2016-17 One Year residency in KfW Stiftung at Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin.

EXHIBITION FROM 24.05. – 18.06.2017

• EXIT-ENTRANCE, 2016-2017

I am interested in how one’s background, self-improvement, adaptation and response to the political environment make up one’s way of living and staying.

This work series communicates through a conversation that focuses on the ingredients and mixtures of Thailand, Germany, Vietnam, religion, livelihood, otherness, and gender as defined by customs and places one live in. It studies the juxtaposition of nationhood and nationality as well as the difference in the states of being in the worldly world, the Dhamma world, and the spiritual territory.

All of this is an experiment to live with the confronting conversation, the visual and sound of the situation that we should try to understand, hear, listen, and see, in order to make sense of different ways of living.

All the artworks featured in the exhibition are are the visual and sound elements of a four-language conversation. It is presented in the form of installation of pattern images on the wall, which were designed from a conversation in Thai, German, English, and Vietnamese. It is the conversation between 10 people: a Thai monk, a Thai nun, a Thai anthropologist, a Thai woman, a German woman, a German anthropologist, a German man who ordained in a Thai temple in Berlin, a Vietnamese nun, and a Vietnamese woman, all of whom live in both Asia and Europe.

Listen here

reading at home

a Thai nun
I live in Berlin for 28 years. I’m Thai, mother of 5 children. I work in gastronomy as a waitress. I have 2 children from my first marriage with my ex south Vietnamese husband and 3 children with my north Vietnamese husband.

a Thai monk
I’m monk from Thailand. I, พระมหาสังวรญ์ สํวรญาโณ (Phramahasangworn Sangwarayano), am a monk from Chiangmai, I was a novice since 13 years old, and entered monkshood since 21. I took compulsory studies for monks, which are dharma and theology. I also had a chance to study secularly at Chiangmai University and have bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and master’s degree in buddhist studies.

a Thai nun
Sawasdeeka I’m a nun, a Thai nun. I live here in Berlin already 30 years and I have family here. My children are all grown up. I went to temple and took 3 years to be a nun.

a German anthropologist
I’m Asian researcher and also interpreter. I know Thai, Vietnamese and Laos, I also publish an academic journal for Thai people. Thai peoples live in many countries, in southeast Asia but also in southern china and northeastern from India.

a Vietnamese nun
I was born in Quang Nam, Central of Vietnam. But I grew up in Saigon, the south of Vietnam. In 2001 I came to Germany and lived in Berlin.

a German man who ordained in a Thai temple in Berlin
I’m สันตุสโถภิกขุ(Santutho bhikkhu),I’m ordained as Bhikkhu for almost three years and living here almost three years as well in Wat Thai, Thai cultural association, and i’m totally satisfied here.  
       

a German woman
Sawasdeeka I’m German. 

a Vietnamese woman
I’m Vietnamese, born in November 1986 in Vietnam. I had lived there until 14 then I got a chance to come to Germany. I came here with my aunt. She fled with her husband and her son 30 years ago from Vietnam war and came to Germany in the end. 
   

a Thai anthropologis
just think about this, there are two forces pulling each other, at one side you can express yourself, your identity as much as you want, but the other side there also pulls you into the german-ness. That’s why Berlin is really interesting for me. Berlin is not German but Berlin is Berlin, which makes the grman identity in Berlin interesting. People here can be German and be Asian, Taiwanese, Vietnamese or Thai at the same time.
             

a Thai woman
after that I got to know Vietnamese, he’s south Vietnamese. I thought that we have something in common, our hair colour, our skin colour. Our cultures are similar, I think. It made me feel good being together with him, but I didn’t sure if it was the right feeling. After three and half years we’re separated. Then I met a new guy, he’s also from Vietnam, North Vietnam, after that we’re living together as a couple, like another Families. It’s been 17 years since then. We have three kids and we speak german at home. For my children it’s their mother language. We use german 90 percent at home. I feel happy living here in Berlin. It feels like home to me. I think I might be a German, half German half Asian. Sometimes I ask myself if I’m already German or I’m still Asian, still Thai. 
           

a German anthropologist
Asians nowadays in Germany have many faces. The Asian are visiting, moving here all the time. They are working here, or got married with Farang(foreigner) here, apart of that, there is religion. There are Thai temple, many buddhist temples in Germany.
    But at this point we can see that western cultures are not only cultures of Western, they are changing to be cultures of Asian too.
   

