BANGKOK ART BIENNALE 2018
Thailand’s capital is becoming an increasingly dynamic hub, attracting artistic talents from across the globe. The first ever Bangkok Art Biennale (BAB) running from October 19, 2018 to February 3, 2019 is set to become a biannual trailblazing event, creating a high-profile platform promoting arts and culture.
One of Thailand’s largest cultural happenings in the past decade, BAB showcases a diverse range of art exhibitions, workshops, talks, performances and installations across the city. Presenting world-class works, the event is expected to draw in a local, regional and international crowd of art-appreciators as well as giving Thailand’s many visitors a new way of experiencing this renowned tourist destination.
Turning the capital into what Bloomberg News calls “a giant art gallery”, the BAB festival spotlights around 20 locations across the city, from heritage buildings to temples along the iconic Chao Phraya River, to the impressive Bangkok Art and Culture Center (BACC), glitzy shopping malls and popular public spaces.
More than 200 artistic pieces, created by 75 renowned local and international artists, have been selected for BAB by chief curator and artistic director Prof Dr Apinan Poshyananda. A global team of distinguished advisors and curators, including Japan’s Nanjo Fumio, the director of the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, also collaborated on this dynamic selection process.
The theme for the inaugural Bangkok Art Biennale is ‘Beyond Bliss’. Prof Dr Apinan explains how in modern-day society, where we are faced with anxiety, trauma and disillusion more than ever before, a simple question to ask is, “What is happiness and bliss? And how can one maintain, prolong or overcome desire beyond it?”
Participating artists were invited to interpret their idea of what happiness is, the meaning of ‘Beyond Bliss’ and the paths that guide us in our own pursuits in life.
Big BAB Moments
Of the many high-profile artists contributing to BAB is Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović who conducted a successful and thought-provoking symposium about her work in a theater space in Bangkok’s Siam Paragon luxury shopping mall. Considered one of the most influential figures in conceptual art, she is fast-gaining attention and attracted an impressive crowd to hear the “grandmother of performance art” speak.
A centerpiece of the 2018 Bangkok Art Biennale is ‘14 Pumpkins’, an art installation by legendary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Best known for her polka-dot graphics that range from paintings, sculptures, infinity installations and films, her famous ‘pumpkin’ collection is on display at CentralWorld shopping center during BAB, with a second exhibition at Siam Paragon.
Contemporary Chinese-French artist Huang Yong Ping, who ignited the avant-garde movement in China, is also featuring his work at popular tourist destination Wat Pho, Bangkok’s famed Reclining Buddha temple.
Out of the 36 Thai artists represented at BAB, names that stand out are contemporary visual artist Sakarin Krue-on, whose works are often site-specific installations with traditional cultural influences; Wisut Ponnimit, the first Thai cartoonist whose comics have been published in Japan; performance artist Chumpon Apisuk, as well as emerging artists Kawita Vatanajyankur and Latthapon Korkiatarkul.