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The Spirits of Maritime Crossing: Discover How the Past Has Shaped the Present at Venice Biennale 2024

The Spirits of Maritime Crossing: Discover How the Past Has Shaped the Present at Venice Biennale 2024

/ Venice, Italy /

/ Story: MNSD, Wuthikorn / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Sitthisak Namkham /

The mere sight of a beautiful contemporary art exhibition fills the audience with awe. Named the Spirits of Maritime Crossing, the show evokes pleasant memories of interaction between two cultures in times past. Figuratively speaking, the Spirits of Maritime Crossing is a tale of two rivers – a confluence where the beautiful Chao Phraya River in Thailand meets the iconic Grand Canal, a major water traffic corridor in Venice, Italy.

venice biennale
Making his point, artist Pichet Klunchun expresses his idea during a performance art show that’s part of the Spirits of Maritime Crossing art exhibition at the 60th Venice Biennale.

Welcome to the show featuring masterpieces by artists from Thailand as well as their counterparts from across Southeast Asia. It’s a part of the main attractions at the 60th Venice Biennale happening now, from mid-April until November 24, 2024.

Curated by the Bangkok Art Biennale Foundation, the show tells the story a relationship between the world’s two major cities in an artistic manner. It sheds light on the ties between Bangkok, once upon a time nicknamed Venice of the East, and the original Venice, a city amid a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea more than 10,000 kilometers away by sea.

The official delegation gracing the opening ceremony in Venice includes, from left, – Ms. Kundhinee Aksornwong, Minister of the Royal Thai Embassy in Rome; – H.E. Mr. Paolo Dionisi, Italian Ambassador to Thailand; – Mr. Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi, CEO of the Thai Beverage Public Company Limited (ThaiBev) as Chairman and Founder of the Bangkok Art Biennale Foundation; – Professor Dr. Apinan Poshyananda, the exhibition curator; – Ms. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Chair of the Bangkok Art and Culture Center (BACC); and – Mr. Andrea Marcon, Consul of Thailand for the Venice Triveneto.

In central respects, the Spirits of Maritime Crossing helps to explain the annals of history from a different perspective. It revisits the events and experiences in times past, ranging from European discoveries, to the diaspora of people from their homelands, to colonialism and the assimilation of people into different societies across Southeast Asia. And the story is being told through visual arts, among them drawings and sculptures, multimedia and video installation art.

venice biennale
A Symphony Dyed Blue, 2024 4K video, 6:13 min . Artist: Kawita Vatanajyankur (Thailand)
Palazzo Smith Mangilli Valmarana (second from left) is the venue for the Spirits of Maritime Crossing art exhibition at Venice Biennale 2024. The Neoclassic style palace looks out over the iconic Grand Canal, the main water traffic corridor in Venice.
Terang Boelan (Moonshine), 2022 . Artist: Jompet Kuswidananto (Indonesia)
My Mother and I II: The Composers in the Machine, 2024 . Artist: Kawita Vatanajyankur

The Spirits of Maritime Crossing contemporary art exhibition is happening at Palazzo Smith Mangilli Valmarana, a Neoclassic style palace overlooking the Grand Canal in Venice. Already there’s an atmosphere of excitement, and a wealth of interest and intrigue among international audiences.

The exhibition curator, Professor Dr. Apinan Poshyananda, was on hand to deliver the keynote address at the opening ceremony in Venice, along with a troupe of modern and contemporary artists from Thailand and across Southeast Asia. They included artists Kawita Vatanajyankur and Jakkai Siributr of Thailand, Priyageetha Dia of Singapore, and Thai dancer Pichet Klunchun who gave a special performance at the gathering.

Calling for Rain, 2021 . Artist: Khvay Samnang (Cambodia)
The Sea is a Blue Memory, 2022 . Artist: Priyageetha Dia (Singapore)

The evening ceremony was graced by the screening of a short film starring Marina Abramovic, a Serbian American conceptual artist/performer and winner of the Golden Lion Award. The event took place at Generali’s Procuratie Vecchie located at the famed Piazza San Marco in Venice.

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Aside from Marina Abramovic, the visiting troupe include 15 established artists as well as new, rising stars from Thailand and across the ASEAN Region. They include Pichet Klunchun (Thailand), Priyageetha Dia (Singapore), Jitti Kasemkitwattana (Thailand), Nakrob Moonmanas (Thailand), Jompet Kuswidanato (Indonesia), Bounpaul Phothyzan (Laos), Alwin Reamillo (the Philippines), Khvay Samnang (Cambodia), Moe Satt (Myanmar-the Netherlands), Jakkai Siributr (Thailand), Natee Utarit (Thailand), Kawita Vatanajyankur (Thailand), and Yee I-Lann (Malaysia), and Truong Cong Tung (Vietnam).

The Spirits of Maritime Crossing art exhibition at Venice Biennale 2024 is being sponsored by the Bangkok Art Biennale Foundation (BAB) in collaboration with the Thai Beverage Public Company Limited (ThaiBev) as well as public and private organizations, including:

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The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (a public organization), the One Bangkok Holdings Company Limited, the Thai Airways International Public Company Limited, the Central Group, the 100 Tonson Foundation, the Fraser and Neave Holdings Bhd (F&NHB), the Fraser and Neave, Limited (F&NL), the Saigon Beer-Alcohol-Beverage Corporation (SABECO), plus:

venice biennale 2024

venice biennale

The Chang International Company Limited, the Sangsom Company Limited, the Ch Karnchang Public Company Limited, the Bangkok Expressway and Metro Transport Public Company Limited, the Tang Contemporary Art Company Limited, the Generali Life Assurance (Thailand) Public Company Limited, Richard Koh Fine Art (Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur), Nova Contemporary, Warin Lab Contemporary, Silverlens Gallery, Flowers Gallery, and the Amarin Corporations Public Company Limited, and its business affiliations.

For the latest news on contemporary art events organized by the Bangkok Art Biennale Foundation, follow us on Facebook and Instagram at: BkkArtBiennale

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A little bit about the venue:

Having been closed for more than 12 years for renovation, Palazzo Smith Mangilli Valmarana, a palace in Venice, Italy, opened its doors to visitors for the first time in mid-April 2024, performing a role as venue for the Spirits of Maritime Crossing art exhibition at the 60th Venice Biennale.

At one time, it was the residence of Joseph Smith, a British consul, art collector and connoisseur in Venice. Also called Consul Smith, he assisted many artists during his lifetime, acts of kindness that saw his home transform into a thriving art center and meeting place popular among artists. The palace later changed hands and the new owner, Count Giuseppe Mangilli, decided to hire Giannantonio Selva to renovate the interiors in the Neoclassic style, thereby restoring the home to its former glory as we see it today.

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ISAN Cubism: A Revival of Isan Folk Art through Exquisitely Beautiful Ceramic Buddha Images

ISAN Cubism: A Revival of Isan Folk Art through Exquisitely Beautiful Ceramic Buddha Images

/ Khon Kaen, Thailand /

/ Story: Natthawat Klaysuban / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Courtesy of ISAN Cubism /

An exquisitely beautiful collection of Buddha figurines reminiscent of stone Buddha images in earlier times has restored Isan vernacular art to life. Let’s go and check out some of the extraordinary works of art that take pride of place in the hearts and minds of the people of the Northeast of Thailand, aka the Isan Region. There is a difference though, as to what kind of material they are made of. One thing is for sure, the result is the beauties of Isan folk art that inspires delight and great admiration. The tranquil figurines are skillfully handcrafted of ceramics glazed in smooth, shiny cool-toned green and blue hues. Truly in a class of itself, the stunning product line is already very well received among aficionados of fine art and sculpture countrywide.

ISAN Cubism
A collection of ceramic Buddha figurines is a work of art in several cool-toned colors by Isan Cubism. It’s being very well received in the art scene.

The project is a collaboration between Dr. Kham Chaturongakul and Dr. Nuttapong Prompongsaton, associate professor — both of whom faculty members of the Department of Industrial Design at Khon Kaen University’s Faculty of Architecture.

