Blog : Bangkok Art Biennale 2018

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.

/// THAILAND ///
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.

/// THAILAND ///
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.

/// THAILAND ///
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.

Go Eat, Go View! Fill up at Restaurants the Locals Love (Chao Phraya)

Go Eat, Go View! Fill up at Restaurants the Locals Love (Chao Phraya)

It’s said that waterways are the wellsprings of civilization, and that does appear to be true. Looking back many thousands of years to the earliest prototypes of human civilization it seems they all had close relationships with and originated along water sources. Civilizations in the Nile Delta, the Huang He basin, along the Indus River, the Tigris-Euphrates, and in Thailand itself, humanity’s ways of life began with connections to waterways used for consumption, travel, and agricultural use.

The international festival of contemporary art Bangkok Art Biennale (BAB) 2018 echoes this historic heritage of civilization by exhibiting the works of artists both Thai and foreign along one of Asia’s ancient and majestic waterways. Come along today as we take you to see art on the Chao Phraya riverside, and, by the way, take a few breaks to scarf down some truly delicious food.

Saphan Taksin SkyTrain Station

Our starting point today is the Saphan Taksin BTS Skytrain station, itself an important landmark. Foreigners are familiar with it for its location in the heart of Charoen Krung district and its access to the Chao Phraya Express Boat and cross-river ferries, for travel to major points such as Asiatique the Riverfront, ICONSIAM, Wat Arun, Maharaj Pier, and many others.

Sathorn Pier (Chao Phraya Express Boat, Chao Phraya Tour boats, cross-river ferries)
A songthaew minibus service running along Charoen Krung Road

For a taste treat in the Charoen Krung area, we’ll first take you to “Thip Hoi Thot Phukhao Fai,” a superb fried shellfish shop in Soi Charoen Krung 50 known for the freshness of ingredients coming direct from the sea each day. We recommend the Hoi Thap Hoi (“Shellfish on Shellfish”) for 90 baht, featuring deep fried mussels spread on top of a layer of oysters for a crispy-outside, soft-inside taste, with oysters that are delightfully fresh and juicy.

Thip Hoi Thot Phukhao Fai (Shop is in the front of the tiny 1 Khuha Building, tucked away in Soi Charoenkrung 50)

Hoi Thap Hoi (crispy-fried mussels spread over oysters)

Thip Hoi Thot Phukhao Fai Restaurant
Open Monday – Saturday 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Tel: 0-2233-1116

Full from our Thip Hoi Thot Phukhao Fai meal, leaving the shop we see Robinson’s Department Store, a Bang Rak landmark since 1992 and an early indicator of the commercial boom this area was about to undergo.

Robinson Department Store, Bang Rak Branch

Just past Robinson we glance across the street to see another of this area’s great restaurants, Prajak Roast Duck.”

In front of Robinson’s, traffic tends to get congested!

Prajak Roast Duck (directly across from Robinson’s)

Prajak Roast Duck has a long history in Bang Rak, and is famous for its roast duck, tender, skin crispy to perfection, and delicious. Today we’re ordering kiaow mee kung pet (“mee noodles with dumplings, shrimp, and duck”) and kiaow kung chin toh (“prawn dumplings”) with crispy-skin roast duck on top, for an intensely savory taste without needing to add any seasoning at all.

kiaow mee kung pet
kiaow mee kung pet

Prajak Roast Duck Shop
Open: daily, 8:00 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Tel: 0-2234-3755

. . . continuing our walk along Charoen Krung Road, at Soi 40 we reach a major Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 location, with Festival exhibits at three venues: the East Asiatic Building, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, and the OP Place Shopping Plaza.

On the way to Assumption College, Bang Rak
Bang Rak District stands out for its tremendous number of jewelry shops selling natural stones and gems.
At Soi Charoen Krung 40 a charming old fellow directs traffic in to the exhibitions.
As we enter Soi Charoen Krung 40, the East Asiatic Building is on the left.