a Thai nun
Move back to Thailand? I didn’t think about it, because it’s impossible. I have my family and children here, and I also live here for a long time, it feel already like home for me. I think this might be my place, I won’t move back to Thailand. As I’m ordained here, go to temples, helping them, I feel like my life comes to the point that I should leave secular world. I live for a long time, I’ve seen and done everything. So I move to dharma world. My heart has faith in it.

a German man who ordained in a Thai temple in Berlin
Learning, just only learning is one thing. Understanding, what you’ve learned, is completely another thing. Understanding means awareness, Buddhism is based on awareness. It’s awareness oriented. It means wisdom, that’s from realising not just knowing. Knowledge alone couldn’t reach it. One must recognise oneself. The word วิปัสสนา (Vipassana) is not just a thing. It’s a form of awareness, it means looking thorough not looking on. Normally we just looking on things here and there, but there are things that we should look thorough. Looking thorough not looking on, that’s the difference. 
                   

a German anthropologist
I think rituals in buddhism are something from an ancient religion, animism. They worship spirits, doing many rituals. There’re also new rituals which support politics and urban organisation. 

a German anthropologist
Thai Temples are important to thais, mostly. they service thais in this country but other than that, they have a mission to spread the knowledge about the religion, about buddhism in german community or anyone that are interested.
   

a Thai woman
when we say about thai temple, when I go to thai temple then it’s like a part of Thailand. Temple and Thailand belong together. When one says about Thailand then it’s also about Temple. There are so many temples in Thailand, too much of them. But when I live here in Berlin and go to the temple I feel like I’m in Thailand. there are many different ceremonies, event there, It makes me feel good to be there. Since I was young I’ve learn to pray in the school, that’s belong together when people say about Thailand. We are buddhists and Thailand and temples belong together. The nI go there I feel a bit like I’m at home.
 

a Thai woman
There’re many temples but temple is temple for me. I can go to any temples I want. When my friends invite me to this temple I go with them, I also go the temple I usually go. I don’t need any events or festivals to go to temples just to meet people. I go there to have peace in mind, to get wisdom. I feel like it cleanses my heart.
                                               

a Thai nun
Temple is an assumption and also a reality, it’s up to how you look at it. For me it’s both. I think sometimes temple is too much, you won’t know the purposes from people that visit there. I go there on my own. Temple is like, something inside dharma. It has already doctrines in itself.  
   

a Vietnamese nun 
Many Vietnamese people came to Europe after 1975 especially in Germany. In 2001 there were many Vietnamese people in Berlin. They were from many different places in Vietnam. They were refugees that came because of political reason or for labour. Since there are so many Vietnamese in Berlin and they in need of something spiritual, religious or cultural. But in Germany or Berlin there was just a few nuns or monks. That’s why I am here. First, I study German and then to help the Vietnamese people and then the German on spiritual issues.

a German woman
What I have missed from Thailand are rather small things and of course the people, the kindness, apart from that are something small and not so specific that I can describe. And when I was there I missed the opportunities, I got a feeling that despite everything in the city there’re not many opportunities there to expand my mind or experiences like in Berlin.

a Thai woman
But my husband, he is buddhist. his parents are buddhists but his belief, I think he stands in the middle. He’s not against any religions, if is Islam, muslims or buddhism. He isn’t against it but he also doesn’t do it right like me. I go to temple and he comes with me sometimes or take me there. About his belief, he believes in himself. He think by himself what is good for him and he pray by himself without going to temple. But when I have problem or really sad then I think if I go to temple, it can help me really good. How far my kids know about temple, not so much. When I go to temple I cook something or buy candles and bring it with me, they know about this, but they didn’t do it together with me or come with me. But I think in the future I want to teach it to my children, that buddhist beliefs aren’t so bad, because it helps me. I read and listen to the teaching from buddha, when you read or listen to it then you feel really good. When people go to the temple then they can easily get rid of their anger and unhappiness and feel happier when they go back home. Then they’ll come to themselves and know better how to solve their problems. These are things I want to convey to my children, so they’ll know when they have problems in their lives.
            

a Thai monk
When broken-hearted people come to talk with monks and novices, they come to find their peace. They think monks and novices won’t tell their problems to another people. It’s not weird at all, they come to talk with us because they think we are friends who can help them from their sorrow, which in reality, in monk’s life, it’s the thing we usually do.

