THAI ARTISTS

And then there were none (Tomorrow we will become Thailand.), Image courtesy of Arin Rungjang

THIS YEAR’S THAI PAVILION AT BIENNALE ARTE WELCOMED SOMBOON HOMTIENTONG AND NUMTHONG SAE-TANG AS ARTIST REPRESENTATIVES AND CURATORS WHILE THE 14TH DOCUMENTA BROUGHT THE PARTICIPATION OF ARIN RUNGJANG WITH ‘AND THEN THERE WERE NONE… TOMORROW WE WILL BECOME THAILAND’…

2017 has seen a great number of world-class art festivals from the Venice Biennale and documenta to Skulptur Projeckte. The latter is an exhibition of sculptures held every 10 years in Münster, a small town to the north of Germany while the first two have Thai artists participating, so let’s get on with the update, shall we? Starting off with the Venice Biennale that changed its name to Biennale Arte this year, we saw the Thai Pavilion that has Somboon Homtientong and Numthong Sae-tang as both the artist representatives and curators. KRUNG THEP BANGKOK is the exhibition and it features the beauty of Bangkok and the lifestyles of its ordinary inhabitants hidden within everyday life items. The exhibition is held in a space that was once operated as a restaurant business, making the entire ambience different from a normal gallery space. What Homtientong did to facilitate interactions between viewers and the materialized aesthetic was to approach the management of spatial limitations in a manner that ultimately aims to render inner peace. In addition to KRUNG THEP BANGKOK, which is officially featured as a part of the Thai Pavillion, we have Kawita Vatanajyankur and Anon Pairot’s collaboration with a Japanese artist for the exhibition ‘Islands in the Stream’ being showcased at the Alamak! Pavilion, a pavilion that is rented out to interested companies and organizations.

Thai Pavilion, Image courtesy of Somboon Hormtientong, Office of Contemporary Art and Culture

For the 14th documenta, apart from having the city of Kassel as its destination, Adam Szymczky, artistic director of the event has added Athens as the event’s host city with this year’s theme, ‘Learning from Athens.’ Arin Rungjang, the only Thai artist participating in the event brings ‘And then there were none… Tomorrow we will become Thailand’ to the crowds with his work’s subject matter that revolves around the rise of people against military governments in two different countries. The first one is the October 14th incident at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok while the second is the demonstration of Greek citizens at the National Technical University in Athens known as the Athens Polytechnic Uprising. At the time, the people of Greece were inspired by Thailand’s October 14th incident as witnessed from one of the newspaper headlines that wrote, ‘Tomorrow we will become Thailand,’ a phrase Rungjang used to name his work. The piece exhibited at Kassel goes by the name of ‘246247596248914102516 … And then there were none’ and features video, painting and sculpture with content revolving around Phra Prasat Pitthiyayuth or Wan Chutin, one of the members of the People’s Party whose movement transformed the country’s absolute monarchy into a constitutional monarchy in 1932. Wan Chutin was also the last person who signed Adolf Hitler’s personal guestbook before his death. Rungjang retells the history from both oral and archival materials, which reflects the subjectivity of history and how it relies on the way a certain story is looked at or told.

TEXT: TUNYAPORN HONGTONG
www.thaipavilion2017.com
www.documenta14.de

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