Together they co-founded the brandISAN Cubism by integrating the elements of vernacular art indigenous of the Isan Region in exciting new designs, plus using materials and techniques that best fit in with the present time.

Dr. Kham Chaturongakul (left) and Dr. Nuttapong Prompongsaton, associate professor. Both are faculty members at the Industrial Design Department, Khon Kaen University’s School of Architecture.

The ceramic statuettes with a polychromatic overlay are admired for their powerful storytelling about the richness of Isan culture and traditions. For this reason, the brand ISAN Cubism comes in handy as a vehicle of ideas to showcase an intriguing combination between the traditional and the modern.

Cubism, created by Pablo Picasso, is a style in art using simple geometric forms as a means of expression, as opposed to traditional modes of representation and concerns.

ISAN Cubism

Precisely, ISAN Cubism is about the relationship between religion and humanity in the contemporary world. That being the case, the omnipresence of Siddhattha Gautama the Lord Buddha is constantly felt in society today, and hence the images of him are never far from our everyday lives.

Depending on our religiosity, the statuettes of the Buddha play multiple crucial roles in the current environment. For the followers of Buddhism, they are objects worshipped and treated with deep respects. For others, they can be anything from materials used in the furnishing and decoration of homes, to symbols of pleasure and calm rather than being treated with due seriousness. The list goes on.

That being said, the traditional lines, shapes and forms characteristic of Buddha images in former times are reduced in favor of a more streamlined design plain and obvious in this collection of modern-day statuettes. It’s a rethink that enables them to perfectly merge into the circumstances that form the setting of today’s events and ideas.

ISAN Cubism
A vase for displaying cut flowers is known as “Roop Taem” or “Hoop Taem” in the vernacular of the Northeastern Region, a term for color paint art and painting executed directly on a wall.

As the two professors see it, Isan vernacular is chosen as the vehicle of artistic expression in this collection because of its richness in folk elements of design, a genre of visual art and sculpture developed at the time the region was regarded as a remote frontier ungoverned by bigger, more powerful city states.

In exact terms, it’s this quality that makes Isan folk art original and unique in its own special way. Among others, there’s a sincere direct rawness to it that differs from the more refined profile typical of those of Lanna and Ayutthaya kingdoms in former times.

In a nutshell, Isan art is the works of traditional craftsmanship, made by villagers using materials and technique available within the locality, wood and clay included.

Their version of Buddha statuettes may be a far cry from awe-inspiring masterpieces intricately carved by royal court artisans highly skilled in a trade. But, unlike the elegance in appearance that we’ve all grown accustomed to, Isan folk art remains a medium of expression that’s easy to understand, one that’s created using simple clean lines and four-sided plain figures.

The two professors see a similarity of characteristics between Isan art and cubism ideas that originated in Europe. To them, the beauty of simplicity of Isan vernacular art is key to unlocking the door to endless possibilities.

Imagine what would happen if Isan folk art could transform into lifestyle products made easily accessible to today’s generation. Keep the vibrant colors that the villagers have long cherished, plus the rawness feel unique to each and every one of them. That’s what adds charm and character to folk art products.

ISAN Cubism

The brand ISAN Cubism started out with the manufacture of vases for displaying cut flowers. Gradually Nattapong developed an interest in Buddha statuettes, having been surrounded by religious populations. He soon came up with his first collection of Buddha figurines based on wooden models that people made and then donated to temples as the expression of reverence.

ISAN Cubism

Dr. Kham and Dr. Nuttapong said that other countries have their own versions of human figurines, too. The most famous among them are Daruma Dolls of Japan, and Matryoshka, aka Nesting Dolls, of Russia.

They opined that Isan folk art had the potential to develop into something in the future, which can be anything including materials for the furnishing and decoration of a room, or any place on earth.

And you don’t have to be Buddhist to do that, either. Buddhist art is a visual art. It’s the way of seeing things around us and interpreting them through an artistic perspective. And this exquisitely beautiful collection of ceramic figurines is designed to do exactly that.

ISAN Cubism

Artist: ISAN Cubism (

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Behind the Works at Bangkok Art Biennale 2018: Historic Images of an Important Time for the Art World

Behind the Works at Bangkok Art Biennale 2018: Historic Images of an Important Time for the Art World

Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 has now finished up. Here we’ll look back at some historic images illustrating what was behind the scenes of this important page of Thailand’s contemporary art world, which brought many world-class artists – Marina Abramović,  Yayoi Kusama, Choi Jeong Hwa, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and many others – to exhibit at 20 landmark locations in Bangkok.

Bangkok Art Biennale 2018

This is Tape Bangkok 2018, or “Adhesive Tape Tunnel,” by Numen/For Use Collective Design. The artists had a foreign team work closely with the Thai team to teach installation methodology during setup on the 7 th floor of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre.

Zero, an 8.2-meter-tall installation art sculpture by Elmgreen & Dragset, required skilled Thai workmen using a crane to lift it into position in front of the East Asiatic Building.

Bangkok Art Biennale 2018
Our team found that three pieces especially grabbed the public eye at Bangkok Art Biennale 2018. The “mother goddess of polka dots,” Artist Yayoi Kusama, sent a foreign work team to closely supervise the highly complex installation of her pieces after their arrival from Japan. The FAVForward/Lifestyle website in the Amarin Group, which monitored the installation, said, “The 14 Pumpkin balloons took a lot of days to set up, with meticulous attention to every detail by the Japanese team. Setting up “Inflatable Pumpkins Balloons” wasn’t simple: it required stringing electric lines and constructing beams and internal
supports to get the pumpkins to float high above.

I Carry On Living With The Pumpkins (Silver Pumpkin and Red Pumpkin), two large and heavy works composed of inflexible pieces with lots of angles, had a hard time making it through the door. It took the staff a big chunk of time, and they told us that putting it all together was no easy thing.

Your Dog, the work of Yoshitomo Nara, another Japanese artist, at BAB Box @One Bangkok, was in a single piece and didn’t involve difficult transportation or setup. The installation team simply lifted the 4.5-meter puppy, and in the clip below you can see the setup procedure.

Bangkok Art Biennale 2018
Turkish female artist Canan’s Animal Kingdom involved installation of dozens of animals, large and small, at BAB Box @ One Bangkok. This animal kingdom took up nearly 10 square meters and was as tall as the 2-storey building itself. Installation required a work team to build scaffolding to fit.

Bangkok Art Biennale 2018The work 2562++, by Tay (Patipat Chaiwitesh), was exhibited at the East Asiatic Building. It’s full of fun, but that is blended with biting satire. The backstory here, Patipat tells us, is that the animals displayed here were all stuffed. He himself found them all in the market (not alive at that point, of course), and worked with lab experts at the Veterinary Department of Chiang Mai University to stuff them, preserving shapes and eliminating decay. After that procedure, Patipat left the lab and continued working on them in ways you can see in the video below.

Pictures that Tell Stories: Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 (Photo Essay)

Pictures that Tell Stories: Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 (Photo Essay)

On its very first day, Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 became an important part of world-class contemporary art history, with many stories of its own to tell. Today Living ASEAN will show you what this means, telling stories through pictures. Sometimes many written words can’t express the spirit of a thing as well as a single picture.

