France Morin, John Alan Farmer, and Kate Elizabeth Crouse
The fully illustrated version of this timeline is published in France Morin and John Alan Farmer, eds., The Quiet in the Land: Luang Prabang, Laos (New York: The Quiet in the Land, Inc., 2009). This book is distributed by D.A.P. / Distributed Art Publishers.
The population of Laos is 5,921,545. Life expectancy at birth is 54.23 years.
Accompanied by Thai contemporary art curator Gridthiya Jeab Gaweewong, France Morin visits Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam to investigate the possibility of organizing a project in a series of sites in the Mekong River region. During their visit to Vientiane and Luang Prabang, Morin’s first, they meet with government officials, community leaders, and art professionals.
March 19. U.S. President George W. Bush launches the invasion of Iraq by coalition forces.
Morin decides to base the proposed project in Luang Prabang.
May 1. President George W. Bush announces from the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln the end of major combat in Iraq. A banner behind him declares “Mission Accomplished.”
June 4. Two European journalists and their Hmong-American translator are arrested in Laos. They are seized after meeting with a group of Hmong fighters who have struggled against the Lao government since 1975.
October 17. UNESCO’s General Conference adopts the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
December 13. The U.S. 4th Infantry Division captures Saddam Hussein in Tikrit, Iraq.
December 26. A 6.6 magnitude earthquake strikes in southeastern Iran, destroying most of the city of Bam, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over 40,000 people are killed.
There are 894,806 tourist arrivals in Laos, and tourist revenues total $118,947,707 (Lao National Tourism Administration, Visitor Arrival Statistics 2007).
Morin makes a two-month visit to Vientiane and Luang Prabang to present the project proposal to the Lao government.
The Lao government reports the first cases in Laos of the H5N1 avian influenza virus among poultry.
The Governor of Luang Prabang approves the project, which will operate under the High Patronage of the Department of Information and Culture of Luang Prabang.
Morin locates a rental house that will serve as the project’s base in Luang Prabang and signs a lease on behalf of The Quiet in the Land.
Morin meets Phra Acharn Onekeo Sitthivong, now Abbot of Vat Xieng Thong, Vat Pak Khane, and Vat Pha O, and artist Hans Georg Berger for the first time. Sathou Nyai Onekeo encourages Berger to participate in the project by photographically documenting the historic Vipassana Meditation Retreat for the Sangha of Luang Prabang that he is organizing for December 2004.
Morin meets with Richard Engelhardt, UNESCO Regional Advisor for Culture in Asia and the Pacific, and Heather Peters, UNESCO Consultant, to discuss a collaboration with the UNESCO project Cultural Survival and Revival in the Buddhist Sangha: Documentation, Education, and Training to Revitalize Traditional Decorative Arts and Building Crafts in the Temples of Asia.
The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency acknowledges that there was no imminent threat to the United States from weapons of mass destruction before the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
February 7–12. UNESCO holds a conference in Luang Prabang in connection with its project Fighting Poverty Through Heritage. Morin presents a paper on The Quiet in the Land’s proposed project.
Morin finalizes the list of artists who will participate in the project.
Morin develops the idea of funding the project in part through the publication of a limited edition portfolio of photographs by the participating artists.
Sayo Laos Business, Travel and Lifestyle Magazine, a monthly magazine published in Vientiane and targeted at foreign residents, tourists, and monied locals in Laos, launches. With articles on art, culture, fashion, travel, and business, it is one of the first “lifestyle” magazines for individuals with disposable incomes to be published in the country.
March 11. Simultaneous explosions on rush-hour trains in Madrid kill 190 people.
April 20. Morin invites Ingrid Muan, founder and co-director of Reyum, Institute of Arts and Culture, Phnom Penh, to work with the project.
April 28. The U.S. television program 60 Minutes II airs a report on the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison.
Morin returns to Luang Prabang to attend a UNESCO conference on the Cultural Survival and Revival in the Buddhist Sangha project.