Going up the 2nd floor of East Asiatic Building we find an exciting group of works, including Diluvium, an installation art piece which transforms the room in a uniquely disturbing way, by Korean female artist Lee Bul. Then there is Nothing Is Less Comparable 2018 by Sara Favriau, a sculptress from France skilled in creating art works from wood. Moving on, we see Pyramid Shape Sculpture, an extremely unusual and striking sculpture by Andrew Stahl, and Performing Textiles, which poses questions about various social issues, especially women’s rights, with artist Kawita Vatanajyankur using her body as a tool for “women’s work at home.”

Inside the East Asiatic Building
Diluvium, by Lee Bul
Diluvium, by Lee Bul
Nothing Is Less Comparable 2018, by Sara Favriau
Nothing Is Less Comparable 2018, by Sara Favriau
Pyramid Shape Sculpture, by Andrew Stahl
Pyramid Shape Sculpture, by Andrew Stahl
Performing Textiles, by Kawita Vatanajyankur
Performing Textiles, by Kawita Vatanajyankur
Companion Hands, by Kata Sangkhae
Companion Hands, by Kata Sangkhae

Leaving the East Asiatic Building we encounter Lost Dog, a more than 3.8-meter-tall sculpture by Aurèle Ricard, towering in front of the Mandarin Oriental.

Lost Dog, by Aurèle Ricard

Turning left into the OP Shopping Plaza right next door, there is more great art on exhibit, beginning with Jrai Dew: a radicle room, a mixed-media presentation by Art Labor, a Vietnamese group of artists. Next is Listen to the voice my Land Papua, a painting on canvas by Moelyono. And there is QUALITY: quality, by Latthapon Korkiatarkul, which urges us to think and pose questions about our lives and surroundings.

OP Place Shopping Plaza
Jrai Dew: a radicle room – Art Labor
Jrai Dew: a radicle room, by Art Labor
Listen to the voice my Land Papua, by Moelyono
QUALITY : quality, by Latthapon Korkiatarkul
Becoming White, by Eisa Jocson

OK! We’ve seen quite a bit of art! Let’s go pamper ourselves a little with a visit to the organic café “Farm to Table.” This tiny place is hidden away near the Pak Khlong flower market, with a warm and familiar atmosphere suitable for a good sit-down chill. Let’s order lod chong + ice cream (75 baht), a mix of soft, smooth organic ice cream with the signature sweetness of lod chong dessert noodles.

Farm to Table organic café
Lod Chong + Ice Cream

Shop: Farm to Table organic café
Open: every day, 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Tel: 0-2115-2625

Feeling fat and sassy after a restful stop, we exit the shop to head out again on our art odyssey. There are two more BAB 2018 exhibition locations right nearby: Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn, or Wat Pho, and Wat Arun Ratchawararam.

We can just walk across the bridge to Tha Thien Pier (Wat Pho)

In the Wat Pho grounds six important art works are on display, including Paths of Faith, by Jitsing Somboon – a collection of white robes, backs embroidered with the word “faith” in Thai, Chinese, and English – and Zuo You He Che, by Huang Yong Ping, which uses sculptures of fantastic animals to depict stories based in Chinese culture.

Paths of Faith, by Jitsing Somboon
Zuo You He Che, by Huang Yong Ping
(Photo credit: Metthi Samanthong)

If you get tired looking at the Wat Pho exhibitions, you can walk across Maharaj Road and into a tiny alley on the Chao Phraya riverside. There you’ll find another super-cool café hidden away, the Blue Whale Café.

The Blue Whale Café

The Blue Whale Café is a tiny Maharaj Road district coffeehouse set in the soi opposite Wat Pho. What makes it special is the ambiance, a sky blue décor  matching the name. We order the signature dish, “nom anchan (“butterfly-pea milk) for 120 baht, colorful, eye-catching, photogenic! Check in there and have a taste: milk, butterfly pea, mixed, for an incredible new taste.

nom anchan

Shop: Blue Whale Café
Open: every day, 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Tel: 08-1641-4514

Once you’ve filled yourself up with this treat, let’s check out one more place. Right near Phra Athit Pier is “Khun Daeng’s Kui Jap Yuan,” is one of the area’s best-known spots for Thais and foreigners alike, and should be experienced at least once. We suggest the Kui Jap Juan (45 baht), which Khun Daeng is justly known for: soft, viscous noodles in a mellow soup that needs practically no additional seasoning.

