THE RATCHAPRASONG ART MAZE, URBAN BY NATURE BRINGS WORKS OF INSTALLATION ART BY SIX THAI ARTISTS TO THE PUBLIC THROUGH THE FRAMEWORK OF AN UNCONVENTIONAL, OUTDOOR EXHIBITION FORMAT.
Utilizing the skywalk area of Bangkok’s mass transit skytrain system as gallery, works by Sakarin Krue-On, Montri Toemsombat, Haritorn Akarapat, Ruangsak Anuwatwimon, Noraset Vaisayakul and Sophie Kao Arya reach out to the society through facilitation of encounters with art in everyday life. art4d caught up with curator Myrtille Tibayrenc to learn more about the project and its goals.
Could you introduce the project and what the Art Maze hopes to bring to the city?
Myritille Tibayrenc: The Ratchaprasong Art Maze is an annual event supported by the RSTA and financed by the TAT. It is under the umbrella of a bigger project including several art and cultural events called the Thailand Art Walk.The Art Maze 2016 which I have curated gathers six contemporary Thai artists who have made site specific installations on the BTS skywalk between Chidlom and Central World on the theme of nature today.
My first intention for this project was to bring contemporary art to a wider audience, as it is unusual to see such displays in a public space in Bangkok. I also wanted to promote local creativity, as Thailand has a vibrant contemporary art scene; I thought it was unfortunate that most of these artists find greater support in other countries rather than in Thailand. So, I tried to convince the TAT that it was a good option to elevate the image of Thailand as a cultural destination by financing local artists with new initiatives like this.
And of course the artists are tackling, through their art pieces, contemporary issues such as the preservation of Thailand’s nature and soils, the lack of connection between the city and the rural areas and its people and preservation of old communities who built the soul of our city. Therefore, I think this initiative also helps to elevate the voice of the public to the attention of the authorities.
Are there any of the artist’s proposals that you found particularly successful in their ability to realize the aforementioned goal?
MT: Each artist has delivered a very insightful art piece. Of course, contemporary art asks from the viewer to take time to understand the deep meaning of it. By offering contemporary art installations on the skywalk, one of the goals was also to invite the people to slow down their daily pace, first stop to look at the artworks, and then take the time to try and understand it. I saw a lot of people taking pictures, and then wondering what all of this meant, finally going towards the info board to read about the artist and the concept of the work. Of course not all passersby take the time to do so, but all of the pieces attract a real sense of attention and question the people.
Haritorn’s art work “On Human Nature” is very powerful visually and I have received a lot of very positive feedback from this piece. Also, the fact that the concept of it is at the same time very accessible and very deep wins it a large audience.
More abstract pieces with heavier concepts like “Paradox Legendary” by Ruangsak or “Land of Heaven” by Noraset demand more time in order to be fully appreciated, these also follow the visual codes of “contemporary art” which are immediately recognizable only by a limited group of the public. These pieces are less noticed by the passersby, but play a role in opening the general public to notions of contemporary art and its reading codes.
One of my personal favorites is “The Long Way Home” by Montri Toemsombat, in which many layers of meaning can be found. It is a very subtle piece. Just to see the skill of the handicraft of this community from Chayiaphum, a very modern shape, hand weaved, transposed in the busy city center juxtaposes many paradoxes: The rural and the urban, the handmade and the manufactured, the natural elements and the artificial but also the community and the individual.
Do the six contributing artists share something in common that led to their selection? Or perhaps diversity was a more ideal characteristic?
MT: I absolutely went for diversity. I’ve been following these artists for some time and I know they all think about art in very different ways, but they alsy know each other so their is a sort of dialogue between their art pieces. I wanted to offer a variety of possible shapes, forms and concepts for the general public to get more familiar with contemporary art. At the same time, through this panel you can find real connections between the meanings of the works. I also formed this group as I knew they would be stimulated by one another, looking forward to seeing each other’s work.
Any significance to the location? Why Ratchaprasong?
MT: It was imposed on me, so I took it as a playground to develop something that could work as a contrast to the area. This is why I went for the theme of nature, to see how this notion would develop in the busiest part of the city.
The Ratchaprasong Art Maze will be on display from 13 October – 13 November, 2016.