a Thai nun
It’s just an assumption, entering the nun-hood is just an imaginary thing. It’s a thing from secular world. We became nun to study and practice buddhism. 
                  

a Thai monk
Everyone performs meritorious acts to become Arahant. In the end we still have desires, but monks, novices and nuns have more chance to refine their desires than the laity because we don’t have many struggles. Being a monk or novice you don’t have to work, the other will take care of you.  
       

a Thai nun
I think temple is the center of people’s minds who go there. For people who are suffering, either bodies or minds, temple is a place to rest. In foreign countries, temple is the second home for us, not just Thais but for every nationalities who comes to the temple. 
 

a Vietnamese nun 
In Thailand there is Theravada but in Vietnam there is Mahayana. The people in white costumes are not nuns or monks. In Thailand, there is Theravada Buddhism while in Vietnam the majority is Mahayana Buddhism. In Mahayana Buddhism, there’s not so much different between nuns and monks.

a Vietnamese nun 
Maybe the belief of the women is stronger than men. Buddhism is a merciful and intellectual religion. But for people to enter any religion, the first entrance is belief. And for women normally their belief is stronger than men. During the training time for being a monk or a nun, the monk is also very good. But first to enter the pagoda entrance, the women would often come more. In my opinion, I think the women’s belief is stronger than men. Even when they first entered and didn’t understand, the women live upon their beliefs more than men.

a Thai monk
Occupation in for monk means ways of life. I think monk is also an occupation from this meaning, so for other people, monk is not an occupation but a way of life.
    

a Thai nun
Nun’s duties are to practice and study dharma, learn what Ajahn teach us, and when we are in temples we also do another duties there what we can do.
 

a Thai nun
Nuns don’t get salary, it’s a volunteering.
 

a Vietnamese nun 
Normally when I fill in any official document forms, there is a space for occupation. I will write “nun”. And I describe it as I mental caretaker for Vietnamese people. But it’s not an occupation. To become a Buddhist is for oneself only. I will help other people and try to bring them happiness. But it’s not a job.

a Vietnamese nun
Both nuns and monks have to do the same thing. The monks can help with house works as well such as cleaning or cooking. There’s no difference. Maybe in Vietnam, women have to do most of the cooking or housework but here it’s not like that. For example, on some occasions the monks will help cooking because the pan is big and the men are stronger. The men and women do equal work.

a Vietnamese nun
I think that being a nun is really good. I am happy and help other people.

a Thai woman
We go to temple to pay respect to buddha and monks, we don’t think much about nuns. Nuns come in the second place. But for people who go to practice there often, they’re quite close to nuns, I think.     

a Thai woman
When people ask me what is the difference. There’re different Responsibilities between monk and แม่ชี(Mae Shee) I don’t know how to call it in german, the woman in white dress. Well we we call them nun, thai nun. 
   

a Thai nun
The only way to stay here is to have german partner.

a Thai nun
I don’t think it’s different. In temple we live with precepts and morals. When we go outside we are still being ourselves, when we come back to the temple it’s not different. Temple has precepts to take care of us. Precepts control us, keep us in the way. They’re with us everywhere we go.
   

a Vietnamese nun
Being a nun is so happy. When I first entered the pagoda, I was so small and I didn’t’ understand a lot of Buddha’s teaching. But the life inside the pagoda made me happy. Then I grew up and had a chance to learn Buddha’s teachings. I could feel the life inside the pagoda and the life outside. Then I try to apply the Buddha’s teachings in life so I can bring peace for myself and everyone else.
 

a Thai woman
Yes, that’s also a question on thai wives or me, if thai wives are happy or not. I personally think that thai wives who’re living here are unhappy. There big problem is homesick. they missed their parents, their children and their home because most of them came here when they’re already adults. Personally I think they’re unhappy because they’re living with german husband who they don’t love. They don’t love their husbands but they need something from them. They need Visa, working permit, and of course money. They come here for better living quality and safety than in Thailand or to support their families, brothers or sisters, because they have really close ties to their families. I think they have pressure to do all of these but they can’t choose. They don’t have any choices and that make thai women here unhappy.

a Thai monk
Happy or not, at the end it’s just individual.  
               

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