Morin coordinates the renovation of the Project House, where she, the artists, and guests of the project will live and work while in Luang Prabang. On a pro bono basis, Luang Prabang–based architect Pascal Trahan supervises the renovation; and New York–based architect James Mohn designs the furniture, which is built in Luang Prabang. Vanpheng Keopannha, then Curator of Collections, Luang Prabang National Museum; Acharn Ounheuane Soukkhaseum, Professor, Luang Prabang Fine Arts School and other professors from the school; and Sandra Yuck, Director, Caruso Lao, a boutique in Luang Prabang, also assist.
Morin travels to Chiang Mai, Thailand, to meet with Uthit Atimana, then Director, Chiang Mai University Art Museum, to discuss developing a collaboration with The Quiet in the Land.
The U.S. State Department issues a Public Announcement advising U.S. citizens of continuing security concerns in Laos. It notes that since 2000 there have been periodic attacks on markets, two bus stations, all forms of ground transportation, border checkpoints, and other public places, as well as bombings in Vientiane and other cities and armed attacks on vehicles on the road from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang.
July 3. UNESCO announces that the World Heritage Committee has inscribed 34 new sites (29 cultural sites and 5 natural sites) on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. This brings to 788 the number of sites listed (611 cultural sites, 154 natural sites, and 23 mixed sites).
Morin returns to Luang Prabang with John Alan Farmer to set up the Project House. They also travel to Chiang Mai to meet with Uthit Atimana.
First visit of Rirkrit Tiravanija, which takes place before the project has officially begun.
Thai soldiers detain over 1,500 Hmong refugees from Laos who are living in Tham Krabok, a refugee camp in central Thailand. A Thai military official states that the detainees failed to meet a registration deadline for resettlement in the United States and proceeded to a local police station to demand permission to immigrate.
The project officially begins.
October 28. The Lao government outlines the reforms it has undertaken in its efforts to become a member of the World Trade Organization.
October 29–30. Boun Ok Phansa. Vithi Phanichpant, Professor of Art History, Chiang Mai University, visits the project and writes a short text on the celebration that is published in the first issue of the project’s newsletter.
First residency of Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba. He visits various communities and sites and presents lectures on his work to students from the Luang Prabang Fine Arts School and other members of the community.
First residency of Hans Georg Berger, which extends through December. In collaboration with the Sangha, he photographs the Sangha’s historic Vipassana Meditation Retreat, the first of a series of annual retreats organized to revitalize the practice of Vipassana meditation among the Sangha.
Morin begins to teach English to Phra Acharn Onekeo Sitthivong at Vat Pak Khane.
November 28–29. Laos, as Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), hosts the organization’s tenth annual summit in Vientiane. Unprecedented security measures are implemented.
President George W. Bush signs into law a bill extending Normal Trade Relations to Laos, allowing Lao producers to benefit from lower tariffs on exports to the United States.
December 12. A tak bat at Vat Phone Pao, attended by thousands of local residents, is organized to herald the beginning of the Vipassana Meditation Retreat, which takes place over the next several days in a forest monastery near Santi Stupa on the outskirts of Luang Prabang. 402 monks and novices attend.
December 26. A 9.3 magnitude earthquake, centered off the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, generates a massive tsunami that inundates coastal areas of numerous South Asian and Southeast Asian nations. Over 180,000 people are killed.
There are 1,095,315 tourist arrivals in Laos, and total tourist revenues are $146,770,074; there are 133,569 tourist arrivals in Luang Prabang (Lao National Tourism Administration, Visitor Arrival Statistics 2007).
Carol Becker, then Dean of Faculty/Vice-President for Academic Affairs, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Jeffrey Skoller, then Professor of Film, SAIC, visit the project. SAIC donates two computers to the Luang Prabang Fine Arts School.
January 20. President George W. Bush is inaugurated in Washington, D.C. for his second term as U.S. President.