Khun Daeng’s Kui Jap Yuan

The dish Kui Jap Yuan

Shop: Khun Daeng’s Kui Jap Yuan
Open: every day, 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Tel: 0-2282-0568

. . . Full of delicious kui jap but still not sated with all this art? Then hop on a boat, cross to the other riverbank and see more at the Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan and Wat Prayoonwongsawat Worawihan BAB expositions.

Across the Universe and Beyond, by Sanitas Pradittasnee

So, have you experienced a full menu of awesome art works and fabulous eats along the Chao Phraya riverside? Well, remember: Bangkok Art Biennale 2018’s “Beyond Bliss” is held until February 3, 2019, at a full 20 venues, not just here, but all over the city of Bangkok!

Four Cafés We’ve Picked for You to Stop and Have Some Tea or Coffee After Visiting BAB 2018’s Urban Zone

Four Cafés We’ve Picked for You to Stop and Have Some Tea or Coffee After Visiting BAB 2018’s Urban Zone

We’ve told you already about “6 cafés with cool designs for us to stop in after a visit to BAB 2018,” right? Well, now we’d like to take you on a tour of BAB’s urban zone, with four more primo cafés we’ve picked out. Besides an attractive drink menu, as with ones we gave you before, each has a uniquely cool atmosphere, and they definitely aren’t far from exhibits at Bangkok Art Biennale (BAB) 2018 international festival of contemporary art . . . so come on, don’t be a stuck-in-the-mud, let’s go check ‘em out!!

/// THAILAND ///
Story: Taliw /// Photo: Sroisuwan.T, Wara Suttiwan and Taliw

Hungry Me & Thirsty You 

bangkok art biennale 2018

The Hungry Me & Thirsty You café, on the bank of Khlong Saen Saep, stands out for its yellow color tones and chic atmosphere. It’s a bit of a secret, hidden away in the Yelo House creative space. But it’s just a short 350-meter walk from there to the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC), a major BAB 2018 exhibition location.

Yelo House is a warehouse converted into a multipurpose space right on Khlong Saen Saep, with this “secret” café inside. Besides a great drink and snack menu to refresh your body with, there’s also real food to be had.

Hungry Me & Thirsty You stands out for its cool half-glass-house design looking out on Khlong Saen Saep and some colorful graffiti for scenery. At midday the sun shines in to give the yellow-toned café a warm look. As evening stretches into darkness, Hungry Me & Thirsty You morphs into a hangout where we can socialize with the gang.

bangkok art biennale 2018 bangkok art biennale 2018

Besides its unique identity, another good point is that there are art fairs and various activities here, which can be a lot of fun depending on what Yelo House has going on when you visit. In any case, enjoy snacks and food to your heart’s content, and then . . . hop over to the BACC for another hit of BAB 2018!

Our suggestion today is a sweet snack and a light drink to relax from the heat. Start with the refreshing Apple Ginger drink (120 baht), apple juice blended with ginger for a sweet mellow taste tending just a bit toward sour. For those who like milk, we recommend ELLA (120 baht), a dark tea with honey and milk served in bottle form. It’s chilled already, so no need to add ice to muck up the taste.

Now to bakery items: we recommend the Chocolate Memories Cake (200 baht), with a soft frosting on top and a rich chocolate taste along with a succulent texture. Eaten with the Apple Ginger drink it becomes perfection itself. Or you could try the Lemon Poppy Butter Cake (150 baht), a lightly moist butter cake, sweet-tasting with a hidden sour. At first blush it may look ordinary, but the taste is extraordinary, and we’re betting you won’t stop at one piece.

