports the senses get mashed and transmuted into multi national logos. Hurry up and wait, hurry up and get into another line, hurry up and purchase something you don’t want, hurry up and get going. I can get anxious as I am in a target zone, a hot Wi-Fi spot, a high security area and it is a border so there are rules galore. Best to duck into a neon bright global shopping mall to look at shiny watches that cost the same price as an entire Albanian village including the people living there. I rush to catch a horizontalator to gate 48. Don't be late! I eventually board, buckle in and finally take off. Then I am flying. Not a normal thing to do for most of human history. In fact very weird indeed. I am over the clouds.
The excellent and well established RIMBUN DAHAN (rimbundahan.org) on the outskirts of Kualar Lumpur will be my base for a few months. Verdant tropical gardens have lured me back to S.E Asia or is it the putrid loveliness of a tropical fruit which is soon to be in season and reeks havoc with many nostrils across the region. I speak of the spiky Durio Zibethinu. A fruit that is illegal in many public places due to its ultra rich perfumed/stink but it has also been described as - " rich custard highly flavoured with almonds" and "the king of fruits!" So is it rancid or royal? Probably both. A bit like human desires.