Grassroots art event takes over the downtown core (and beyond)
As a precursor to the “official” Bangkok Art Biennale, set to begin in October of this year, the Bangkok Biennal is scheduled to take place from July 1st to September 30th, 2018, and promises to be a very different art event altogether.
Conceived and put together by a conglomerate of local artists (Thai and foreign), the folk behind this “unofficial” Biennal have chosen to remain anonymous, for the most part. In fact, this Biennal has no actual curators at all, but the names of the artists, pavilions, and artistic concepts are explained in great detail on the website, which lists around 150 artists and almost 70 staging pavilions.
On display this month, and over the course of the following two months, will be many unique pavilions with some rather arresting concepts, including: the American Pavilion, the Charoen Pavilion, the Bangkok Sky Pavilion, and the Supernatural Pavilion. Overall the event will showcase artists covering many different genres, including installation, video, sound, and performance. Well-known names to look out for include Angkrit Ajchariyasophon, Mit Jai Inn, Unchalee Anantawat, as well as street artists TRK and Hideyuki Katsumata, and the Bangkok Underground Film Festival team of Sam Freeman and Dhyan Ho, as well as many others. Meanwhile, Rapat Bunduwanich and the Guerrilla Boys represent some of the fresh young talent taking part. Finally, local galleries involved include Speedy Grandma, Jam Café, WTF, the N22 galleries of Artist + Run, and Cartel Artspace.
There will also be some foreign artists making their mark, such as Shinya Akutagawa from Japan, Abhijan Gupta from India, Sarah Azpeitia from the USA, Yu Cheng Ta from Taiwan, Alfred Banze and Christine Falk from Germany, and a host of others. It was also recently confirmed that a pavilion hosted at the National Gallery, called MEX4: Preservation of the Occult, will bring to Bangkok the work of four artists from Mexico: Héctor de Anda, Maribel Portela, Sylvana Burns, and Adolfo Pérez Buitrón. It’s been organized in cooperation with the Mexican Embassy.
According to the organizers the pavilions will be seen in public spaces all around Bangkok—from sky walks and at the railway station, to parks, gardens, malls, etc. In addition, sister events will be staged in other Thai locales, such as Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Pattani, Narathiwat, and Chachoengsao, and there will even be some interesting ‘Cross Over’ projects scheduled to be staged in Germany, France, and The Netherlands.
As for budget, it’s a self-organized and self-funded enterprise, with artists and organizers working together in a collaborative environment. And while many have called it an “underground” or “guerrilla” art event, the team behind it all prefer to simply call it a “grassroots” event.
By Bruce Scott