Dance, Video, Performance

Learn more about my collaborative dance and multimedia performance projects by clicking the tabs below.

Dance

Oceanic End (excerpt) (2016)

Choreography by iele paloumpis in collaboration with Jai Arun Ravine

For this excerpt of Oceanic End, Jai and I have been exploring multiple ways of being between worlds. We’ve generated movement through inhabiting various trance states, memories, and busting out to all of the pop songs in our hearts just for good measure. Songs of our mothers’, songs ​from middle school, songs we’ve made up, songs that rip our hearts out and make us feel alive. We’ve also been reading some Ursula K. LeGuin and dreaming up future fantasies (genderqueers are always re-imagining because we must). We’ve been playing with felt timing and collective consciousness, so you’ll see some unison movement which is usually pretty satisfying in all of its twisted wonderful ways. Sometimes it feels like dance class, sometimes euphoria. We talk about ghosts and death a lot. It’s all an experiment and this will be the last time it lives this way.

- – a bit of tackle (2014)

- – a bit of tackle
Choreographer: Qilo Matzen
Dancer: Jai Arun Ravine
Costumes: Ariel Springfield & Qilo Matzen
Sound and Set: Qilo Matzen
Performed at The News (November 4, 2014)
SOMArts Cultural Center, San Francisco, CA
Videographer: Preston Curley

This project began in July 2013 during a choreographic residency at Fancyland. Movement was generated by improvising to extracted phrases from collaboratively written text. Other text material included Susan Rethorst’s A Choreographic Mind: Autobodygraphical Writings and Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse. These improvisations led to the development of kinesthetic states around each text-image, which were arranged and re-arranged in space.

my heart eats with its hands (2011)

Original Text and Choreography by Charleston Chu and Jai Arun Ravine
Music: “Androgynous” and “Origami Monsters” by Jhameel
Video projection: Charleston Chu and Jai Arun Ravine
Performed as part of Rally the Troupes VII: The Revolution WILL Include Glitter, presented by Drew Montana, Kentucky Fried Woman and Starr69 on September 16, 2011 at Mills College, Littlefield Concert Hall, Oakland, CA.

Through a collaborative process of writing and dancing together, we created a piece that examines what our genderqueer, Asian American hearts are like. We intervene on the cultural silences that have discredited our need to express ourselves and prohibited us from having feelings and emoting in our writing. Working with the music of bay area artist Jhameel, we move through our relationship with the written word—as a place where we hide and fear we are losing control—as a place where we jump up and remake ourselves.


Video

AmbientAsianSpace.gifs (2016)

Ambient Asian Space by Jai Arun Ravine from Timeless, Infinite Light on Vimeo.

Thanks to Coda Wei for inspiration, Sarah Nguyen for conceptual brainstorming, and Gregory Holt for camera operation and direction.

These .gifs were screened as part of SALTA is Timeless, Infinite Light at LoBot Gallery in Oakland, California, on January 29, 2016.

Ambient Asian Space is a serial episodic epic of text, .gifs and comics created collaboratively by Coda Wei and Jai Arun Ravine. Partially inspired by Pamela Lu’s Ambient Parking Lot and a local Asian food court, it’s the universe of our literary merge. In parallel, we’re drawing comics of the characters and events that the writing is producing. After reading Karen Tei Yamashita’s Anime Wong mangas, some of CyberAsia wormholed its way in.

This set of gifs was created as an off-shoot of the project for the SALTA/Timeless show.

Through Coda and this writing I was introduced to the pleasure and potential that lies within the format of the .gif. .gif-making and .gif-viewing are exceptionally nerdy endeavors; from The Lord of the Rings to Fuck Yeah Claudia Black to Sherlock, tumblr fan culture thrives on .gifs. Because the internet is also flooded with pornographic .gifs, the form seems quite masturbatory, perhaps related to what Eve Sedgwick calls “repetition-compulsion” in her essay Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl. This also made me remember Cathy Park Hong’s series of haikus and .gifs, The Rub.

I became interested in the way a .gif could loop / infinitize / prolong a body in motion, or extend and obsess over a moment or emotion in time. So, I wanted to create a series of .gifs related to the Ambient Asian Space episodes and adjacent fanfish universe.