  • Address: Soi Kasemsan 1, Rama 1 Road (BTS National Stadium, Exit 1)
    • Business hours: 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., closed Mondays (kitchen opens 11:30)
    • FB:

Samples of art on display at the Bangkok Art Biennale International Contemporary Art Festival 2018

Basket Tower; Artist: Choi Jeong Hwa;
Name: Basket Tower; Artist: Choi Jeong Hwa; on display at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
Genetic Manipulation
Name: Genetic Manipulation; Artist: Heri Dono; on display at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
Name: Soaked Dream; Artist: Firoz Mahmud; on display at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
Name: Soaked Dream; Artist: Firoz Mahmud; on display at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre



Heekcaa is a hot spot that tea lovers absolutely should know about. It’s located on the 2nd floor of Siam Discovery, midway between two BAB 2018 locations, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre and Siam Paragon. Actually, walk just 750 meters further on and you can enjoy the BAB exhibits at Central World, too.

For this second shop, we recommend you try an original recipe from China that Siam Discovery and café Heekcaa have found hits the spot for many tea lovers, the signature drink of this café, “cheese tea.”

This drink is both a best-seller and the signature Heekcaa offering, under the name Heekcaa Cheese (90 baht).  It has the charming taste of oolong, but is topped with soft cream cheese for a rich taste with a nice salty sweetness. Green tea powder is sprinkled on top for an added subtlety. We recommend when drinking it to raise the glass at a 45-degree angle, for a blended flavor of oolong and cream cheese.

If you aren’t a cream cheese fan, Heekcaa has plenty of other dishes to choose from, for instance the fruit juice Full Cup Passion Fruit (99 baht), a jasmine tea blended with the unique sweet-sour taste of passion fruit, a refreshing drink that’s definitely not boring!

Besides blended teas of premium freshness, another Heekcaa highlight is its simple but elegant atmosphere, subtly relaxing in color tones of grey-white in a well apportioned space, perfect for sitting and chatting with friends or simply chilling.

Examples of works on exhibit at the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 international festival of contemporary art

Tape Bangkok
Name: Tape Bangkok; Artist: Numen For Use Design Collective; on display at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
Spiritual Spaceship
Name: Spiritual Spaceship; Artist: Torlarp Larpjaroensook; on display at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
Name: ALIEN CAPITAL; Artist: Sornchai Phongsa; on display at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre

House of Eden

House of Eden

At the House of Eden café you’ll have no trouble pleasing the palate. Snacks or main dishes, you’ll experience perfectly delicious flavors in newly created dishes, especially the Thai fusion food. This half-café, half-restaurant is on the 2nd floor of Siam Discovery, an easy walk to or from BAB 2018 expositions, whether at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, Siam Paragon, or Central World.

This is the second branch of the café, with the first in Groove at Central World This new outlet is remarkable for its rose-gold color, built around the unusual concept of a “Tree of God.”

What catches the eye here is the décor: the color selection gives it a cute, sweet ambience, and at same time there is the transformative Tree of God theme that gives a heavenly feeling to dining here. Furniture designed in the same color scheme and style adds to this artifice.

There is a really wide variety of food and drink choices here. You can eat light, or eat heavy, really filling up on Thai fusion, whose distinct flavors make it the favorite of many. With that in mind, here are some meal suggestions for hungry folks.

House of EdenHouse of Eden


Start with a Chicken Wings Eden Sauce (260 baht) appetizer. This is fried chicken enhanced with the café’s own special sauce for a mellow, playful taste. Moving towards the main course, we suggest Spaghetti Bacon Garlic (270 baht), with its hot, peppery Thai-style flavor with dried chilis and garlic, a perfect match for the soft noodles and crispy bacon. And don’t forget to order Grilled Kurobuta with Mala Sauce (370 baht), which really adds flavor to the meal, especially the delicacy of grilled-to-perfection  Kuroba pork with Mahala sauce, chili-hot and served with grilled vegetables to go along with the heat.

Besides main dishes, House of Eden has lots of fruit drinks, tea, and sweets to try out. There’s Passion Sunrise (220 baht), a “mocktail” with a pleasant combination of sweet and sour, for an appropriate contrast with the spicy hot of a main dish. Enjoy it with a light dessert such as Panna Cotta: softness topped with fresh fruit.