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Story : Singhanart Nakpongphun 

Bangkok Art Biennale 2018
19 September 2018 – Minister of Tourism and Sport Weerasak Kovasurat gives opening remarks for Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 at BAB Box @ One Bangkok. The glass walls in back reflects the shadow of Happy Happy Project: Please Love Me 1, a work of synthetic fabric in the shape of a flying pig, 3.5 x 5 meters, by Choi Jeong Hwa | Photo: Soopakorn Srisakul

Bangkok Art Biennale 2018
23 October 2018 – Marina Abramović, one of the most influential artists in the world of contemporary art, conducts her first full-length symposium in Thailand at Siam Pavalai Royal Grand Theater in Siam Paragon before more than 2,000 Thai and foreign audience members | Photo: Phukarin Phuangthong

Bangkok Art Biennale 2018

8 November 2018 – A tour group from Korea and their translator, visiting The State of Suffering (Mental Therapy), an installation art piece by Ajarn Sunanta Phasomwong at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, serving as a case study showing how Thailand can use a contemporary art festival in a concrete way to promote tourism. | Photo: Singhanart Nakpongphun

Bangkok Art Biennale 20188 September 2018 – Ajarn Lakhana Khunawichayanon, former director of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, speaking informally with participants in the 16th BAB Talk seminar at Warehouse 30 on the topic “Beyond Bliss: Can Art Really Build Happiness?” | Photo: Singhanart Nakpongphun

Bangkok Art Biennale 2018
13 November 2018 –   Inflatable sculpture Happy Happy Project: About being irritated, by Choi Jeong Hwa, an 8-meter-tall robot lying down between buildings in the heart of the city. Normally this can only be seen in a Japanese superhero film, but here visitors see the real thing close up, in a plaza connecting Siam Center and Siam Discovery. | Photo: Singhanart Nakpongphun

Bangkok Art Biennale 2018
17 October 2018 – Diluvium by Lee Bul, an installation art piece of silver light-reflecting tape set up in the 2nd floor of the East Asiatic Building. The picture was taken using double exposure to overlay three separate corners of this work. | Photo:  Singhanart Nakpongphun

24 November 2018 – Two Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 artists meeting without an appointment: Michael Elmgreen, creator of Zero – at the East Asiatic Building –came as a visitor only to become a special guest participant in Pichet Klunchun’s Bogus Séance Version Bangkok 4.0, which deals with a mix of cultures and communication without words, national borders, or languages, through something known as “art.” | Photo: Singhanart Nakpongphun

19 November 2018 – The venue of Geometry of Lamentation by performance artist Jihyun Youn, one of 8 artists from the Marina Abramović Institute (MAI) who did continuous live performances eight hours a day for 3 weeks running from October 19th – November 11th, 2018 on the 8th floor of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. At first the room is white, as Jihyun Youn communicates sadness and the emotional complexity of a woman unable to use the spoken word. But then red colors are splashed all over the room throughout the performance. Even after the performance is long over, the venue itself speaks to visitors. | Photo: Singhanart Nakpongphun

10 November 2018 – Phaptawan Suwannakudt and Jitsing Somboon during a special lecture (a TV program with Tiwaporn Thetsatit) outdoors in nature at the Crocodile Pond, Wat Pho, near where Phaptawan’s work is displayed. Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 has created happiness throughout Bangkok with about 200 art pieces in various locations – department stores, old buildings, or important Thai temples. | Photo: Singhanart Nakpongphun

Bangkok Art Biennale 2018
18 November 2018 – The grand old East Asiatic Building

In eventide, bathed in joy and light at the 20th BAB Talk half seminar, half very- special-pool-party with the artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset, who have a lot of world-class works behind them. | Methee Samantong, Post Process, Photo: Singhanart Nakpongphun

20 November 2018 – Taweesak Molsawat, in a live performance of Mis/placed: The Existing of Non-Existence on the architectural piece Moving System Pavilion by Vira Inpuntung and Pich Poshyananda, assembled by Bangkok Art Biennale and the Association of Siamese Architects under Royal Patronage. Here we see how beautifully architectural design and live performance can support each other. Taweesak has done other architecture-based performances as well, with installation art by Bea Vithayathawornwong of Beautbureau and Savinee Buranasilapin and Tom Dannecker of Thingsmatter. November  20-25, 2018 at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. | Photo: Singhanart Nakpongphun

26 October 2018 – BAB Workshop #2: Teaching printmaking at Baan Lae Suan Fair “Massclusive 2018,” with Ajarn Chakri Kongkaew, whose prints of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej were distributed the previous year at Baan Lae Suan Fair 2017. Here you see him sharing his knowledge at “BAB Workshop #1” in the most recent Midyear Fair. We must express our thanks for all the support for such great activities from Thai Beverage, Pcl. and companies in the Amarin network, as well as the Ardel Gallery Of Modern Art and the Bangkok Art Biennale Foundation, who have jointly organized such wonderful, creative artistic activities as we see here, without any participant fees charged! | Photo: Sitthisak Namkham

Kawita Vatanajyankur, Great Performance Brings Afternoon Tea to Life

Kawita Vatanajyankur, Great Performance Brings Afternoon Tea to Life

 A cup of tea in the afternoon is an excuse to share great thoughts with like-minded friends. Even better if the elixir of life is served fresh while live performance art is happening in real time. And right before your eyes, you fall in love with the show. It just goes to show the close-knit relationship between two artistic disciplines – visual arts and culinary talents.

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Story and video: Singhanart Nakpongphun /// Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul, Singhanart Nakpongphun and PR material 

“Knit” 2018, a performance art show visualizing hardships women face in society
“Knit” 2018, a performance art show visualizing hardships women face in society

Kawita Vatanajyankur, one of six must-see artists in the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018, is renowned for using video art to raise concerns about major issues in society and the exploitation of women, more specifically women’s rights abuse. The young homegrown artist calls attention to the problems by putting her body through various situations in the workplace that involve real pain and suffering.

Through painstaking attention to detail, Kawita sends a strong message that women deserve respect for doing backbreaking jobs in society. Her works characterized by vivid colors portray a woman as part of weaving machines, dyeing processes in the textile industry, and unending house work that includes cooking, cleaning and laundry. Over time, the power of enduring unpleasant situations crystalizes into a style that’s her signature as we know it.

Like a shuttle on the loom, the artist puts her body in an imaginary knitting machine to portray real pain and suffering that women face in society.
Like a shuttle on the loom, the artist puts her body in an imaginary knitting machine to portray real pain and suffering that women face in society.

Kawita Vatanajyankur, a rising star on Thailand’s thriving art scene, gave a live performance at an afternoon tea event hosted by the Peninsula Hotel Bangkok on January 11, 2019. Aptly named “Knit”, the show turned out to be quite a departure from her previous performances both in form and content. Only this time it focused on the power of visual storytelling as a means of highlighting hardship, solitude and experience that played a role in shaping people’s lives.

The artist likened human life experience to interlocking loops of wool or yarn knitted together to form an item of clothing. The stage on which she performed was bordered by 11 poles depicting an imaginary machine used in making knitted garments. Spun thread in bright red color twisted and wound around her evoked memories of a shuttle being thrown back and forth in the course of textile weaving. Only this time the shuttle was a human being – the artist herself.

Reports had it that the artist had gone through countless rehearsals to bring the show to perfection. The practice involved strenuous work, physical and mental fatigue, and many long hours. In the end, the audience responded with a big round of applause for the artistic talent, energy and strength that she displayed in the show that went on 60minutes.

Kawita makes art while afternoon tea is served at the Peninsula Bangkok.
Kawita makes art while afternoon tea is served at the Peninsula Bangkok.
The Knit Afternoon Tea menu is made exclusively for the show at the Peninsula Bangkok
The Knit Afternoon Tea menu is made exclusively for the show at the Peninsula Bangkok

Nothing compares to an hour reserved for afternoon tea. With a cup of tea in their hands, audience members enjoy the best of both worlds – a tea culture that looks aesthetically pleasing, and an art show that’s impressive, powerful and thought provoking.

Pastry chef Nicolas Pelloie has every reason to be very pleased. | Photo courtesy of the Peninsula Bangkok
Pastry chef Nicolas Pelloie has every reason to be very pleased. | Photo courtesy of the Peninsula Bangkok
Executive Chef Stefan Leitner, the face of leadership at the Peninsula Bangkok. | Photo: Singhanart Nakpongphun
Executive Chef Stefan Leitner, the face of leadership at the Peninsula Bangkok. | Photo: Singhanart Nakpongphun

Sharing his experience, the Peninsula’s Executive Chef Stefan Leitner said, “To get the inspiration that we needed in the course of designing the menu for the show, our team of chefs spent some of their time each day looking at rolls of yarn and stage props for weeks. It just goes to show that well thought-out themed menus can go hand in hand with visual arts shows, which include the live performance that’s happening today. The result is a perfect marriage of two artistic disciplines.”

