Appendix A: ocean gazing, 2021
video, 15:46 min
In Appendix A: ocean gazing, I take for departure a photograph of my great grand uncle, Pridi Banomyong leaning over the edge of the boat that would take him into exile, never to return to Thailand in his lifetime. Pridi was one of the leaders that led the Siamese Revolution in 1932 that transitioned Thailand from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy. Framed by pro-monarchist forces for the murder of the king and accused of being a communist, he fled to Communist China and Paris where he died.
Reflecting on Pridi’s thoughts as the country of his desire slowly receded into the distance, I filmed my journey through the Arizona and California deserts to reach the Pacific Ocean at San Pedro Harbor. On-site, in San Pedro, I visited sites that allude to or commemorate Asian diasporic communities that have been erased: the Japanese Fishing Village is a stark example of systematic racism against Japanese Americans who were deported to concentration camps in Arizona during World War II. With Pridi’s exile on one hand and the history of Asian diaspora on the West Coast on the other, I question my own desire to build a life in the US when historically and in the present, the government has shown disregard and contempt for immigrant communities. The retelling of these narratives reveal the multilayered forces that govern human migratory patterns: conservative ideologies, repressive governments and war and violence caused by US foreign policy break apart and disperse communities. While offering these communities refuge, the US continues to violate their collective imaginary and lives they had painstakingly rebuilt.
The video is an appendix to my archival project Chloropsis Aurifrons Pridii. The archive is built from fictional accounts of the revolution in Yukio Mishima’s novels, Pridi’s out-of-print memoir, fragments of his writing that have been translated into English and family hearsay.