Examples of art works on display at the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 international festival of contemporary art

The Settlement
Name: The Settlement; Artist: Mark Justiniani; on display at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
The Outlaw’s Flag; Artist: Jakkai Siribut
Name: The Outlaw’s Flag; Artist: Jakkai Siributr; on display at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
Good Girls Go to Heaven, Bad Girls Go Everywhere
Name: Good Girls Go to Heaven, Bad Girls Go Everywhere; Artist: Imhathai Suwatthanasilp; on display at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre

Boyy & Son Café

Boyy & Son Café

Boyy & Son is the last café we’ll bring you to visit today. It provides a comfy atmosphere in the Chidlom-Ploenchit district, and it’s only 700-meter walk from there to yet another BAB 2018 art exhibit location, Central Embassy.

A super-cool café that grew out of a fashion brand, it connects to Flagship Store, so the décor has a “minimal luxury” style stressing simplicity and warmth, while at the same time luxury is revealed in its selection of materials.

The décor here is simple. The furniture is based around benches constructed of gorgeous terrazzo-style polished stone. There’s a feeling of openness, with on one side glass walls letting in natural light for an atmosphere of comfort and warmth, and on the other a supremely beautiful ocean aquarium, an impressive feature that is softened with green pastels.

Boyy & Son Café

Drink and dessert menus here are unique, staring with the their signature Iced Boyy & Son Caramel (120 baht), notable for its homemade caramel sauce, flavorful with special fresh ingredients such as sea salt. This drink is delightfully rich, as a thick jelly adds texture. Continuing on, for chocolate lovers there’s the Iced Dark Chocolate Mint (140 baht), a dark chocolate from Valrhona Chocolate, a French brand known for some of the most delicious chocolates in the world. This is served with a blend of mint syrup for its characteristic fragrance and flavor.

Boyy & Son Café

Finally, we recommend a new product, freshly baked, the Almond Croissant (130 baht). This is warmed before serving: crispy on the outside, soft and luscious on the inside, and chock full of almonds. This dish makes for some fun eating, and goes perfectly with either of the two drinks above.

  • Address: Floor G, Gaysorn Village (Gaysorn Tower)
  • Hours: open every day, 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Examples of art works on display at the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 international festival of contemporary art

Name: 14 Pumpkins; Artist: Yayoi Kusama; on display at Central World
Name: I Carry on Living with the Pumpkins; Artist: Yayoi Kusama; on display at Siam Paragon
Name: Pumpkin; Artist: Yayoi Kusama; on display at Siam Paragon
Name: Happy Happy Project: Fruit Tree; Artist: Choi Jeong Hwa; on display at Central Embassy
3 Well-designed Cafés Along the Phra Nakhon Riverside for Relaxation After Viewing Fine Art at BAB 2018

3 Well-designed Cafés Along the Phra Nakhon Riverside for Relaxation After Viewing Fine Art at BAB 2018

Let’s check out the coffee and tea scene along the Chao Phraya “riverside zone” for the final weekend of the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 Bangkok art festival. Come connect with us at 3 more shops in the Phra Nakhon district for some not-to-be-missed café-hopping.

/// THAILAND ///
Story: Taliw /// Photography: Sroisuwan.T and Wara Suttiwan

Ha Tien Café

Ha Tien Café

Ha Tien Café is in Soi Pratu Nokyung, just off Maharaj Road, convenient to BAB 2018 exhibits at Wat Pho and just a ferry ride from more art on display across the river at Wat Arun.

Ha Tien Café

Old-style coffee at the Tha Tien pier, surrounded by old antiques collected over 10 years in this café converted from a house that is itself an antique: what could be cooler? Customers sit and sip, enjoying the ambience with their favorite drinks and snacking on homemade sweets. There are three floors, each with a different style. Drinks are mostly coffee-based, but include added herbs and flowers that give the tastes here a unique identity. Try the Rose Latte coffee, with rose hips, or Ma-Toom Coffee, with a syrup from quince simmered to an intense rich flavor. Specially selected coffee beans give the drink an extra mellowness that brings out the flavor of the quince. The homemade cake is a perfect match for whatever choice you make.