Members of the audience are able to experience the performance up-close. The event is recorded on videotape and the guests who attend the Afternoon Tea all become actors and actresses for the day. Footage of the performance will be used in a video art production for future shows abroad. In the end, the show becomes a stage, and everyone plays a role, this writer included.

The artist said in a post-performance interview, “I want societies to appreciate the roles that women play especially in the textile industry, in which women account for between 80 and 85 percent of the sector’s workforce worldwide. When we buy an item of clothing, oftentimes we think of the brand name and machinery that goes into making it look good. We hardly ever think of the little people who work on the production line. The exploitation of women and girls must end. I want societies to turn their attention to the problem. My message is that everyone is worthy of being treated fairly, the little people included.”

The 2018 Bangkok Art Biennale’s CEO and Artistic Director Dr. Apinan Poshyananda addresses honor guests at the end of the “Knit” live performance by artist Kawita Vatanajyankur.

Speaking to honor guests at the end of the show, the Bangkok Art Biennale’s CEO and Artistic Director Dr. Apinan Poshyananda said: “I can feel for her. It’s hard work. And it just goes to prove the artist’s perseverance with, and commitment to, a purpose and everything she has stood for in a fight against gender inequality. It tires me out to watch Kawita try with everything she has, her hands, her feet, even her mouth. The artist puts her body through hardships and pain twisting and winding thread around the 11 poles that symbolize the machine used in making knitted garments. In a way, it reminds us of many challenges that we must overcome in our work life.”

“Knit” is the latest edition of Kawita’s live performance series known as “Performing Textiles”. The series also includes 4 video art productions, all of which are on show at the East Asiatic Building now until February 3, 2019. They are the following:

“Dye”, a live performance by Kawita Vatanajyankur | Photo courtesy of the artist
“Dye”, a live performance by Kawita Vatanajyankur | Photo courtesy of the artist
“The Spinning Wheel”, a live performance by Kawita Vatanajyankur | Photo courtesy of the artist
“The Spinning Wheel”, a live performance by Kawita Vatanajyankur | Photo courtesy of the artist
“Shuttle”, a live performance by Kawita Vatanajyankur | Photo courtesy of the artist
“Shuttle”, a live performance by Kawita Vatanajyankur | Photo courtesy of the artist
“Untangled”, a live performance by Kawita Vatanajyankur | Photo courtesy of the artist
“Untangled”, a live performance by Kawita Vatanajyankur | Photo courtesy of the artist

“Knit” has been dubbed one of the must-see art exhibits as part of the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018. The live performance by artist Kawita Vatanajyankur is held in the Lobby of the Peninsula Hotel Bangkok every Saturday in January from 1530 to 1630 hours. The show runs until Saturday February 2, 2019. Everyone is invited, and it’s free. But if you prefer to watch the show and enjoy the pleasure of Afternoon Tea service at the same time, the ticket is 1,400++ Baht for two persons. The Peninsula Hotel Bangkok’s Afternoon Tea service is in such high demands that reservations are required. To make a reservation, the number to call is 02 020 2888 or by email at

Apart from the Peninsula Hotel Bangkok, amazing works of art by Kavita Vatanajyankur are also on show at the Central World Shopping Center, the Emquartier Mall, the Theatre of Indulgence, and the East Asiatic Building now until February 3, 2019

Are We Living Life, or Just Playing Parts? In Conversation with Marina Abramovic

Are We Living Life, or Just Playing Parts? In Conversation with Marina Abramovic

A large crowd of art lovers queued up to get into Siam Pavalai, the Royal Grand Theater at Siam Paragon. Like everyone else, I had my ticket to the event ready for inspection. I could sense the atmosphere was filled with enthusiasm and energy. People were excited about the prospect of a vis-à-vis with Marina Abramovic, the icon of live performance art and living legend. Dubbed one of the most influential personalities to date, the 72-year-old Serbian artist and writer apparently was doing extremely well.

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Story : Singhanart Nakpongphun /// Photography: Anupong Chaisukkasem

Inside, the sound of Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy brought the Royal Grand Theater to life.  As the beautiful piano music played, a slide show evoked the images of museumgoers taking it in turns to sit across the table from Marina Abramovic and look her in the eye. The artist was still and silent for the duration of the marathon live performance. The show brought a series of flashbacks of “Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present”, her solo exhibition hosted by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York back in 2010.

Taking a quick look around, I saw people both local and foreign gradually being ushered to their seats while dimming lights signaled that something was about to happen. Clair de Lune, French for moonlight, seemed quieter now setting the scene for the show.

Lights were back on as Prof. Dr. Apinan Poshyananda, Chair and Artistic Director of the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018, appeared on stage to deliver a speech making the opening of the show. He said the event coincided with one of the most important public holidays on Thailand’s calendar.

October 23, known as King Chulalongkorn Day, is observed nationwide in loving memories of the fifth monarch of the House of Chakri, who passed in 1910. The day also remembers his first official visit to Europe that took place 121 years ago. It was with mixed emotions knowing the journey also took him to Venice, Italy back in the day. Nowadays the “City of Canals” is home to one of the most celebrated art destinations in the world. La Biennale di Venezia, or the Venice Biennale, was founded in 1895 and have since become the model for other shows worldwide.

Out in the streets, it was raining heavily, but inside the Royal Grand Theater was filled to capacity to the point extra seats had to be provided to accommodate larger-than-expected crowds of art lovers. The Kingdom’s inaugural art festival, known as the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018, began on 19 October and would run until 3 February 2019. The period saw more than 200 masterpieces by 75 renowned artists both local and international being on display at 20 landmark destinations throughout the city.

No stranger to Thailand’s artists circle, Abramovic was a visiting lecturer at Chulalongkorn University back in 2000 and since then has become fascinated with Thai culture. She was among the first world famous artists to accept the invitation to partake in the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018. Abramovic began her art career in the early 1970’s in Belgrade, in what was then Yugoslavia. Active for nearly 50 years, she won the Golden Lion Award for Best Artist at the 1997 Venice Biennale for her video installation titled “Balkan Baroque”.

The 2018 art festival in Bangkok offered the opportunity of experiencing the amazing works of Marina Abramovic, which included “Standing Structures for Human Use”, a live installation exhibit that looked into the power of silent communication and invited viewer participation. The other show, known as “Method”, was an experimental piece about the state of being present in time and space. It was presented by a team of artists from the Marina Abramovic Institute (MIA), which focused on durational works.

“Standing Structures for Human Use” is a collection of five wood poles in the upright position and adorned with crystals, each one unique in its own special way. Intended for viewers to practice meditation, the live installation is happening daily at BAB Box @ One Bangkok on Rama V Road now until February 3, 2109.

The artist said that a lot of work had gone into the making of the exhibit. There was a time she traveled as far away as Brazil to search out crystals that would be the most suitable for a show, in which she wanted viewers to participate. She could still recall many long hours sleeping on a bench inside a remote Brazilian mine. She searched among the rocks looking for clear minerals believed to have healing powers. The rest of the time was spent searching out new ideas for future art making. In retrospect, the long, arduous travel into the woods has had far-reaching effects on her art. It was a spiritual journey that went beyond traveling to work.

The fun started here. The moment Marina Abramovic entered the stage, she asked people in the audience to close their eyes and breathe in and out normally in sync with the rhythm she was giving. After 12 times, she told everyone to slowly open their eyes. Like a wow moment, it felt like the beginning of a new day, one that culminated in a rendezvous with a celebrity artist.

“Welcome to the present,” said the artist. A succinct opening remark directed the audience attention to something like we’ve got far better things to do than dwell in the past. Neither would we think about the future still to come. Marina Abramovic proceeded to outline three activities she wanted to talk about in that evening conversation. As she spoke, eight young performers who had undergone training with MAI appeared on stage. Like a scene of walking meditation, they lined up one after another behind her and began treading very slowly without making a sound. And it went on for the duration of her talk.

