11 July 2024

The Bangkok Art Biennale (BAB) Foundation recently announced that 15 artworks by Southeast Asian artists were headed to Italy’s famed City of Canals.

Poster of the event

“The Spirits of Maritime Crossing” a collateral event of the 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, will showcase 15 artworks by artists from Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines and elsewhere from April 20 to November 24.

A Scene from Spirit of Maritime CrossingB

A Scene from Spirit of Maritime CrossingB

Curated by Prof. Dr Apinan Poshyananda, it features paintings, sculptures, mixed media works, and video installations.

“The Spirits of Maritime Crossing” highlights themes of displacement, diaspora, colonialism, and cultural hybrids across Southeast Asia, with a focus on water and maritime journeys.

Curator Prof. Dr Apinan Poshyananda

Participating artists include established and emerging talents including Marina Abramović (Serbia/USA), Pichet Klunchun (Thailand), Priyageetha Dia (Singapore), and others.

A new film by Abramović and dancer Pichet features her spirit traveling from Venice to Bangkok, encountering the Monkey King played by Klunchun.

The work explores the connection between these two cities, often referred to as “Venice of the West” and the “Venice of the East” respectively.

BAB Founder and Chairman Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi sees the exhibition as a platform to showcase the artistic value of the ASEAN region to a global audience.

BAB Founder and Chairman Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi

He believes it will elevate the value of the creative economy and promote creative tourism in Southeast Asia.

Italy and Thailand: an historical link

Paolo Dionisi, the Italian ambassador to Thailand, highlighted the long-standing relationship between the two countries. He mentioned the influence of Italian artist Silpa Bhirasri on the Thai art scene and King Rama V’s appreciation for Venetian aesthetics.

Paolo Dionisi, the Italian ambassador to Thailand

The artworks delve into the complexities of historical encounters. Jompet Kuswidananto’s work evokes shattered dreams, while Alwin Reamillo explores cultural currents through found objects.

Natee Utarit infuses Buddhist philosophy with Western art history, while Bounpaul Phothyzan addresses the scars of war through sculptures of discarded bombshells.

Other artists explore themes of identity, migration, and environmental concerns. Khvay Samnang’s dancers reference the Ramayana, Yee I-Lann collaborates with local communities, and Moe Satt uses his body as a canvas to explore identity.

Priyageetha Dia examines ancestral migrations, and Kawita Vatanajyankur highlights female labor in the textile industry.

“The Spirits of Maritime Crossing” promises to be a thought-provoking exhibition that fosters dialogue about cultural exchange, historical legacies, and the human experience across borders.

By Thai PBS World Feature Desk//Photo courtesy of BAB