January 24–28. Morin, Vanpheng Keopannha, and Francis Engelmann meet with Carol Cassidy, Rassanikone Nanong, and Somsanouk Mixay in Vientiane to discuss organizing an exhibition of historical and contemporary textiles at the Luang Prabang National Museum.
January 29. Ingrid Muan dies.
First residency of Dinh Q. Lê, Nithakhong Somsanith, and Catherine Choron-Baix, Anthropologist, CNRS, Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Urbaine, Paris. Lê and Somsanith present lectures on their work to art students, monks and novices of the Cultural Revival and Survival in the Buddhist Sangha project, the weaving community, and the general community. Somsanith, one of the only active practitioners of the Lao courtly art of gold-and-silver-thread embroidery, begins a two-month workshop on the art for local weavers at the Project House. Choron-Baix screens her film on Somsanith, Mémoire d’or, mémoire de soie (Memories of Gold, Memories of Silk), at the Project House.
Ralph Samuelson, Senior Advisor, Asian Cultural Council, New York, and his wife visit the project.
February 14. Sukhuan (ceremony of blessing) of the Project House. The ceremony includes the preparation of offerings, the recitation of blessings, and a sermon by Phra Acharn Onekeo Sitthivong, and it is followed by a lunch. Nine monks and nine novices participate, as do the participants in the project and neighbors, who prepare the offerings and the meal.
February 16. The Kyoto Protocol enters into force. It is ratified by Laos in 2003, but has not been ratified by the United States.
February 18. Harald Szeemann, a Swiss curator who organized numerous ground-breaking exhibitions, including When Attitudes Become Form and documenta 5, dies. He was an inspiration for Morin’s curatorial work.
Ida Panicelli, former editor of the U.S. art magazine Artforum, and a long-time friend of Morin’s, visits the project with Francesca Mazzoleni.
March 11–13. Boun Pha Vet at Vat Pak Khane.
First residency of Vong Phaophanit. He begins a one-year collaboration with three art students from the Luang Prabang Fine Arts School.
Somsanouk Mixay visits the project.
David Rosenberg, art historian and Professor, Université de Vincennes, Paris 8—Saint Denis, visits Luang Prabang with 13 students: Anaïs Bourquin, Benjamin Chassagne, Aude François, Rafael Hess, Adèle Jeandupeux, Cécile Lathuillière, Renata Manso, Maya Mizrahi, Catherine Ramus, Jihane Soua, Jennifer Taieb, Jessy Tech, and Romain Terrière. The students share their knowledge of contemporary art and computer graphics with the students of the Luang Prabang Fine Arts School. With the assistance of Laurent Martial, European Community representative for micro-projects, they donate clothing and toys to the villages of Houey On and Boun Lao. At the culmination of their visit, they donate two computers and a scanner to the art school. Artamplitude publishes a 64-page book on their experience titled Destination Luang Prabang.
Construction of Nam Theun 2, a large hydroelectric dam located on a tributary of the Mekong River, begins. Funded in part by the Asian Development Bank, it is expected to raise billions of dollars in income from the production of electricity to be exported to Thailand, but critics claim that it will have adverse environmental impacts and will disrupt the lives of displaced villagers.
First residency of Ann Hamilton. She is accompanied by her husband Michael Merrill and son Emmett.
Grant Evans, author of The Politics of Ritual and Remembrance: Laos Since 1975, A Short History of Laos: The Land in Between, and other books on Laos visits the project to work with Hamilton.
The Quiet in the Land produces and distributes a poster offering guidance on respecting the tak bat, a Buddhist tradition for the people of Luang Prabang that has attracted a growing number of tourists drawn to its beauty. The poster features a photograph of the almsround by Hans Georg Berger and a text in Chinese, English, French, Japanese, Lao, and Thai. To produce the poster, The Quiet in the Land coordinates the participation of numerous stakeholders, including the Department of Information and Culture, Luang Prabang; the Department of Tourism, Luang Prabang; the Lao Buddhist Fellowship Organization, Luang Prabang; and Maison du Patrimoine (Heritage House).