Abramovic speaks as young performers tread the stage slowly and quietly behind her.
Abramovic speaks as young performers tread the stage slowly and quietly behind her.

Abramovic said the eight performers had successfully completed training at an MAI workshop aimed at getting their minds ready for show. Like a long, arduous journey, they gave live performances eight hours daily and the exhibit continued for three weeks at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center (BAAC). It began on 19 October and ended on 11 November as part of the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018. From a wide field of hundreds of applicants, Abramovic handpicked only eight, among them Thai performance artist Thavisak Moolasawat.

The crux of the matter was a workshop on performance and material art, which the artist referred to as “Cleaning the House”. During training, participants went through different phases of intense activity. Some exercises involved the practice of walking very slowly that could go on for several hours. The focus was on breathing, motion, stillness and concentration of the mind, a method developed over several decades to prepare a select group of performers for long durational art exhibits.

Performance art is an exhibit presented to an audience within a fine art context. It can be performed live or shown via media. Abramovi said durational performances required a lot of physical and mental strengths and willpower to succeed. She said performance art, which could be art of any discipline, was different from acting or playing parts in stage or other productions, where actors and actresses assumed a different persona or put on a disguise. Quite the contrary, performance art was about living life and being who you were and what you stood for. A durational art performer was not performing a fictional role in any stage or screen production. The Cleaning the House workshop is about resetting the body, the fresh-and-blood living being, and preparing the mind to face the challenges in life.

Abramovic explains the idea behind the Cleaning the House Workshop.
Abramovic explains the idea behind the Cleaning the House Workshop.

The slow walking exercise soon changed to stillness where performers paired up and looked each other in the face. It was soundless, motionless and without response of any kind. They tried not to blink, because any shutting and opening of the eyes could result in losing a focus on the matter at hand. The show was modelled on a previous performance by Abramovic titled “The Artist is Present”, which was hosted by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York in 2010.

The work of a lifetime
The work of a lifetime

Then came the moment of Abramovic’s work of a lifetime. A public declaration of her life and works appeared on the screen behind her. The artist said the formal announcement and listing of works she has performed from the past to the present has meant a lot to her. The same applied to any career, whether it be singer, songwriter, or authors and whatnots. Her life manifesto just went to show who she was and what she believed in.

After asking the performers to change from looking each other in the face to standing still with their eyes closed, Abramovic began reading her life manifesto clearly and slowly one item at a time. Some items were repeated many times over, especially ones that said an artist shouldn’t behave like a star, and that depression had no benefit for anyone pursuing an art career.

There was a big round of applause when she said: “Never should an artist fall in love with another artist.” She was speaking from life experience, subtly alluding to a romantic relationship with Uwe Laysiepen, also known as Ulay, her German partner and artistic collaborator. It was one of the most meaningful aspects of life and sources of deep fulfilment and companionship that had strong influence on her art during the 1980’s.

Abramovic reading her life manifesto
Abramovic reading her life manifesto

The meeting concluded with a Q&A session, in which the artist invited people to ask about anything. Sure enough, there were a lot of questions from members of the audience, both local and international. One of them harked back to a witty remark Abramovic had made earlier in the show, which said: “Never should an artist fall in love with another artist?”

To which, she answered from experience that apparently artists tended to have a lot in common. Their spirits and natural instinctive states of mind tended to be too similar. It was especially good from the get-go. Two artists could be ideally suited to each other, but rarely did it translate into living life together happily ever after. Exceptions were few and far in between. This writer thought the same applied to relationships in other professions, too. Don’t you think? Click this link to share your thoughts with us.

Without a doubt, Abramovic has been held in high esteem the world over. The long spiritual journey to respect and admiration must have taught her something. This writer finally got around to asking her what was it that had the most influence on her art.

This writer stands up for vis-à-vis with Marina Abramovic.
This writer stands up for vis-à-vis with Marina Abramovic.

Abramovic answered: “It was Rhythm 0.” She was referring to a solo live performance she staged at age 23. She could still recall it was one of the most challenging performances in her lifetime as artist. It was a test of the limits of the relationship between performer and audience. Between the artist and members of the audience, there were 72 objects that she put on the table. People were allowed to use any one of them in any way they chose, among them a rose, a feather, honey, scissors, a knife, even a pistol loaded with one bullet. The performance last six hours, during which her body sustained several injuries that brought out the dark side of human nature. Needless to say she felt really violated. Since then, Abramovic has spent more than four decades researching and developing spiritual and material art as tools to promote the positive traits of humankind.

The inaugural art festival saw the icon of live performances work non-stop for more than three weeks in Thailand, the longest visit she has ever made to a country she has grown fondest of.

The Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 began on 19 October and runs until 3 February 2019. There are 20 locations city-wide that play host to more than 200 masterpieces from all disciplines. In all, 75 artists from 34 countries across the globe are taking part in a joint effort to turn Bangkok into one of the world’s most sought-after art destinations.

The moment this writer has been waiting for, the opportunity of meeting the artist up-close and picking up a book with her autograph on it. | Photo courtesy of the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018
This writer’s most treasured possession

This writer told Marina Abramovic that he wanted more than just an autograph. He would really appreciate an inspiration, especially to do something creative. And the artist scribbled something resembling two mathematical expressions being equal. This writer then asked her what she meant by it. With a smile, she answered in a clever and amusing way: “Infinity plus infinity, then on one knows the answer.” Aha! I’ve got it.

Experience Art Late at Night: A Charm You Never Knew Before

Experience Art Late at Night: A Charm You Never Knew Before

Sometimes changing our perspective crystallizes our vision so that what we’re looking at appears entirely new and different. This definitely applies to certain exhibits at Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 international festival of contemporary art: there are quite a few you might want to visit, experience, and drink in not just during the day, but much later, at night. Here we’ve collected some of those you might want to spend some quality evening time with, and we’d like to pass on these suggestions to the people of Living ASEAN.

Let’s start in the heart of Bangkok with the Siam District, which could be considered the trade center of the nation. There at night you can see art works from the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 international festival of contemporary art at either Central World shopping mall or the real estate development One Bangkok. These locations are neither terribly close to each other nor very far apart.

  • Name: 14 Pumpkins
  • Artist/Nationality: Yayoi Kusama (Japan)
  • On display at: Central World

In any discussion of outstanding contemporary artists it would be surprising if the name Yayoi Kusama were not mentioned. She is considered the “mother of polka dot art,” creating paintings, sculptures, installation art, and movies based on innovative arrangements of those quirky round spots.

Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 features numerous of her latest works, including 14 Pumpkins, giant polka dot pumpkin . . . sculptures, is that what they are? In any case, they are on display at Central World and have created an exciting transformation of the mall interior with a truly spectacular piece of pop art.

  • Name: Happy Happy Project: Fruit Tree
  • Artist/Nationality: Choi Jeong Hwa (South Korea)
  • On display at: Central Embassy

Happy Happy Project: Fruit Tree is a fantastic work by Choi Jeong Hwa, a leading contemporary artist from Korea. All his creations are inspired by materials encountered in daily life that are recycled and arranged to tell their stories in fascinating ways.

The Happy Happy Project is a good representation of Choi’s approach. These pieces explore the world of happiness, which is actually a very transitory and contradictory realm within each of us, and the project is made up of art works created as large inflatables, such as Fruit Tree, a giant plant that can’t help but bring a smile to anyone who so much as gives it a brief glance.

  • Name: Happy Happy Project: Breathing Flower
  • Artist/Nationality: Choi Jeong Hwa (South Korea)
  • On display at: One Bangkok

Happy Happy Project: Breathing Flower is one of this project’s most interesting works. Somehow, viewers just can’t escape feeling a rush of happiness as they pass this giant inflated flower which moves on its own.