Ha Tien CaféHa Tien Café

  • Address: Soi Pratu Nokyung
    Hours: Tuesday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. and Saturday – Sunday 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

A Pink Rabbit + Bob

A Pink Rabbit + Bob

The Tha Tien district also offers a diminutive café named A Pink Rabbit + Bob that’s well known for its vintage style. The atmosphere begins with the building, a great example of the old community architecture here, and is reinforced by the vintage furniture and brash pink neon signs in the evening that seem perfect for the context. Some great delicacies are served here, not limited to drinks and pastries, but including a great food menu. This café is under the same management as the well-known “It’s Happened to be a Closet” in another part of town, so guaranteed, this is a satisfying place to eat.

A Pink Rabbit + Bob

A dish you really ought to try is the Custard Salted Choc, or “Lon Tan Cake.” This dish is noted for its flavorful palm sugar filling, cut with caramel and chocolate, and the cake is topped with a meringue and soft chocolate. There is also the chocolate-topped Zebra Mascapone, another signature dish of the shop. You can cut those chocolate oils with a Chinese Plum Frappé or the Iced Coconut Latte Cube, espresso and milk formed into an icy shape and served with cool coconut milk, pretty incredible!

A Pink Rabbit + Bob

  • Address: Maharaj Street, across from Wat Pho
    Time: Open every day, 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Arelomdee Cafe @Khao San

Arelomdee Cafe @Khao San

This café is perfect if you’re traveling by car from Tha Tien to the Bank of Thailand Learning Center to catch the BAB 2018 exhibits there. The route takes you along Khao San Road and the Arelomdee Café, with the Learning Center just 1.3 kilometers away.

Arelomdee Cafe @Khao San

The cafe maintains a chic atmosphere, easy-going, with a rustic style that understates how chic it actually is. The ancient look of the walls fits perfectly with the neon lights. There are 2 floors, each with a different look. The first floor has the feel of a typical Khao San hangout, while the upstairs is really comfy and set up for relaxation. What to drink? you do not want to miss the Black Cocoa x Hokkaido and Melon Sprite. Hungry? Try the Yam Mu Yaw Kiao Krop, a salad with just the right chili-hot that won’t make you feel too full, great for a snack and some good chill time.

Arelomdee Cafe @Khao San

  • Address: Tanao Street, across from a famous Banglampoo Bakery Shop
  • Hours: Open every day, 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Examples of art on exhibit at the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 festival of international contemporary art, Phra Nakhon District and nearby areas

Dragon Boat by Huang Yong Ping
Venue: BOT Learning Center

Dragon Boat is an installation created by Chinese avant-garde artist Huang Yong Ping, founder of the Xiamen Dada art movement. Standing 4.2 meters tall, the sculptural work that measures 16 by 4.2 meters depicts a journey by the people who migrated from China’s Fuxian region to settle in Thailand more than a century ago. Huang is passionate about the art of storytelling. Huang is originally from Xiamen, a port city in China’s southeast. He now lives and works in France. One of his masterpieces, Dragon Boat, is currently on show at the Bank of Thailand Learning Center.

Memory House by Alex Face, Souled Out Studios (SOS)
Venue: BOT Learning Center

Thailand’s well-known graffiti artist Alex Face is a member of the street art troupe SOS, which is short for “Souled Out Studios”. The group includes, among other things, visual artists, videographers, and ceramic sculptors who explore questions about the end of life. Alex participates in the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 by presenting little Mardi, a three-eyed baby character with an aged face filled with disillusions. The sculptural installation shows the baby’s eyes opened wide in shock and rabbit ears crashing through the roof. Is he trying to call attention to a worrisome problem that’s happening to the Chao Phraya River? It’s left to your interpretation.

Paths of Faith by Jitsing Somboon
Venue: Wat Phra Chetupon or Wat Pho

Formerly chief designer at the Thai clothing brand “Playhound”, Jitsing Somboon is passionate about marrying art with fashion design. “Paths of Faith”, his entry into the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018, is a collection of white overcoats with “Faith” in Thai, English, and Chinese embroidered on their back. The items are given for people to wear over other clothing as they enter an area dedicated to a religious purpose at the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. The clothing item is part of a live installation art that’s happening with the accompaniment of sacred music and the sounds of coins hitting the inside wall of the donation bowl.