ONCE IN A LIFETIME | 113/6 (2015)

ONCE IN A LIFETIME | 113/6 from Jai Arun Ravine on Vimeo.

there is a place revealed serene yet surreal
land of discovery beauty mystery and dignity
above the clouds and sun two hearts will beat as one
so set your spirit free be what you want to be
just let the sparkling seas wash all your cares away
more than you ever know how to be free

113/6 is one of a series of texts written from lyrics to a song featured in a Tourism Authority of Thailand commercial, “Once in a Lifetime.” These texts confuse the desire to escape -to- Thailand, as it is produced by tourism, with Thai people’s desire to escape -from- Thailand.

I’ve been moved by Ronaldo V. Wilson’s Grey video and his “osmotic” relationship between reading and performance – and Emji Spero’s Almost Any Shit Will Do book and their “porousness” between “the individual” and “the movement” – and my mom rooting for Sam Smith in the Grammys – and my desire to sing – and my desire to make dances – and how to reconcile my mom’s anti-black racism with her denial of my gender with her fetish for British culture with my experience of Thailand obliterated by white tourism? Thank you for this way in to MOVE the text, a sketch, more of me singing and dancing to come…

  • I wrote and performed the text 113/6
  • I sang a verse from the cheesy “Once in a Lifetime” jingle in my own lullaby arrangement
  • I choreographed the dance
  • I edited the sound and video
  • I recorded a phone conversation I had with my mom while she watched the Grammys (2/8/15)

ONCE IN A LIFETIME | THE ESCAPE ARTIST (2015)

ONCE IN A LIFETIME | THE ESCAPE ARTIST from Jai Arun Ravine on Vimeo.

a world of make believe
sharing your smile it has to be relive the stories of ancient glory now and forever the story
never-ending you’ll always remember
among the miracles waiting for you to share
you’ll never be the same again the things you see will change
you always and forever let our two worlds collide
there’s wonders to see

THE ESCAPE ARTIST is one of a series of texts written from lyrics to a song featured in a Tourism Authority of Thailand commercial, “Once in a Lifetime.” These texts confuse the desire to escape -to- Thailand, as it is produced by tourism, with Thai people’s desire to escape -from- Thailand.

In this second video brochure, I think about my mother’s failure to fulfill her desire of studying in England, her fetish for British pop culture, and her intimacy with the television as a means of escape.

  • I wrote and performed the text THE ESCAPE ARTIST
  • I sang a verse from the cheesy “Once in a Lifetime” jingle in my own lullaby arrangement
  • I choreographed the dance
  • I edited the sound and video
  • I recorded a phone conversation I had with my mom while she watched the Grammys (2/8/15)

FAN CHRISTY (COVER) [KARAOKE MV] (2011)

“Fan Christy” is an experimental karaoke music video and a mis-translated cover of the song “Faen Christy” by Dutch artist Christy Gibson. “Faen” is a non-gendered Thai word for romantic partner, purportedly derived from the hybridization of the English words “fan” and “friend.”

As a Super Queer Trans Half Thai/Luk Kreung Diasporic Alien Conspiracy Theorist, I must be an Obsessed Fan of Dutch Luk Thoong/Mor Lam Pop Star Christy Gibson in order to possess The Deep Personal Understanding of Thai Culture and Life.

Christy Christy Christy your super cool
Christy Christy Christy plz teach me too
Christy Christy Christy I wanna be you, I wanna fan you, I wanna be fan you

Music: “Faen Christy” by Christy Gibson
Video Projection: Jorrit Poelen (with samples from Christy Gibson’s “Ngiew Dtong Dton Ohn Poo Bow” music video)
Costume Elements: Iraya Robles
Performance: Jai Arun Ravine
Created by Jai Arun Ravine and Jorrit Poelen, 2011


Screenings

Chains of Love/Ties that Blind shorts program curated by Việt Lê [with Studio Revolt, Erin O’Brien, Tina Takemoto, Hong-An Truong, and Ly Hoang Ly] | my gaze///yr gaze [curated by Irwin Swirnoff] @ n/a gallery, Oakland, September 21, 2014

