A PERFORMANCE-BASED INVESTIGATION OF SOCIAL AND CULTURAL IDEOLOGIES RELATED TO THE VALUE OF EVERYDAY LABOR
What are the body’s limitations when it comes to the monotonous and repetitive tasks of mundane labor? asks the work of Kawita Vatanajyankur, one of 25 contemporary Thai artists featured in the Thailand Eye exhibition co-curated by the Saatchi Gallery’s director Nigel Hurst and Thailand’s permanent secretary for culture Dr Apinan Poshayananda currently on view at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center. The young video and performance artist attempts to answer such by taking on the task in a truly literal manner, replacing a worker’s common tools with her own body as Vatanajyankur instills the repetitive chores they are called upon with a vigorous sense of grueling physicality.
Scale reinterprets the artist’s body as a tool of measure while countless watermelons fall from the sky above into a precarious balancing act; The Ice Shaver calls upon chin and cheek to propel a block of ice back and forth across its blade, The Dust Pan sweeps hair across floor in pendulum-esque fashion, Basket ‘catches’ the artist-turned-dirty-laundry within its grasp, Squeezers turns orange into juice in a no-hands mouth-only fashion and Carrying Pole tests the strength of not the carrier but person/pole itself, as two baskets balanced on hands and feet are slowly filled to the brim with bananas.
The videos are undoubtedly entertaining and at first glace humorous for their brightly colored settings and seemingly lighthearted nature, but as the action plays out, and the duration extends, something more begins to break through, the colors and comical nature fading away like candy coating as a visual, and physical, questioning of the social ideologies related to domestic work and repetitive everyday labor begins to emerge. Often the tasks of women, these everyday daily chores can be physically exhausting and consuming of time. Vatanajyankur brings that sense of exhaustion and acknowledgement of repetition and duration to the forefront, through replacement of tool with body and a redefining of the task at hand.