Sediments of Migration by Pannapan Yodmanee
Venue: Khao Mo at Wat Phra Chetupon or Wat Pho

“Sediment of Migration” is a transportable installation by Pannapan Yodmanee, one of the few Thai artists to ever win the 11th Benesse Prize. The sculptural composition that’s her entry into the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 consists of six miniature mountains, hermit figures in yoga poses, and ballast stones taken from ancient cargo ships. Inspired by the mural paintings found throughout the temple, the exhibition is a chronicle of historical accounts of migration, trade, and religious travels between China and the Kingdom of Siam of olden days.

From the World Inside / Across the Universe by Sanitas Pradittasnee
Venue: Khao Mo at Wat Arun or the Temple of Dawn

“From the World Inside / Across the Universe” is a site specific installation entered into the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 by Sanitas Pradittasnee. The artist got her inspiration from miniature mountain landscapes that she saw at Wat Arun or the Temple of Dawn. Her new work comes in handy as an invitation to search the mind to understand the inner self, so as to become knowledgeably aware of the goings-on in the world outside. It sends a message that's in line with "Loka-witu", one of nine rules in Buddhism. The installation consists of acrylic panels painted a bright shade of red that changes hue as time passes, a reminder that things change, people change, feelings change.

Giant Twins by Komkrit Tepthian
Venue: In Front of Khao Mo, Wat Arun or the Temple of Dawn

Bangkok Art Biennale 2018

Thai contemporary artist Komkrit Tepthian is well known for creating beautiful works using Lego blocks. His past works included the reconstruction of Buddha statutes that had been decapitated and the heads smuggled out of the country and sold as ornaments on the black market. His entry into the 2018 Bangkok Art Biennale is “Giant Twins”, an installation featuring conjoined twin brothers — a Chinese warrior stone sculpture and the likeness of the iconic Giant of Wat Arun in full regalia.

You may also like

30 Works of Art You Can’t Miss at BAB 2018
30 Works of Art You Can’t Miss at BAB 2018

3 Well-designed Cafés in the Charoen Krung/Khlong San Riverside Zone for Relaxation After Viewing Fine Art at BAB 2018

3 Well-designed Cafés in the Charoen Krung/Khlong San Riverside Zone for Relaxation After Viewing Fine Art at BAB 2018

Making plans to see some great art in the Chao Phraya riverside zone on the final weekend of Bangkok Art Biennale 2018? Today we have an added suggestion for your trip: include some “café-hopping!” Here are 3 spots in the Charoen Krung/Khlong San area where you can stop, rest, and sip some tea or grab some coffee.

/// THAILAND ///
Story: Taliw /// Photography: Sroisuwan.T and Wara Suttiwan

Heijii Bangkok

Heijii Bangkok

Our first stop is near several BAB 2018 riverside art locations: it’s only an 800-meter walk from O.P. Place, 950 meters from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, and a single kilometer from the East Asiatic Building to Heijii Bangkok, a café that has the classic flavor inside and out of an old Chinese community that keeps up with the times. The menu is to die for, with homemade drinks, pastries, and snacks freshly prepared each day. For an iced drink, we recommend Hong Kong Papaya Milk or OP Place Ice Cold Brew (Black), both with the distinctive flavor of house blend coffee beans picked seasonally. Hot coffee comes from an Aeropress coffee machine.

Heijii Bangkok Heijii Bangkok

  • Address: Charoen Krung Soi 43 (where you’ll see the Poste 43 Residence at the mouth of the alley)
    Hours: (soft opening) 09:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Closed Monday

About White Café & Bistro

About White Café & Bistro

Another café you should know about is on Charoen Krung Road near Assumption College Bang Rak. From the first moment, friendly baristas welcome you into this space dominated by white, clean tones that give a sense of openness,. About White Café & Bistro is a great neighborhood spot to sit, chill, and rest up. Board games are provided to relax with here, too.

About White Café & Bistro

Recommended treats are Iced Chocolate: rich, mellow, and iced, or the incredibly refreshing Iced Mixed Berry: drink it along with a slice or two of their great cheesecake.