China and Laos sign an agreement anticipated to dramatically increase the number of Chinese tourists to Laos.
July 7. Four explosions occur in London, three in the subway system and one on a bus. 56 people die and over 700 are injured.
July 12. The Quiet in the Land’s Supervising Committee meets in Luang Prabang. In attendance are Vanpheng Keopannha; Bounkhong Khutthao, Deputy Director, Department of Information and Culture, Luang Prabang; Morin; Singkham Phommalat, President and Director, Department of Information and Culture, Luang Prabang; Luk Singkhamtanh, Director, Luang Prabang Fine Arts School; Acharn Sipanh, Lao Front for National Construction; Ouane Sirisack, Director, Maison du Patrimoine (Heritage House); Heng Lo Savanh, Deputy Director, Department of Education; and Phra Acharn Onekeo Sitthivong.
July 27. Morin distributes copies of Patrice Ladwig’s Small Lao-English Dictionary of Religious and Buddhist Terms to over 1,000 monks and novices of the Luang Prabang Buddhist Schools. The Quiet in the Land funded the printing of the dictionary’s second revised edition.
The Quiet in the Land becomes a tax-exempt organization, which enables it to apply for grants for the project without a fiscal sponsor.
Linda S. McIntosh, a scholar specializing in Southeast Asian textiles, visits the project to collaborate with Morin, Vanpheng Keopannha, and Francis Engelmann on an exhibition of historical and contemporary Lao textiles to be organized by The Quiet in the Land for the Luang Prabang National Museum.
Puang Champa Cultural House is founded in Luang Prabang. A center for traditional arts in Luang Prabang, its mission is to preserve, promote, and transmit the town’s cultural and artistic heritage.
August 7–16. Boreth Ly, a scholar of Southeast Asian and South Asian art and then Assistant Professor, Department of Art and Art History, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, visits the project. In collaboration with Vanpheng Keopannha, Patrice Bleton, and Morin, he interviews Manivong Khattiyarat, Luang Prabang’s most renowned living artist.
August 29. Hurricane Katrina makes landfall on the Louisiana coast. The third strongest hurricane on record to make landfall in the United States, it causes massive devastation. The inadequacy of the governmental response to the hurricane prompts widespread criticism and a congressional investigation.
September 10. Khamboua, the grandmother of Yannick Upravan, a restaurateur and businessperson in Luang Prabang and a friend of the project, dies. One of the oldest residents of Luang Prabang, she was over 100 years old.
September 30. Vanpheng Keopannha gives birth to her daughter, Ammay.
October 18–19. Boun Ok Phansa. The Quiet in the Land distributes materials to 24 monasteries and to the Children’s Cultural Center to make decorations.
First residencies of Cai Guo-Qiang and Allan Sekula; second residencies of Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba and Rirkrit Tiravanija. Sekula also visits the Plain of Jars in Xiang Khouane Province.
First residencies of Shahzia Sikander and Shirin Neshat, who is accompanied by Shoja Azari. Second visit of Grant Evans.
November 25. Enduring Hands, Globalized Eyes: Historical and Contemporary Lao Textiles, the first exhibition of both historical and contemporary Lao textiles to be presented in a Lao museum, opens at the Luang Prabang National Museum. Organized by The Quiet in the Land, the exhibition is curated by Vanpheng Keopannha, Linda S. McIntosh, and Morin in collaboration with Francis Engelmann. Nithakhong Somsanith is the exhibition designer. The exhibition is accompanied by a series of lectures by Keophanna, McIntosh, and Acharn Douangdeuane Bounyavong Viravong. UNESCO designates the exhibition an official event in its commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the Town of Luang Prabang’s designation as a World Heritage Site.