Rats in Glitter Program, Frameline 37 [San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival] @ Roxie Theater, San Francisco, June 27, 2013

Queer Rebels presents SPIRIT: A Century of Queer Asian Activism [Films] @ Brava Theater, San Francisco, May 11, 2013

Queer Rebels Winter Shindig @ El Rio, San Francisco, December 9, 2012

Chains of Love/Ties that Blind: The Shadows of Empire video program @ UP Film Institute and Green Papaya Art Projects, Quezon City, Philippines, November 27-30, 2012 and Mami Art Center (MAC), Ha Noi, Viet Nam, December 5, 2012

MIX NYC: Queer Rebels presents Exploding Lineage @ Mix Factory, Brooklyn, NY, November 14, 2012

Facing West/Looking East, Chains of Love/Ties that Blind: The Shadows of Empire video program @ Oceanside Museum of Art, August 11, 2012 – January 13, 2013

Past Present | Future Imperatives: Queer Space Time @ Sabina Lee Gallery, Los Angeles, February 25, 2012

The General Ridiculousness of Trying to Define Asian American Anything (2012)

This video was created for a collaborative presentation on “Interchange, Transformation, Exuberance: North Asian American Poetry, Performance, and New Media” curated by Sueyeun Juliette Lee with Ray Hsu, Tung-Hui Hu and Cynthia Arrieu-King for the Fall Convergence on Poetics at the University of Washington, Bothell on September 29, 2012.

Through dialogues and collaborative writings engaged in prior to the conference, we discussed many things, among them what Juliette phrased as “the general ridiculousness of trying to define Asian American anything” and the kind of commodification of the an “Asian American” category or aesthetic in regards to literature and popular culture and the constant tagging of identities and outliers. We were looking toward possibilities of being and what Juliette called an “exuberance” of “Asian American” beings/aesthetics/cultural productions.

I took these threads and created a video ad campaign for ChaoKoh, my favorite brand of coconut milk–a brand that happens to be Thai. I used the opportunity to get on my roof and be ridiculous, to risk being “too Asian” and “not Asian enough”, too obscure and too specific.

Thanks to Juliette, Ray, Tung-Hui and Cindy for the interchange, transformation and exuberance.


Screenings

Food Diaspora / Speisediaspora Film Program [Curated by Juli Saragosa] @ Innovate Heritage International Conference, Berlin, Germany (June 6-8, 2014)

! :) <3 / !SMILEYFACEHEART (2009)

!smileyfaceheart
!smileyfaceheart is a short experimental film that navigates trans-faggotry through femme drag and junior high school diary crushes, in an effort to access desires that have been culturally silenced, erased, and denied.

Duration: 6 minutes
Costume Design and Art Direction: Iraya Robles
Camera Operator: Ami Puri

!SMILEYFACEHEART grew out of the sense of empowerment I experienced when I donned femme drag last summer, an experience so radically different from my previous relationship to femininity. Long associated with weakness and the hopeless inability to escape destructive situations and patterns, I feared exposing my femininity to others and coming into proximity with this place inside myself. I worked hard to push it down as far as possible and created strategies to conceal it.

During this time I was also re-reading my diaries from age 13, when I began to write about crushes on white junior high school boys. These desires, while expressed in the sense that I wrote about them, were systematically encrypted, crossed out, whited-out and erased from memory. I had no sense of empowerment then about my sexual desire, and did not believe that it was even something I was allowed to feel.

Femme drag opened up a space in which I felt it could be possible to access and reclaim my sexual desire. Performing my diary entries, my desires, from the place of empowered, unashamed femme drag became a way to claim trans-faggotry and my desire for and eroticization of masculinity.

I made this film for other trans and genderqueer folks of color or of mixed race who are caught up in the struggle between desire and shame, who struggle with determining what we want, how we feel, and that we deserve it—processes that are so drastically counter to how we were brought up to think about our bodies.


