New sensation

18 02 2017

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Thailand led the world in embracing internet-sensation-du-jour, the headbanging “trash dove” – now more sinisterly co-opted by white nationalists online.





Bangkok: design city

18 02 2017

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The Thai capital continues to blossom as a design force with this co-working space in the Habito mall recently awarded a prestigious prize from Archdaily magazine for “Best interior of 2017”.

Below, street art from Lisbon artist Vhils on the wall of the historic Portuguese embassy, marking the four hundred year old ties between Thailand and Portugal, one of its first Western traders, who left a now-almost-vanished expat community on the Thonburi side of the river for centuries.

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Subhashok The Art Centre, an impressive concrete structure in the leafy Sukhumvit hinterland, is another addition to the city’s growing and impressive art scene, with mural by Cece Nobre.

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And finally hair salon Klinsuwan reconnect with the city’s Southeast Asian roots, through walls of golden bamboo.

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New sensation

12 02 2017

He has got the voice of an angel, the looks of a K-pop idol and an octave range to bother Mariah Carey: Kazakh singer Dimash Kudaibergenov is the breakout star of this season of China’s hugely popular singing contest “I Am A Singer.” The series has cannily adjusted the usual X Factor format to pit professional, established singers from across the Chinese speaking world against each other, bringing with them their various fan-bases and offering the singers the chance to hit the RMB jackpot on the Mainland. So there are Taiwanese rockers, HK balladeers and the hitherto unknown-outside-of-Central-Asia Dimash who wowed the world’s biggest country with his inaugural performance of a song by Russian singer Vitas (above) and instantly established himself as the one to beat. I’ll be cheering for him.





Cholita sound

12 02 2017





China Beach to Neighbouring Sounds

7 02 2017

The US primetime series China Beach, set in Vietnam War-era Danang, which I used to watch as a young teenager for the theme song, which I only later realised was by the Supremes. And below: another strange cinematic echo of Danang. While walking through the beachside streets my boyfriend remarked how much it reminded him of the Brazilian movie “Neighbouring Sounds”, set in Recife, with its beaches like Danang floodlit at night, fringed by palms and pounded by surf, and the same wide sunny streets with uneasy hints of tension between the rich and poor (after all, who had lived here before all these hotels?)





Hear me roar

14 01 2017

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A new show will start next week at one of Hong Kong’s most beautiful exhibition spaces, the Asia Society. It explores the role of the lion as a symbol in Asian art. The show is centred around a rare and mysterious treasure which has been brought to Hong Kong especially, the Mari-Cha Lion.

This metal statue, dating from the eleventh century, was found in Italy but believed to be of Middle Eastern origin. It is hollow, and according to some theories, was designed to decorate the roof of a palace where it would “roar” as the wind blew. Similar ornaments are known to have existed in Yemen at the time.

Interesting stuff.

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Unfortunately the exhibition will not be showing the similar, but even more striking, griffin of Pisa, which is also of mysterious Middle Eastern origin but has resided in the city of Pisa, perhaps brought back as spoils of an overseas war, since the thirteenth century. At over one metre tall, it is the largest metal sculpture known from the Islamic Middle Ages.





Kiki Hitomi’s reggae-enka beat

10 01 2017