In connection with Enduring Hands, Globalized Eyes, The Quiet in the Land organizes a competition of contemporary Lao textiles created by weavers of Luang Prabang Province. The winners are Mr. Kheum Manichanh (Ban Phonexay), Ms. Bounsong (Ban Donekang), Ms. Chanh Noi (Ban Xang Khong), Ms. Nang (Ban Khom Kouang), Ms. Lan Noi (Ban Kouatinung), Ms. Noi (Ban Done Kang), and a group of women of the Handicraft Center (Ban Phanom). They receive cash prizes, and their textiles enter the collection of the Luang Prabang National Museum. The jury is composed of Linda S. McIntosh, Somsanouk Mixay, and Acharn Douangdeuane Bounyavong Viravong.
November 25–29. Morin attends the UNESCO National and International Seminar: Luang Prabang, a World Heritage City: Heritage and Sustainable Development, Evaluation and Perspectives, Ten Years After Its Inscription.
Second residency of Hans Georg Berger to photo-document the second Vipassana Meditation Retreat. 533 monks and novices attend the retreat.
There are 1,215,106 tourist arrivals in Laos, and total tourist revenues are $173,249,896; there are 151,703 tourist arrivals, 18 hotels, and 155 guest houses in Luang Prabang (Lao National Tourism Administration, Visitor Arrival Statistics 2007).
First residency of Janine Antoni. She is accompanied by her husband Paul Ramírez-Jonas and daughter Indra Maria.
Second residency of Allan Sekula.
Dinh Q. Lê and Nithakhong Somsanith meet in Vientiane.
Carol Becker, then Dean of Faculty/Vice-President for Academic Affairs, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, visits the project with 13 students as part of the SAIC’s Globalized City Study Trip, which also includes visits to Bangkok and Hanoi. The students are: Julianne Ahn, Marlena Bishop, Shanna Dempsey, Cayetano Ferrer, Barry Harmon, Seth Hunter, Alexandra Jones, Thuy Ngo, Rosemarie Noone, Diana Nucera, Yogi Proctor, Manuel Sanchez, and Jean Seestadt. They collaborate with students from the Luang Prabang Fine Arts School.
Lorenz Bäumer, a renowned jeweler based in Paris and a friend of The Quiet in the Land, visits the project to research the design for the clasp he will create for the case of the limited edition portfolio.
January 17. Allan Sekula breaks his leg while filming in the countryside. He is hospitalized in Luang Prabang and is then transferred to Bumrungrad International Hospital, Bangkok.
Keith Recker, then Chair of the Board of Directors of The Quiet in the Land; James Mohn; John Alan Farmer; and Luong T. Ly visit the project.
February 27. Enduring Hands, Globalized Eyes: Historical and Contemporary Lao Textiles closes at the Luang Prabang National Museum.
Third residency of Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba. He presents his previous films at the Project House to students from the Luang Prabang Fine Arts School and other community members.
April 20. UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage enters into force.
Second residency of Vong Phaophanit. He is accompanied by his wife and artistic collaborator Claire Oboussier and their children, Savanh and Chanthila.
In collaboration with Maison du Patrimoine (Heritage House), The Quiet in the Land begins the renovation of galleries at the Luang Prabang National Museum in preparation for an exhibition of works produced in connection with the project.
June 8. Choummaly Sayasone takes office as President of Laos, and Bouasone Bouphavanh takes office as Prime Minister.
July 14. Katherine Recker-Mohn, the daughter of Keith Recker, then Chair of the Board of Directors of The Quiet in the Land, and James Mohn, is born.
First residency of Marina Abramović, accompanied by Paolo Canevare; second residency of Shahzia Sikander.