About White Café & Bistro

  • Address: Charoen Krung Road (Near Assumption College Bang Rak)
    Hours: Monday – Friday 8.00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. and Saturday – Sunday 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Vacation Bangkok

Vacation Bangkok

This café in the Charoen Rak/Khlong San area lives up to its name, Vacation Bangkok, and the motto, “Make every day a vacation.” A short 800-meter walk from the Peninsula Hotel, it has a simple, comfortable interior décor: sitting here feels like relaxing at a friend’s house. It feels spacious, with a plush sofa, a corner with a long table, and an outdoor area to hang out in. For refreshment there are coffee, fruit drinks, and a “casual dining” menu you can fill up on without ever getting too full. Every dish is homemade, with select ingredients and a unique recipe. There is Berry Sister, a mellow blend of fruits and yogurt, and Banana Mango Orange, with those three fruits frozen and blended with no added ice, syrup, or plain water. If you get hungry, try the Kimchi Rice Ball and/or Caesar Salad, delicious!

Vacation BangkokVacation Bangkok

  • Address: Charoen Rak Road
    Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., closed Mondays

Examples of art on exhibit at the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 festival of international contemporary art in Charoen Krung/Khlong San and nearby areas

Lost Dog by Aurèle Richard
Venue: The Mandarin Oriental Hotel

For the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018, renowned French artist Aurèle Richard debuts “Lost Dog”, a giant sculpted bull terrier in a shiny golden coat. He uses the canine figure as a means to communicate the deterioration of human values that’s having devastating effects on the environment. The call to attention is manifested in “Lost Dog CO2”, an artwork made of plants – a key factor that’s central to reducing air pollution. The artist invites children to spray paint messages encouraging people to protect the environment. Nearby, another sculpture, “Lost Dog Ma Long”, is on hand to welcome visitors at the hotel entrance. Lost Dog Ma Long recently exhibited at the 2018 Venice Biennale.

Zero by Elmgreen and Dragset
Venue:  The East Asiatic Company Building

Working together, Micheal Elmgreen of Denmark and Ingar Dragset of Norway present an installation called “Zero” on the waterfront terrace of the old East Asiatic Company Building. Resembling an upright swimming pool circumference, the 8-meter-tall artwork is silhouetted against the panoramic view of the Chao Phraya River in the backdrop. The installation explores the relationship between different cultures, in this particular case an imagined rendezvous between the peoples of the Chao Phraya River and the Nordic Seas.

Diluvium by Lee Bul
Venue: East Asiatic Company Building

What seems like a frightening scene is, in fact, an architectural installation by South Korean artist Lee Bul. Aptly called “Diluvium”, the sculptural composition gets its inspiration from the earth surface that’s in a constant state of change. The sophisticated thought experiment consists of multiple metal frames wrapped in reflective plastic sheets. They are welded together randomly like the crushed remains of a place hit by force majeure. Resembling a chance occurrence, the exhibit is located inside the old East Asiatic Company building that’s well known for its beautiful Renaissance Revival architecture.

Nothing is Led Comparable by Sara Faviau
Venue: East Asiatic Company Building

French artist Sara Faviau is well known for working with wood, especially her unique idea of mixing old and contemporary skills. For the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018, she presents “Nothing is Led Comparable”, an installation crafted of wood native to Thailand. The timber includes teakwood, Anan or Krankrao (Fagraea frangrans), and sandalwood. The artistic composition is on view at the old East Asiatic Company Building well known for its beautiful Renaissance Revival architecture.

Becoming White by Eisa Jocson
Venue: O.P. Place

Contemporary choreographer and dancer Eisa Jocson is a visual artist with a background in ballet.

For the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018, the versatile artist debuts “Becoming White”, a live performance that she creates to call attention to the exploitation of migrant laborers from the Philippines at Hong Kong Disneyland. The performance is given in conjunction with other shows such as video, art exhibits, and installations.

You may also like

30 Works of Art You Can’t Miss at BAB 2018
30 Works of Art You Can’t Miss at BAB 2018