Despite its increasing importance as the capital's flagship art venue, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) has run into its fair share of criticism. Its semi-spiral design is not only quirky to the eye, but also awkward as an exhibition space. Curators need to think more than twice about how to appropriately install artworks inside rooms that have an unusual layout and obstructive poles.
The collapsible wooden structure made from pillars of an old Thai house, and some of Noon Passama’s gaudy brooches.
After he accepted the invitation to curate an exhibition there, Chitti Kasemkitvatana instantly had an idea to run his group show in the basement plaza in front of the library _ one of the least-visited corners of the building _ instead of in the spiralling upper gallery.
"This site was utilised quite ineffectively since the opening of the centre. There is an idea to run this space as a cafe since it looks out at the skyline of Pathumwan intersection, so I and my team proposed to use it for a more aesthetic [purpose]," said Chitti. "With its adjacent window panel, this site corresponds to our thematic concept of transparency."
The signature of this contemporary artist, who graduated in Australia and spent years as a monk before resuming his artistic career, is conceptualism, erudition and abstraction. His current project, "Temporary Storage #01", at BACC is a clear testament to that.
Instead of exhibiting only his own commissions, Chitti, also an art lecturer, switched to the role of curator and asked Mary Pansanga to be his assistant. The idea of running a series as a collection of contemporary items for a temporary period came to mind. The term "storage" is selected to parody that of archiving, the common task of art exhibitions today. Then they both chose the title "Temporary Storage #01" to imply that a second one will follow.
"We've already thought of the second show, and plan to hold this series at least once a year," said Chitti.
"Our team's dogma is, through a variety of artworks and activities, to create an alternative platform for more discourse around public spaces in town."
Dimanche—Le Journal D’Un Seul Jour by Yves Klein.
The current programme at BACC is a coming together of young artists with a variety of educations and working backgrounds. It comprises renditions from more than a dozen artists and curators. For instance, Pratchaya Phinthong brings his calligraphic drawings, Noon Passama shows her gaudy brooches, the upcoming curator Vipash Purichanont displays his abstract posters, while The Reading Room library _ an art-related group _ launches its own map of Bangkok book venues as part of the show.
Among these, Suwicha Dussadeewanich's semi-architectural skeleton is a highlight. The eight other projects are arranged inside Suwicha's wooden structure, which is transformed from the pillars of an old Thai house. The timber is split, deconstructed and recomposed as a giant structure. Each section can be reassembled and moved for "Temporary Storage # 02", as well as future editions.
Without any sign to inform us of its role as an art piece, the see-through structure and conceptual items seem to lack the capability to draw much attention from passers-by. But according to Chitti, several visitors stop and are captivated by the simple but peculiar edifice. Some sit on the bench provided inside the skeleton, while many get closer for inspection. There is always at least one staff member available to make this sophisticated exhibition more tangible by means of engaging in face-to-face dialogue with interested visitors _ nonetheless, this service is conducted without notice.
This discursive project also embraces three publications. The first two feature brochures of the late Thai artist Chang Sae Tang's retrospective exhibition, and the other is a renowned newspaper project titled Dimanche _ Le Journal D'Un Seul Jour (Sunday _ The Newspaper Of Only One Day) by Yves Klein. This juxtaposition of reading items about two legendary post-war avant-garde Thai and French artists is to convince the viewers that the definition of "temporary" is not bound by the condition of the present. Both publications are now rare items. Moreover, considered artworks themselves, both pieces concern personalities who are an inspiration for younger followers.
Another printed piece is Temporary Storage #01 Journal. This arty black-and-white tabloid, which is free to take away, plays the role of the exhibition's manifesto, compiling visual works and writings from the participating artists and members.
Furthermore, for a wider scale of public communication, "Temporary Storage #01" also includes 10 large posters installed at signboards at four downtown BTS stations.
"Some think that my projects are always about ambiguities, but it's my intention to explore those doubts to bring about a dialogue. I aim to find an arena of contemporary issues, and the 'Temporary Storage' series originated with this purpose _ to be the storage of discourse of people today," Chitti concludes.
About the author
- Writer: Pattara Danutra