  • Name: Happy Happy Project: Love Me Pig
  • Artist/Nationality: Choi Jeong Hwa (South Korea)
  • On display at: One Bangkok

Love Me Pig is another work from Happy Happy Project that calls forth smiles from visitors. How could it not? An inflatable pig with giant wings! And so brightly colored, dominating its space in the One Bangkok hall as it waits for viewers to come admire it.

  • Name: Animal Kingdom
  • Artist/Nationality: Canan (Turkey)
  • On display at: One Bangkok

The artist Canan calls herself an activist for women’s rights. She believes in the power of social activism and uses the female body to communicate her work in mixed media, handicrafts, painting, video, and installation art.

Her latest, Animal Kingdom, is installation art based in Arab and Persian cosmological concepts, made from a blend of materials such as sequins, fabric, fibers, and interwoven string. It suggests a scene in the land of heaven, which is full of all kinds of mythological animals such as the phoenix, dragons, snakes, and demons (djinni), and reflects the artist’s personal sense of supernatural creatures.

Charoen Krung is another area which, despite its economic growth, still retains much of its historical identity and culture. This preservation is clearly visible in houses and other buildings you’ll find here, which makes this district a favorite of artists and art lovers.

Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 exhibitions you can see at night in this district are at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and the East Asia Building.

  • Name: Lost Dog
  • Artist/Nationality: Aurèle (France)
  • On display at: Mandarin Oriental

This is a sculpture by famous French artist Aurèle Ricard, who uses art to reflect on environmental problems that humans worldwide have brought on themselves. One of his recent major pieces is Lost Dog CO2, a huge dog made of pollution-reducing plants, designed to encourage awareness of increasingly occurring negative environmental effects produced by humanity’s own skills.

His very latest is Lost Dog, a more than 5.9-meter-tall sculpture standing tall by the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, one of the treasures of Bangkok Art Biennale 2018. Here Aurèle suggests an animal seeking a path leading to happiness in the midst of a world made confused by humanity’s all-too-clever accomplishments.

Credit Pic: Singnat Nakphongphan
  • Name: Zero
  • Artist/Nationality: Elmgreen & Dragset (Germany)
  • On display at: The East Asiatic Building

Zero is a thought-provoking sculpture by Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, a pair of artists known for their installation art techniques who have exhibited at festivals all over the world, including at the Venice, Berlin, and Gwangju Biennale exhibitions.

For their latest showing, at Bangkok Art Biennale 2018, the pair have a select space on the riverfront of the East Asiatic Building where you’ll find Zero, a stainless steel “swimming pool” outline 8 meters high. Its form resembles a zero and symbolizes a connection between Bangkok’s large waterway, the Chao Phraya River, and the artists’ homeland on the Nordic Sea.

Besides the spots we’ve mentioned, there are quite a few Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 exhibitions that have been placed in temples, as, for instance . . .

  • Name: Turtle Religion
  • Artist/Nationality: Krit Ngamsom (Thailand)
  • On display at: Wat Prayunwongsawat Worawihan

Turtle Religion is a mixed media sculpture by Krit Ngamsom, which may have sprung from childhood memories brought back by the artist with new twists and interpretations to pique interest in the ordinary world.

Turtle Religion is found at Khao Mo in Wat Prayunwongsawat Worawihan where a moat home to an abundance of turtles and catfish is echoed above by these steel turtles, each of which holds something different on its back, suggesting a unity in religious faiths and cultures which are mixed and blended into a single substance here.

  • Name: What Will You Leave Behind?
  • Artist/Nationality: Nino Suwannee Sarabutra (Thailand)
  • On display at: Wat Prayunwongsawat Worawihan

“If today were your last day of life, what good would you leave in this world?” is the question posed by What Will You Leave Behind? This installation art is designed specifically for this place by Nino Suwannee. It consists of more than 100,000 tiny ceramic skull bones spread down on the walkway surrounding the temple’s main chedi. The concept is to make visitors experience it with the soles of their feet, giving them sudden insight into the fragility of life.

  • Name of work: Across the Universe and Beyond
  • Artist/Nationality: Sanitas Pradittasnee (Thailand)
  • On display at: Wat Arun Ratchawaramahawihan

Across the Universe and Beyond brings back to life a principle which has been lost and forgotten, with a design of space and light urging the viewer stepping into the space to stand in contemplation of himself, as in a moment of persistence, impermanence, and emptiness, this art piece carries a reminder for us to be aware of being mere particles in a vast universe.

There’s More to the “City of Art” Than Just Viewing:  Join in BAB 2018’s Super-Cool Activities

There’s More to the “City of Art” Than Just Viewing: Join in BAB 2018’s Super-Cool Activities

“If you just look and never touch it, the product suffers.” Most of us probably know this Thai proverb, but wouldn’t think it applied to the art we’ll see at the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 international festival of contemporary art. However, you might be surprised! You really should visit this multi-venue event. Walk around, drink in the atmosphere, and actually reach in to the core of the stories and inspiration the artists have given us with these works.

Tape Bangkok 2018
Artist: Numen For Use Design Collective
Location: 7th Floor, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre

Have you ever been afraid of things you couldn’t see? If, at the end of the tunnel, there’s nothing but emptiness and you don’t know what’s in front of you, how can you dare go in? And if the tunnel is full of breakable things and you have to walk with the greatest care?

We’re taking you to Tape Bangkok 2018, a giant tape sculpture at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. Attached from walls to floor, it is not only like a tunnel, but when you walk inside, it feels like a silk cocoon. Experiences of light, sound, touch, and smell give the visitor a sense of being on a journey of self-discovery and rebirth. The creator of this project, Numen For Use Design Collective, is a group of artists and designers made up of Sven Jonke, Christoph Katzler, and Nikola Radeljkovic, whose work often experiments with large spaces and small-scale materials such as adhesive tape, glass, or aluminum.

Artist: Nino Sarabutra
Location: Wat Prayoonwongsawat Worawihan

If today were the last day of your life, what good would you leave behind in this world? Most of us probably don’t have our lives completely planned out. If tomorrow were to be the last day of your life, what would you do? We expect that more than 90% of respondents would say they’d spend as much time as possible with loved ones. Would it occur to anyone that perhaps we should instead use every breath remaining to make a better world?

WHAT WILL YOU LEAVE BEHIND? is a scattering of more than 125,000 unglazed white ceramic skulls that pave a walkway around the temple’s main chedi. The pieces are of different sizes, transforming the space and giving it a fragility that moves people to step carefully, and with each step there are reminders of death, calling for mindfulness, as the rhythm of the walk encourages controlled breathing, and perhaps also thinking about how each of us can bring some good into the world each day .

Paths of Faith, 2018
Artist:  Jising Somboon
Location: Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn

The name Jitsing has long been well known in fashion circles for the artist’s being different and tearing up old rules: in this respect his identity is reflected here in a work that mixes art, spirituality, and fashion design. Besides his fashion design work, Jitsing also does paintings and sculptures.

For Bangkok Art Biennale (BAB) 2018 Jitsing has produced a piece entitled Paths of Faith (2018). This is a collection of white robes with the word “faith” in Thai, English, and Chinese embroidered on the back. There is a pocket sewn into the shirt to hold shoes so that removing them to enter the Reclining Buddha sanctuary they don’t have to be left haphazardly outside. The robes are set where visitors can wear them inside as they walk around the giant sleeping Buddha, feeling heavenly while hearing the sound of coins falling into a donation bowl. Paths of Faith (2018) is on exhibit for the full 4 months of the Festival, plenty of time to come take part in this expression of faith.

Standing Structures for Human Use (2017)
Artist: Marina Abramović
Location: BAB Box @ One Bangkok

If you don’t participate in this art work, you’ll never understand how wooden columns can be related to crystals. This is the latest work of Marina Abramović, an artist who at age 72 is at her highest level of influence in the world of live media and conceptual art. This piece focuses on communication through the body. This glowing sculpture here is designed to treat injuries and heal the hearts of those who interact with it. Two people stand, each on a side, and use the crystal for communication through silence. Marina believes that if our hearts are still enough, they can send power to each other. Want to know what this is all about? Come experience it at BAB Box @ One Bangkok.