October 6–13. Reunion of more than 50 individuals associated with the project—staff, artists, scholars, funders, and friends—takes place in Luang Prabang. Participants include Brian Antoni, Indra Maria Ramírez Antoni, Janine Antoni, Lynette Antoni, Robert Antoni, Geraldine Baümer, Lorenz Baümer, Carol Becker, Hans Georg Berger, Ann Birks, Kimberly Birks, Gérard Bloch, Catherine Choron-Baix, Francis Engelmann, Gridthiya Jeab Gaweewong, Ann Hamilton, Christine Julliard, Cyril Julliard, Manivong Khattiyarat, Dinh Q. Lê, Brigitte Le Chatelier, Alain Le Gaillard, Martine Le Gaillard, Régine Lemoyne-Darthois, Outh Litthavong, Boreth Ly, Leanne Mella, Somsanouk Mixay, France Morin, Rassanikone Nanong, Vithi Phanichpant, Vong Phaophanit, Paul Ramírez-Jonas, David Rosenberg, Allan Sekula, Ruby Shang, Shahzia Sikander, Nithakhong Somsanith, and Rirkrit Tiravanija.
October 7. Exhibition of the works of Janine Antoni, Hans Georg Berger, Ann Hamilton, Manivong Khattiyarat, Dinh Q. Lê and Nithakhong Somsanith, Vong Phaophanit, Allan Sekula, and Shahzia Sikander opens at the Luang Prabang National Museum. The exhibition is accompanied by tours in Lao for secondary school, university, and art students, as well as monks and novices and the general population.
The Floating Buddha, a book by Hans Georg Berger documenting the Vipassana Meditation Retreats of 2004 and 2005, is published.
First Steps of Vipassana Meditation: A Guide for the Young People of Laos, with text by Phra Acharn Onekeo Sitthivong and photographs by Hans Georg Berger, is published in collaboration with The Quiet in the Land. Over the next two years, 10,000 free copies are distributed to monasteries throughout Laos by the National Library of Laos.
The Quiet in the Land: Art, Spirituality, and Everyday Life, Luang Prabang, Lao PDR, a limited edition portfolio produced to help fund the project, is launched. Each portfolio includes 12 photographic diptychs by 12 of the participating artists presented in a clamshell box covered in hand-woven silk designed by Carol Cassidy, with a clasp designed by Lorenz Bäumer. It is published by The Quiet in the Land and printed by Laumont in an edition of 50, plus 16 hors commerce and two printer’s proofs.
October 8–9. Boun Ok Phansa. The Quiet in the Land distributes to 24 monasteries and the Children’s Cultural Center materials to make decorations.
October 17. Marcia Tucker, former Director of the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, dies. Morin worked with her during her tenure as Senior Curator at the museum from 1989 to 1994.
October 24. Béatrice Pelzer-McCallum, Morin’s grandniece, is born.
Fourth residency of Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba. He shoots the final scene of his film, which features a flotilla of 50 boats motoring down the Mekong River.
About 400 Hmong, remnants of a guerilla army that fought the Pathet Lao during the Vietnam War, surrender to the Lao government.
The U.S. death toll in Iraq reaches 3,000.
Third Vipassana Meditation Retreat of the Sangha of Luang Prabang.
December 30. Saddam Hussein is executed in Baghdad.
December 31. A series of explosions in Bangkok kills three people.
There are 1,623,943 tourist arrivals in Laos, and total tourist revenues are $233,304,695; there are 186,819 tourist arrivals, 21 hotels, and 203 guest houses in Luang Prabang (Lao National Tourism Administration, Visitor Arrival Statistics 2007).
The United Nations announces that more than 34,000 Iraqi civilians died in 2006 as a result of the war.
February 27. The Lao government reports the first human case in Laos of infection with the H5N1 avian influenza virus.
John Alan Farmer and Luong T. Ly visit the project. Morin, Farmer, and Ly then visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Hoi An, Hue, and My Son in Vietnam.
May 12–13. Morin, Vong Phaophanit, and Allan Sekula discuss their work for The Quiet in the Land at the symposium The Situational Drive: Complexities of Public Sphere Engagement, organized by Creative Time, In Site, and Cooper Union and presented at Cooper Union in New York.
