Siwilai festival offers message of hope
Siwilai ignited a flame of hope for positive energy and creativity through the Sawang Sawai Siwilai art festival, which served as an in-person community platform for local artists and cultural enthusiasts.
Situated in Central: The Original Store, on Charoen Krung, and Central Embassy, the Siwilai Store, Siwilai Cafe, Siwilai City Club and Siwilai Sound Club were turned into living art spaces to showcase art exhibitions and entertaining activities in various fields.
The collaboration between three leading contemporary art galleries -- Gallery Ver, Artist+Run and Bangkok CityCity Gallery -- took a deep dive into the present and future of contemporary Thai art, bringing together some of the industry's most influential and up-and-coming names such as Thaiwijit Puengkasemsomboon, Mit Jai Inn, Thasnai Sethaseree, Haritorn Akarapat, Jakkai Siributr, Eiji Sumi, Som Supaparinya, Korakrit Arunanondchai and Dhanut Tungsuwan.
"We're conscious of the role we can play in promoting progress and positivity within our society and local communities. We strongly believe in the power of art and culture as vehicles of hope, of a future worth striving for, especially in the face of current circumstances. Therefore, we are honoured to be able to provide a central platform where the works and voices of Thai artists can be more widely seen and heard," said Barom Bhicharnchitr, Siwilai founder.
"One of the main objectives of Sawang Sawai Siwilai is to spark new, dynamic ways of contemplating, appreciating and engaging with art that is accessible to all. The festival also offers art collectors of all levels a unique opportunity to support homegrown talents by investing in one-off pieces that poignantly capture a defining moment in contemporary Thai art."
The festival was designed around a theme "Freedom" to draw inspiration from the graffiti artwork Untitled 2016 (Freedom Cannot Be Simulated) by Rirkrit Tiravanija. An interactive station was set up in the Siwilai Store, where visitors could silkscreen and take home DIY T-shirts boldly bearing his signature phrase "Freedom cannot be simulated".
For the artist, the text-on-T-shirt acts like a road sign, eliciting individualised responses that can be recontextualised depending on what is going on in our daily life. By wearing the T-shirts in public spaces, the text responds to the current situation where freedom has become increasingly suppressed.
Focusing on immersive and interactive experiences, the festival put forth a four-weekend series of artist talks, workshops, musical performances, art tours, art markets and food-and-art based collaborations. Highlights included a dinner dreamt up by artist Rirkrit and chef David Thompson, a night of live performances by artists Korakrit Arunanondchai and Dhanut Tungsuwan, and a pasta-making masterclass by Nam Nam Pasta and Tapas, inspired by the works of Mit Jai Inn.
Lynn Visudharomn, Sirot Seta, Pang Sirorat and Kalayada Lohacharoenvanich.
Ganda Saitum and Surasak Ittirit.