What makes Marina Abramović’s work interesting is the display of intention through performance, playing with the deepest states of the human body and spirit. The works that brought her fame were many, and one of the most interesting ones is Rhythm 10 (1973).

Marina Abramović’s fascinating performance art, revealing intention through an interplay of the human body and spirit, is at the core of the works that made her famous, one of which is Rhythm 10 (1973).

Rhythm 10, her first solo performance, features knife play. Spreading her hand wide, she slams the points of the knives rapidly in each in-between space, all the time recording the sounds. Using 20 knives, changing after each round, she then plays the recording and repeats the process in synch with the recorded rhythm. Spooky, no?

Marina says she’s neither crazy nor has a death wish. Even if many of her works appear life-threatening, she is simply testing the extent of the body’s powers: it isn’t so much the body, but more the mind that enables us to go beyond our limitations. For her, performing before an audience merely means pushing her own limits to be able to do things normally impossible.

The Check Point 2018
Artist: Nge Lay
Location: 7th Floor, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre

Installation art often gives you something to stand staring at before passing by. You won’t understand it if you look only at its surface. The Check Point is an arrangement of multicolored, multipatterned fabrics into a beautiful work of art, but is much more than that. It communicates about both spiritual and physical women’s issues that reach all humanity, including saints, knights, philosophers, and sinners, as one and all, we are born through a mother’s vagina. Nge Lay poses the question of why for many reasons arising from society or belief systems there is a pervasive view of women as representing weakness and lesser ability. Yes, nowadays issues of equal rights are more at the forefront, but this piece harks back to the traditional. The artist uses numerous pieces of longyi, a fabric popular among 8 Myanmar ethnicities for skirts, to sew into a vagina-like shape. To really get inside this piece doesn’t mean simply daring to go through a cloth birth canal, but being inside and summoning a belief in the symbolism as if it were indeed true. Nge Lay says, “Creating this piece I felt both satisfied and dissatisfied, proud and sad at the same time, at being a woman. I want visitors to walk through this door and experience it as not a dirty or depressing thing, but as the value that comes with being at once mother, nature, and the land itself.

Shelter 2018
Artist: Marc Schmitz
Location: Bangkok Art and Culture Centre

Shelter in public places enables escape from the outer confusion to a place of peace: This sculpture. Shelter, is created specifically for Bangkok, in particular for artists. The empty space provides an experience normally unavailable in urban life. Shelter lets us get away from decay, confusion, and spiritual gloom to look up at the sky and stop hurting each other for a moment. This Shelter is set in the middle of Bangkok, in front of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, in a location busy with people and crowded with cars. To experience this work of art is to feel peace and solitude as you are cut off from surrounding people. Walking out, creative ideas come quickly.

Across the Universe and Beyond
Artist: Sanitas Pradittasnee
LocationWat Arun Ratchawaramahawihan

Here we take a lost and forgotten mountain path on a return to life, as the design of space and light brings visitors to look inward and contemplate their own being as they walk into the space and experience an instant of persistence, impermanence, and emptiness. This installation piece impels us to think about human identity: are we only particles in a vast universe?

Besides these art works we’ve just invited you to see at Bangkok Art Biennale 2018, you can visit many never-before-seen works at many more locations all over urban Bangkok and along the Chao Phraya riverside. The Festival runs from October 19, 2018 until February 3, 2019 at 20 landmark locations all over the City.

BAB Box, Creative Space for Art Lovers

BAB Box, Creative Space for Art Lovers

Passing by a futuristic real estate development on Wireless Road named “One Bangkok,” you’ll notice three large art works on the grass lawn, and not far away a boxlike two-storey rectangular building tagged with the name “BAB Box.” We’re seriously suggesting you check it out.

/// THAILAND ///
Story and video: Taliw /// Photography: Wara Suttiwan

A lot of folks know that BAB Box is one of the international contemporary art festival “Bangkok Art Biennale 2018” sites, and indeed it is. But you might not know that BAB Box is more than simply an exhibition space.

“…We’d like everyone to have the time, space, and interest to come experience this that we call ‘joyous, energetic art,’ or ‘beyond bliss.’ Easy enough to hear us say it, but maybe harder to actually do it.”

—Professor Dr. Apinan Poshyananda, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Bangkok Art Biennale

BAB Box is the command center for Bangkok Art Biennale 2018. It’s a creative space for art lovers to stop by and swoon. It’s a place to meet, a tourist destination, and a location for amazing world-class art. Perhaps most important, BAB Box tells us Bangkok will continue to host of international contemporary festivals in the future. This last is true for at least two more events.

We were lucky enough to speak with Prof. Dr. Apinan Poshyananda, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Bangkok Art Biennale 2018, who told us, “Bangkok Art Biennale will be here at least three times: this one (2018-19), next year (2020), and again in 2022. Since this will involve continuity and long-term planning, I thought we should have a designated Bangkok Art Biennale location, and that’s how BAB Box came to be.”

After the first Bangkok Art Biennale showing pulls up stakes in February, art activities will continue: films, performances, workshops. This is to be a creative space, providing elements of knowledge to Bangkok communities. On looking around it became apparent that this was a perfect place to hold activities for artists and art lovers.

BAB BOX at One Bangkok
Name: The Adventure of Sinxay, from the Hooptam Laos – Thai Group
BAB BOX at One Bangkok
Name: L’enfer, c’est les autres (Hell is the others), by Natee Utarit

“So . . . what were the selection criteria for the art works shown at BAB, and BAB Box in particular?” Dr. Apinan replied, “Our theme is ‘Joyous Energy, the Power of Art,’ or more simply ‘Beyond Bliss.’ Here is just one of the 20 exhibition sites, but this one is special in that we created it specifically for this showing.

“The idea was to draw out famous Thai and foreign artists to present here. We set it up to international standards of temperature and humidity control, security, and numbers of visitors. We had long discussions about the art, and were looking especially for content dealing with history and diverse cultures coming into contact and interacting with each other.”

BAB BOX at One Bangkok
Animal Kingdom; Artist CANAN
BAB BOX at One Bangkok
Standing Structures for Human Use; Artist: Marina Abramović
BAB BOX at One Bangkok
Inverso Mundus; Artist: AES+F

BAB Box is a two-storey building full of open space. The first story contains the work Animal Kingdom by the Turkish artist CANAN. Next to it is Happy Happy Project: Love Me Pig I, by Choi Jeong Hwa of Korea.

The second floor showings are from a diverse selection of artists, beginning with The Adventure of Sinxay, a painting by Hooptam Laos – Thai. Walking deeper in we find wooden columns and crystals, interactive installation art entitled Standing Structures for Human Use, by famous artist Marina Abramović, followed by a canvas oil painting from Thai artist Natee Utarit entitled Allegory of the End and Resistance, and a video piece projected on three large screens by the Russian collective AES+F called Inverso Mundus.

BAB BOX at One Bangkok
Happy Happy Project: Breathing Flower, Artist: Choi Jeong Hwa
Happy Happy Project: Fruit Tree, Artist: Choi Jeong Hwa
BAB BOX at One Bangkok
Your Dog, Artist: Yoshitomo Nara

BAB Box isn’t merely a gallery limited to showing art works, but also a creative space. We can enjoy hanging out at the BAB Café, to sit, rest, sip our favorite drinks, hand in hand with the charm of the surrounding art.

“We think of it as a space to relax and contemplate the art we’ve seen, Thai or foreign, and talk about it. It’s a coffee house! Maybe after exercising in the park you’ll stop by of an the evening and drink something. There’s even a roof deck, perfect for shooting the breeze,” said Dr. Apinan.

BAB Café is an open space design accessible from above, with tables, chairs, and sofas, set out to accommodate customers in a simple atmosphere whose charm comes from choice of materials, dark colors, and a design pleasantly compatible with the overall BAB Box ambiance. And there’s a nice, diverse food menu you’ll want to check out.