Screenings

TRANNY FEST (currently San Francisco Transgender Film Festival), San Francisco, November 7, 2009


Performance

SOME RESERVATIONS (2012)

Some Reservations

Me impersonating Anthony Bourdain: “Red shirts bad, yellow shirts good? Or, yellow shirts bad, red shirts good? I, I don’t really know who the good guys and the bad guys are. Nothing to do really, but eat.”

I’m Anthony Bourdain.
I write,
I travel,
I eat,
and I’m hungry for more.

I am fascinated by the obsession white people have about Thailand, as well as the sense of romance and fantasy concerning the country that is constructed in the western imagination. I am interested in the permission to re-imagine self that Thailand facilitates—namely an overwhelming sense of escape and freedom—that is manufactured and readily accessible to all white tourists, but not to Thailand’s own people.

Thanks to a recommendation by Marissa Perel, I watched Season 6, Episode 6 of Anthony Bourdain’s Travel Channel show “No Reservations,” which was shot in Thailand in April of 2008. You can watch all three parts of the episode on YouTube (part 1 starts here). I am intrigued by Anthony’s freedom of movement (despite the political upheaval) and the way in which he juxtaposes the Songkran “water festival” with the red shirt protests that occurred that week—water pistols with pistols.

Some Reservations 2

Aiming a super-soaker at Anthony’s bowl of jok: “I’m suddenly happy, and secure, and nothing else matters.”

My project is to parody Anthony in a show called “SOME RESERVATIONS.” I prepared a first draft of this piece and presented it at The News!, curated by Kolmel WithLove, at SOMArts in San Francisco on May 1, 2012. I collaborated again with video projectionist Jorrit Poelen to project video samples from the first 10 minutes of Anthony’s episode. Jorrit was able to project in the back bay of the SOMArts theater on two large panels. It looked stunning.

The sound situation was not ideal and became a complete failure. My plan was to over-dub Anthony’s words with my own voice and to attempt to embody his ease of movement, his cavalier attitude, as well as his frequent quips about hard nipples. However, I became swallowed by his voice, the audio feedback and the dissonance, and it became hard to concentrate on the words themselves. I also completely disappeared in the visual landscape and lost my barrings in the space, subconsciously preferring to place myself in the darkness, rather than the light. This awkward physicality is telling, and shows that it really is all about Anthony, all the time.

“It’s funny, really—no matter what happens in Thailand, you feel sometimes like nothing can hurt you.”

Video and audio samples from “No Reservations,” Season 6, Episode 6, Travel Channel, 2008.
Video Projection by Jorrit Poelen.

THE PACKAGE TOUR (2011)

The Package Tour

Utilizing my time-travel device at The Ms Tang Tang Show. Photo by Mia Nakano.

The Package Tour investigates renaming as it relates to consuming, integrating, reclaiming and rewriting gender and cultural signifiers. I renamed myself to affirm the process of accessing a more legible, authentic me, a process that involves reclaiming trans-masculinity inclusive of Thainess, and Thainess inclusive of trans-masculinity. I explore the ways I consume my identity (bubble tea, T-pop, YouTube, half-Thai pop stars, white rice) and how this consumption interacts with practices of tourism. This is the Airport set of the Karaoke Music Video shot from the Quickly Open-Top Sight-Seeing Bus operated by the Travel Agency inside a Goodwill in West Virginia that will transport me to the Mountain Village of my name in a Package Tour.

Original Text and Choreography by Jai Arun Ravine
Video Projection by Jorrit Poelen

This piece was developed for “The Nature of Nomenclature: An exploration of re-naming within queer communities” at the Subterranean Arthouse, Berkeley, February 25-26, 2011. A condensed version of this piece was also performed for “The Ms Tang Tang Show” at the Buriel Clay Theater of the African American Art & Culture Complex, San Francisco, June 23, 2011.

TOMBOIGATOEYMANGO (2010)

TomboiGatoeyMango

Boiling water and painting my nails at Subterranean Arthouse. Footage courtesy Mark McBeth.


The TOMBOIGATOEYMANGO project started as a series of short film episodes, which later led to the creation of THE PACKAGE TOUR. A live performance experiment was presented at a work-in-progress showing as part of the Subterranean Performance Investigation Salon #1 at Subterranean Arthouse in Berkeley on September 19, 2010.