June 5. The New York Times reports that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations has arrested General Vang Pao and several other individuals, who are accused of plotting to overthrow the Lao government. The group allegedly planned to spend about $10 million to acquire weapons to attack government buildings in Vientiane and other sites in Laos. During the Vietnam War, Vang Pao had led the Hmong resistance to the Pathet Lao and was closely allied to the U.S. government.
The exhibition at the Luang Prabang National Museum of works produced in connection with The Quiet in the Land closes.
The Quiet in the Land’s limited edition portfolio is exhibited at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. in New York.
The Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre opens in Luang Prabang. A private, non-profit organization, it is a museum and resource center dedicated to the ethnic cultures of Laos that presents exhibitions featuring ethnic clothing, household objects, religious artifacts, and tools. The founders and co-directors are Tara Gujadhur and Thongkhoun Soutthivilay.
July 4–8. Laos is featured at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C.
July 9. Phra Khamchan Virachitta Maha Thera, Abbot of Vat Sene Soukharam since 1949 and an important figure in the history of Luang Prabang, dies at the age of 87.
August 17. A ceremony marking the official transfer of 20 drawings by Manivong Khattiyarat from his personal collection to the Luang Prabang National Museum takes place at the museum.
Rirkrit Tiravanija’s third residency. He and Uthit Atimana organize a series of educational programs in collaboration with Acharn Boungnalitsavong from the Luang Prabang Fine Arts School and local masters associated with the Cultural Survival and Revival in the Buddhist Sangha project.
Morin and John Alan Farmer visit Bhutan under the auspices of UNESCO to study the visual arts education system there and the differences between the Lao and the Bhutanese approaches to cultural preservation. They subsequently prepare a report for UNESCO on their findings.
The Lao and Chinese governments sign a $57.8 million loan agreement to upgrade Luang Prabang International Airport. A Chinese company will undertake the upgrade, which is planned to include the construction of a runway to accommodate wide-body jets, two taxiways, a new terminal, and an access road, among other improvements.
October 26–27. Boun Ok Phansa. The Quiet in the Land distributes to 24 monasteries and the Children’s Cultural Center materials to make decorations.
October 26–28. Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba presents his film, The Ground, the Root, and the Air: The Passing of the Bodhi Tree, at the Project House.
October 28. Ann Hamilton’s meditation boat is completed and blessed.
November 22–28. As part of a joint World Heritage Centre/International Council on Monuments and Sites mission, Giovanni Boccardi and William Logan visit Luang Prabang to assess the state of conservation of the World Heritage site. In addition to visiting the site, they meet with officials from Maison du Patrimoine (Heritage House) and the government.
December 9. In the New York Times article “The 53 Places to Go in 2008,” Denny Lee lists Laos as the number one destination. He writes: “Vietnam and Cambodia are so 2007. Now, Laos is shaping up to be Indochina’s next hot spot. [G]lobal nomads are heading to Luang Prabang to sample the Laotian tasting menu at 3 Nagas . . . or hang out by the infinity pool at the seriously upscale Résidence Phou Vao.”
December 27. Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is assassinated at a campaign rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. President Pervez Musharraf blames al Qaeda for the attack, in which 23 other people are killed. Bhutto’s supporters, however, accuse Musharraf’s government of involvement. Rioting throughout the country follows.
The population of Laos is 6,677,534. Life expectancy at birth is 56.29 years.
In exchange for agreeing to build an $80 million stadium on the outskirts of Vientiane in preparation for the South East Asia Games in 2009, the Lao government awards a concession to a Chinese company to develop a wetland area near the city into a residential and economic zone called That Luang Township, rumored to be reserved for thousands of Chinese families. The Lao government insists that the township will be open to Lao nationals and that t here will be no preference for Chinese.