BAB Café

The food on the menu is enticing, starting with a Ham & Cheese Panini (185 baht), warm toasted bread stuffed with ham and cheese, delicious fresh vegetables on the side: simple, but pleasingly mellow. Or there’s a Smoked Salmon Croissant (215 baht): salmon is stuffed into a freshly baked croissant and served with French fries. Don’t ignore the Caesar Salad (155 baht), made up of fresh, fresh vegetables with a side of crispy fried bacon.

Drinks? BAB Café has a nice variety, starting with basic coffee, but on to innovative tastes such as Mintchee (135 baht), a blended drink mixing lychee with mint leaves for an incredibly refreshing and cooling taste. You might want to sip some Strawberry Soda (85 baht), colorful and sweet (with a hidden sour) from strawberry syrup and a splash of soda, topped with a fresh strawberry. And there’s lemon or lime tea (125 baht), known by all, favorite of many.

• Address: One Bangkok, Wireless Road (MRT Lumphini)
• Time: 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., closed Sunday
• FB:

Bangkok Art Biennale is held between October 19, 2018 and February 3, 2019 at 20 locations in Bangkok.

Marina Abramovic, the Icon of Performance Art

Marina Abramovic, the Icon of Performance Art

Marina Abramovic, a New York-based pioneer of performance art, became the hottest news early 2018 when she announced what she intended to do for her upcoming exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art in London in 2020. No, it will have nothing to do with living in an art gallery for days, or sitting in a chair for hundreds of hours, or looking strangers in the eye like in 2010.

/// THAILAND ///
Story: Singhanart Nakpongphun /// Photographs: (100 Picasa / 100 Letters: 1965-1979) Singhanart Nakpongphun /// Photo credit: Photos courtesy of the artist and the Marina Abramović Institute (MAI)


It will be entirely something new, a performance art show that will see Marina Abramovic being charged with electricity, a lot of electricity. The project is a collaboration with the Spanish art fabrication company Factum Arte to make art specifically for her exhibition in London. It will involve as much as one million volts of static. For that, Abramovic will be the first woman artist to occupy the entire main gallery of the 250-year-old Royal Academy of Arts.

People who are unfamiliar with the artworks of Abramovic may softly ask if she is crazy. Of course, not. To help you understand her innovative ideas and what she stands for, our team presents a glimpse into her life and work. Some of her groundbreaking masterpieces are exhibited along with those of 75 other artists as part of the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018. The country’s inaugural art festival is going on now and runs until February 3, 2019.

Marina Abramovic was born in 1946 in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia back in the day when it was part of a federation of republics known as Yugoslavia. After World War II ended in 1945, vast swaths of Europe were reduced to ruins and life under communist revolutionary Josip Broz, a.k.a. Marshal Tito, was tough for its citizens. But Abramovic’s family was safe and sound, albeit a far cry from being a happy one. She could still recall that her parents had a terrible marriage during a 2013 interview. Her parents became national heroes and were given positions in the post-war Yugoslav government. Her father was a high-ranking official in the security apparatus that protected the Yugoslav dictator, while her mother was director and curator of an art museum in Belgrade.

Despite her mother’s strict military style control of the household and an unhappy childhood, Abramovic developed an early interest in art and began painting as a child. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade in 1970 and went on to complete post-graduate studies in Zagreb (now capital of Croatia) in 1972. At age 27, she returned to Serbia and taught at the Academy of Fine Arts and began making art for her first solo performances.

Marina Abramovic, 100 Picasa / 100 Letters: 1965-1979, a compilation of letters she received while living in Belgrade. The book is on display at the Art Books Fair 2018 at Bangkok CityCity Gallery.

Abramovic became known for staging a work of performance art, called “Rhythm O”, at Studio Morra in Naples, western Italy in 1974. The exhibition involved Marina Abramovic standing still for six hours while the audiences were allowed to do anything they wished to her using one of 72 objects she had put on the table. They included, among other things, bread, roses, honey, nails, a scalpel, scissors, even a pistol with a single bullet in it.

Dubbed one of her most challenging events, Rhythm O was a show that tested the limits of the relationship between the performer and audience members. It began gently. But later on as the show turned ugly, one person picked up a gun and aimed at her head, and another person jumped in and took it away. At the end of the day, her body sustained a fair amount of injuries from being attacked and treated badly. No doubt it was an experience that pushed her body to the limits.

Here is a video clip in which the artist talked about Rhythm 0. (Warning: The images and content may be disturbing to individuals under age 18.) Check it out.

Unlike most communist countries in Eastern Europe, post-war Yugoslavia had a liberal travel policy permitting foreigners to travel freely through the country and its citizens to travel worldwide. On the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1990, Serbia remained in federation with Montenegro until 2006 when they split and became two separate republics. Marina Abramovic left Belgrade forever in 1979 first for Amsterdam, and then New York.

“Relation in Time” 1979 by Marina Abramovic and Ulay, a durational show in which their hair was tied together for 16 hours. Photo credit: © Marina Abramovic and Ulay, courtesy Marina

Two years after Rhythm 0, Marina Abramovic staged another performance at a show called “Relation in Time”, at Studio G7 in Bologna, Italy. A part of the live exhibition involved Abramovic and then-partner Ulay sitting together back-to-back with their ponytail hair tied together in a 16-hour marathon. They sat silhouetted against a bare wall witnessed by the audience until the final hour. Like Abramovic, Ulay also developed an interest in pushing the human body to the limits.

“Rest Energy”, a 1980 performance art exhibition by Marina Abramovic and Ulay recorded in Amsterdam. Photo courtesy of the Marina Abramović Archives

In 1980, Marina Abramovic and Ulay came up with another performance art show called “Rest Energy”. The show involved severe tests of endurance that pushed the human body to the limits, while exploring human bonds and human behavior at the same time. The 4-minute live exhibition placed Abramovic at the receiving end of an arrow while Ulay held the trigger. The crux of the matter was about the difference between life and death and mutual trust.

Albeit short-lived, collaborations between the two artist partners produced some of the most intriguing works of art that the world has ever known. But everything good finally came to an end. In 1988, “The Lovers: The Great Wall Walk” became their last joint project, in which they went on a long arduous journey from different locations and came to meet at one point on the Great Wall of China where they said goodbye.

Marina Abramovic on a long journey to the Great Wall of China, where she ended the relationship with then-partner Ulay. The work is titled, “The Lovers: the Great Wall Walk” 1988 (Photo credit: Marina Abramovic and Ulay, Courtesy Marina Abramovic and Sean Kelly Gallery New York)

Marina Abramovic became a sensation once again in 2010 with her groundbreaking durational work titled “The Artist Is Present” hosted by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. The artist gave live performances from March to May that year, during which she sat in silence at the table throughout the run of the show for a total of 736 hours. All day Abramovic would not respond to anything that the people did to distract her. Yet, museum visitors were willing to stand in line for hours awaiting their turn to sit solo across from her and look her in the eye. Once they grabbed a seat, the audience members could sit there as long as they wanted.

The Artist is Present (Photo credit: Marina Abramovic´: Photo by Marco Anelli. © 2010 Marco Anelli)

The Bangkok Art Biennale, which is happening now and runs until February 3, 2019, offers the opportunity of experiencing the amazing works of Marina Abramovic right here in Thailand. Her exhibits are on show at two separate events. First, the show titled “Standing Structures” provides a glimpse into the world of silent communication. It’s taking place at One Bangkok, a mega development project located on Rama 4 Road. “Method”, the other show that involved an experiment about being present in time and space, was held from October 8 to November 12, 2018, and presented by a team from the Marina Abramovic Institute (MAI).

Audience members participate in “Standing Structures”, an experimental exhibition at One Bangkok on Rama 4 Road. It’s part of the Bangkok Art Biennale that runs until February 3, 2019
“Method” an experimental exhibition hosted by the Marina Abramovic Institute (MAI) took place from October 8 to Novemer 12, 2018 as part of the Bangkok Art Biennale.