I wanted to make a performance piece about “authenticity,” specifically to complicate the question of whether or not I can make “authentic” claims to either Thainess or whiteness, masculinity or femininity, maleness or femaleness in their “pure,” “original” forms, as a trans/genderqueer person of mixed race continually in the process of reclaiming and embodying these identities. Since my body “queers” the borders of race and gender, the identities I inhabit often feel like destinations to which I can never fully arrive or belong, so I often feel like a tourist to my own transitions and transformations. Like a tourist, I have had to learn about and maintain a connection to myself through Thai restaurants, guidebooks, language tapes, the colonizer’s authorial gaze and YouTube. I wanted to create the setting of a travel agency within which to reenact these “authentic” claims and performances of identity as a kind of identity tourism, by watching myself and mimicking multiple forms of media.

I also wanted to think about “authenticity” in terms of the country, and how colonizers and tourists fetishize the simplicity of village life as being symbolic of a culture, and a euphoric “return” to that scene, which actually no longer exists in such a “pure,” uncolonized state and is often manufactured specifically for tourist consumption. These scenes are also embedded with images of “pure” femininity and femaleness, which become part of how Thailand essentializes Thainess by constructing a national Thai identity as a package tour. I use the music of Dutch singer Christy Gibson, who is praised for her performances of luk tung and mor lam, Thai and Thai/Lao music from the more rural northeastern provinces, to think about this question of mastery with regards to language and culture.

What was discussed in the feedback session centered around exclusion, distance, layering and presence, restlessness and transport, and what it means to watch me (in real time) watch myself perform (in the past).


Credits for media used (in order of appearance)

1) Video: Titles for the lakorn Luk Sao Gamnan
2) Sound: Educational Services Teaching Cassettes, Language/30, Thai
3) Video: TOMBOIGATOEYMANGO Episode 3 (draft) – Jai Arun Ravine
4) Sound: Huk Tae Sao Eesaan – Christy Gibson
5) Spoken Text: Se-ed’s Modern Thai-English Dictionary, Mini Edition
6) Spoken Text: Cities of the World: Bangkok – James Kirkup, 1968
7) Video: TOMBOIGATOEYMANGO Episode 2 – Jai Arun Ravine
8) Video: Siam Mueang Yim – Christy Gibson
9) Sound: Loop that samples a track from Thailand: Lao Music of the Northeast – lucy e parsonz


TOMBOI GATOEY MANGO Episode 2 (2010)

I opened a travel agency so I could teleport back to an imagined gurlhood, a lost destination where I could perform a like gay likay, a corny lakorn to morn an illegible phaghood and paint my fingernails. This is a VDO brochure for Episode 2 of the ongoing drama TOMBOIGATOEYMANGO. Some costume elements by Iraya Robles. Music by Fong Naam, “Chin” Chinawut Indracusin and K-OTIC. Duration: 5 minutes.

Screenings

My People Film Series Shorts Program presented by the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater in Pittsburgh, PA, November 8, 2011

TOMBOI GATOEY MANGO Episode 1 (2010)

This video is about the way my mother peels mangoes and the meanings of กะเทย/”gatoey.” I read a definition of กะเทย/”gatoey” (more commonly transliterated as “kathoey”) from Se-Ed’s Modern Thai-English Dictionary, and a passage from Toms and Dees: Transgender Identity and Female Same-Sex Relationships in Thailand by Megan J. Sinnott. I use part of “Sao Dok Kum Tai,” a track from Thai Pop Spectacular: 1960s-1980s. Duration: 3 minutes.

Screenings

(Un)spoken Intersections [Curated by Juli Saragosa} @ Performigrations, VIVO Media Arts, Vancouver, BC (August 22, 2015)

Food Diaspora / Speisediaspora Film Program [Curated by Juli Saragosa] @ Innovate Heritage International Conference, Berlin, Germany (June 6-8, 2014)

My People Film Series Shorts Program presented by the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater in Pittsburgh, PA, November 8, 2011