Second residency of Marina Abramović, who travels to Luang Prabang with her crew to film for her video installation, 8 Lessons on Emptiness With a Happy End.
Alanna Heiss, then Executive Director, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in New York, visits the project. A concert in honor of Abramović and Heiss is presented by the Puang Champa Cultural House.
Third residency of Shahzia Sikander. She continues her series of portrait drawings of the monks and novices of Vat Xieng Thong and Vat Pak Khane.
February 13–14. Philippe Vergne, Director, Dia Art Foundation in New York, and Silvia Chivaratanond, independent curator, visit the project.
February 22. The new campus of Souphanouvong University, which was established in 2003, opens. Financed by South Korea at a cost of $8,500,000, it accommodates 1,000 students.
February 28–29. Ann Hamilton’s meditation boat is officially presented to the people of Luang Prabang.
March 2. A baci commemorating Morin’s departure from Luang Prabang takes place at the home of Francis Engelmann.
March 7. The Quiet in the Land closes the Project House.
March 6. The Mission Report of the joint World Heritage Centre/International Council on Monuments and Sites monitoring mission to Luang Prabang is published. It states that “increasing pressure from development poses significant risks for the future and has already led to a deterioration of the state of conservation of the World Heritage property . . . , in particular as regards its traditional Lao component.” To address these risks, it makes a series of recommendations.
Sabaidee Luang Prabang (Good Morning, Luang Prabang), the first feature film to be shot in Laos in over 20 years, is released. A Lao-Thai co-production, the film is a romance about a Lao-Australian photographer who returns his homeland and falls in love with his guide.
April 14. Jean-Pierre Cuomo and Somany Phetlassy are married. Cuomo helped design and build Ann Hamilton’s meditation boat, as well as the house for Marina Abramović’s 8 Lessons on Emptiness With a Happy End.
May 2. Cyclone Nargis makes landfall in Myanmar. At least 90,000 people are killed and 56,000 are missing. Initial relief efforts are delayed when the country’s ruling junta resists most foreign aid.
May 12. Over 60,000 people are killed in central China by a powerful earthquake centered near Chengdu.
Manivone Thoummabout, director of Maison du Patrimoine (Heritage House) in Luang Prabang, announces that the provincial government has decided not to permit foreign investors to convert any additional government-owned buildings in the town into hotels. She states that UNESCO officials have asked the government to implement 15 recommendations regarding management of construction and restoration of buildings in the town or risk being issued with a “red card” warning that could ultimately result in the revocation of its World Heritage Site status.
July 8. UNESCO announces that the World Heritage Committee has inscribed 27 new sites (19 cultural sites and 8 natural sites) on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. This brings to 878 the number of sites listed (679 cultural, 174 natural, and 25 mixed).
The Mekong River rises to its highest level in decades, causing severe flooding in Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.
September 2. Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej of Thailand declares a state of emergency in Bangkok.
September 6. Asif Ali Zardari is elected President of Pakistan.
September 15. Lehman Brothers files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States, accelerating the global financial crisis.
Third residency of Ann Hamilton.
Second residency of Shirin Neshat, who is accompanied by her collaborator Shoja Azari and cinematographer Benjamin Wolf. Working in collaboration with Catherine Choron-Baix, Nithakhong Somsanith, and the musicians of Puang Champa Cultural House, she films a group of elderly men and women singing traditional courting songs in a structure on the grounds of Vat Long Khoun.
November 4. Barack Hussein Obama is elected President of the United States.
November 6. King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of Bhutan is crowned.
November 25. Protestors from the People’s Alliance for Democracy seize Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok’s international airport, shutting down all flights.
November 26–28. Pakistani terrorists attack a series of 10 coordinated attacks in Mumbai. At least 173 people are killed and at least 308 are injured.
First Vipassana meditation retreat at Vat Pha O. Construction of the sala was made possible in part with a dhamma gift from Shahzia Sikander.