Out of chaos comes the calm
The weather forecasters might be predicting rain for October but the Thai capital’s art scene will bring out the sun as the Bangkok Art Biennale returns for its third edition showcasing over 200 artworks by 73 artists from 35 countries at various venues around town.
Bangkok Art Biennale 2022 is hosted by Thai conglomerate ThaiBev in association with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB).
“With a budget of Bt200 million, Bt75 million of it in cash, to stage this mega art festival, BAB 2022 aims to promote art and culture as well as boost tourism in Bangkok,” Prof Apinan Poshyananda, artistic director and chief curator of BAB told Thai PBS World.
The curatorial team includes British art consultant Nigel Hurst, Bangkok-based Italian curator Loredana Pazzini-Paracciani and two Thais, Jirat Ratthanawongjirakul of Gallery Ver and founder of Mysterious Ordinary Chomwan Weeraworawit.
“Through the third edition’s theme of Chaos : Calm, BAB reflects the challenges confronted by humankind during this precarious period, ranging from the Covid-19 pandemic to climate change and socio-political unrest. The artists reflect on turbulence, trauma, and angst experienced by many during these uncertain times. At the same time, artists offer some hope. Out of chaos, surprisingly, there are ways through art to overcome deep tensions by creating relative calm, reflection, and tranquillity,” Apinan explained at the recent press conference held on September 13 at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre.
From October 22 to February 23, 2023, festival-goers will enjoy exploring iconic artworks and performances at 12 venues ranging from art centers and shopping malls to temples.
Dozens of international artists will jet in to create site-specific works, live performance art, and give talks during the four-month festival.
The newly renovated Queen Sirikit National Convention Center will be the prime venue, displaying over 100 artworks spread over 2,000 square meters under the same roof. Among the highlights are massive sculpture installations by Japan’s Chiharu Shiota and Thailand’s Pinaree Sanpitak, and video installations by Marina Abramovic and Wantanee Siripattananuntakuland.
At this venue too, Kamin Lertchaiprasert’s life-size sculpture of Greta Thunberg, the young Swede who has tirelessly campaigned on global warming issues will greet visitors and provoke thought. Representing the Art for Air project, Kamin will also show his new video installation about this hot issue.
There are also stunning photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe and impressive works by Thai art collective Satu # Padu Collective, which works with communities in Thailand’s deep south and the Malayu-Bangkok area.
American art superstar Tom Sachs will transform a long-tail boat into his unique movable museum. In a series of live performances, Sachs’ art vehicle will sail along the Chao Phraya River for a few days before going on display in front of Museum Siam.
Young Asian-American artist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya will brighten up the youth hangout mall Samyam Midtown with her vivid graffiti.
At Wat Pho, contemporary artworks will meet traditional Thai art. Here, respected British sculptor Antony Gormley’s two sitting human sculptures will be displayed in the temple corridor surrounded by dozen of Buddha statues in sitting postures. Meanwhile the late Thai artist Montien Boonma’s spiritual installation “Melting Void” will be displayed in one chapel.
Thai artist Nawin Nuthong’s sculpture installation depicting a flock of crows will greet audiences on the lawn of Wat Arun, where the artist finds inspiration from the murals.
At Wat Prayoon, Spanish artist Alicia Framis and Thai artist Takerg Pattanopas portray life and death issues in their site-specific installations and VR application.
The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) will display Korean artist Kimsooja’s iconic installation along with new artworks by Thai artists including Arin Rungjang, Udomsak Krisanamis and Jakrawal Nilthumrong. Visitors will also be able to enjoy environment-themed works by Art For Air representatives. Veteran Thai performance artists Vasan Sitthiket, Mongkol Plienbangchang, Nopawan Sirivejkul and newcomer Pitchaya Wangprasertkul along with Collective Absentia from Myanmar will stage live performances focusing on socio-political issues.
Thai conceptual artist Chitti Kasemkitvatana will exhibit his new multi-media installation “SilentDREME” at The Prelude One Bangkok.
JWD Art Space highlights Russian Vadim Zakharov’s interactive sound installation reflecting trauma in a concentration camp, while Ukrainian Zhanna Kadyrova depicts the impact of war through her installation. Also on show at JWD is Thai artist Nutdanai Jitbunjong’s new video installation “Crying Sky”, which portrays conversations between humans and nature.
Kawita Vatanajyankur’s new video art will be highlighted at CentralWorld and there are more works at BAB Cafe at The PARQ. The Biennale has also expanded to virtual platforms to allow people from all over the world to view the exhibition online.
While BAB turns the capital into an international art hub, the BMA is also adding to the vibrant local art and culture scene with the Colourful Bangkok festival in November when over 2,000 communities will showcase their unique crafts and signature art.
Aiming to upgrade the capital to the top 50 of the World’s most liveable countries, BMA recently successfully hosted outdoor theatre and music in the parks to the delight of large crowds. Bangkok is currently ranked 98.
“We color our metropolis with art and culture by hosting various cultural events to boost the economy and take these colorful festive events into communities in order to access wider audiences and also to help reduce the inequality in our society,” Bangkok deputy governor Sanon Wangsrangboon said at the BAB 2022 press conference.
During the festivals, hundreds of art directors, curators, and collectors, both local and from abroad, will flock to the capital, helping organizers realize their dream of upscaling the art ecosystem and boosting the creative economy as well as tourism in Bangkok.
“The Biennale foundation will continue to host BAB in 2024, 2026 and 2028,” Apinan confirmed.