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Krabi – Thailand Biennal 2018 Krabi – Edge of the Wonderland
November 2, 2018 @ 8:00 amFebruary 28, 2019 @ 5:00 pm BMT
THAILAND BIENNALE 2018 KRABI
As the foremost international exhibition of contemporary art in Thailand, the Office of Contemporary Art and Culture (OCAC), Ministry of Culture in Bangkok, is organising the First Thailand Biennale. As a national initiative of contemporary art, the organising institution of this biennial is planned to choose different cities and sites in Thailand for each edition. Unlike conventional art museum exhibitions, Thailand’s first Biennale will be staged outdoors on natural sites in Krabi. Krabi, with its majestic mountain ranges, beautiful beaches, stunning coasts, and hundreds of fertile islands, is truly the wonderland of the Andaman. However, it is not only these splendid natural resources, but also a long history, hospitality, amiability, and a simple way of life of the people of Krabi that charm and attract wanderlusters from all over the globe, making Krabi one of the most famous destinations in the world. Renowned for the richness in nature, hospitality, and history, Krabi will serve as the most exciting site for an international exhibition of contemporary art in Thailand. Thailand Biennale 2018 has been initiated to promote Krabi as a global art city which involves the following three sections;
Section 1 is an international art competition. An open call will be announced for emerging artists from worldwide. An international jury together with lead curator will select artists to exhibit in an outdoor site – specific exhibition.
Section 2 is an exhibition of artworks of Thai and international artists under the theme of “Edge of the Wonderland”. The chosen artworks will be exhibited at several sites in Krabi that have historical, natural, and cultural significance including Than Bok Khorani National Park, Hat Noppharat Thara – Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park, and other public places around Krabi town. Only one prize will be awarded to the most talented artist.
Section 3 is academic activities comprised mythoof educational and art–knowledge exchange such as curator talk panel, art workshops for Thai and international artists and art students. The four-month exhibition is set to launch on 2nd November 2018 and will take place in many splendid sites all over Krabi until 28th February 2019.
EDGE OF THE WONDERLAND A CURATORIAL THEME
Different versions of a ‘wonderland’ are derived from different cultures. In the West, we have learned the renowned English story of Alice’s adventures, written by Lewis Carroll in 1865, where a young girl called Alice falls through a rabbit hole into a world of fantasy populated by many eccentric, anthropomorphic creatures, such as the White Rabbit in a waistcoat, the Hatter, the Hookah-Smoking caterpillar, and the Cheshire Cat with its distinctive grin. This land connects to our everyday reality and yet, it is somehow hidden and can only be visited through dreams and imaginary journeys.
In the East, a compilation of geographical and cultural accounts are the origins of Chinese mythology and first appeared in the Classic of Mountains and Seas (Shanhai Jing) in the fourth century BCE. It is generally acknowledged that this Chinese book was not authored at any single time by any singular individual, but rather contributed accumulatively by different authors from the period of the Warring States to the beginning of the Han dynasty. It describes numerous regions, mountains, rivers, animals and unknown creatures. It also records many mythical stories, happenings and heroic figures, including:, Kua Fu, a giant who wished to capture the sun; Nüwa, a goddess and hybrid creature between human and boa, who created mankind and repaired the sky; and the Jingwei bird who was determined to fill up the Eastern sea with pebbles or twigs.
In South Asia, there is the legendary Himmapan Forests, which surrounds the base of Mount Meru in Hindu mythology. They are blessed under the Buddhist heavens, invisible to the human eye and inaccessible by mortals. The Himmapan Forests are also believed to be the home of many supernatural beings, such as the Naga (a serpent deity), the Kinnaree (a half-human half-swan) and the Garuda (the king of birds). These creatures have become prominent, recurring motifs in Thai’s traditional art and classical literature and are included in the Epic Tale of Ramayana and Manohara and Prince Sudhana. It is through these forms that the myth of the wonderland continues.
Third, conceptually, in the context of wonderland, edge is precisely the border line between in and out. It is a pivotal point; like the rabbit hole in Alice’s adventure, between reality and fiction, the existent and the imagined, the material and the spiritual, the experienced and the unworldly, and ultimately, the known and the unknown. It represents the origination of a wonderland, leading one’s curiosity, and indeed, inspiring one to explore, venture, and imagine. This four month outdoor exhibition in Krabi is not curated to display traditional forms of artwork, such as sculptures or paintings within the notion of ‘public art’, but rather, it encourages creative strategies and innovative practices for site-specific installations. The ‘space’ of this Biennale neither consists of white or black boxes of exhibition spaces, nor acts as a static structure. Instead, it may vary from one day to another dependent on weather and luck. The selected tourist sites being made available for creative works are already perfectly dressed by the beauty of the nature; white sand beaches, palm trees, forests and streams, that serve tens of thousands of visitors every day during the high season (November to April). What more could one possibly expect? How would any artistic response to the sites harmoniously and creatively become part of the landscape? This first Thailand Biennale is a cutting-edge exploration driven by visual practice, which takes a proactive attitude and a practical hold to approach, imitate, reinterpret and extend reality. It engenders a new way of thinking, provides opportunities for meetings between nature and art, along with the created and the man-made, and invites everyone to take a creative journey, starting from Edge of the Wonderland. Jiang Jiehong, Lead Curator, the First Thailand Biennale
“When Krabi has been chosen as the primary site for this first Thailand Biennale, there are opportunities for artists to develop site-specific work at a range of natural places, including beaches, waterfalls, caves, cliffs as well as rain forests. As the vision of Krabi to be developed as the centre of culture, agro industry and tourism of the Andaman Sea, and to provide green and exotic experiences to all visitors worldwide, this art biennial will make it even more legendary.”
Krabi is a province of Thailand located on the west coast of the southern part of the country, with some 160-kilometre long coastline, all the way from Ao Luek to Khlong Thom on Trang boarder. In Krabi, the limestone mountains broken by a few small strips of highlands and coastal plains on the mainland and peaked by Khao Phanom Bencha are where streams and rivers origin and have long nurtured lives in the region. It is covered by tens of thousands of acres of rain forests, primarily mangrove and cassia trees, and crossed by the Krabi River that flows five kilometres through the city and falls into the Andaman at Tambon Pak Nam. More than 150 big and small islands in the Andaman Sea are made up of steep stone cliffs and curved lagoons while the limestone hills contain numerous caves of stalactites and stalagmites where archaeologists trace the human history back to some 40,000 years ago. Whilst 50% of revenue comes from agriculture, specifically rubber and oil palm, the tourist industry in Krabi had only been developed in the late 1980s. It grew rapidly after its international airport had been constructed in the 1990s and became one of the most visited tourist sites globally which hosts popular destinations such as Hat Noppharat Thara – Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park, Ao Nang, Railay Beach and Mu Koh Lanta National Park, as emeralds of the Andaman Sea.
Krabi, which means sword in English, has its own folklore and story since pre-historical period. Many stone tools and ancient artifacts that were used in the past were excavated in many archaeological sites of the area currently called “Krabi”. There are several versions of folklore about the name of this province. One is the legend that passed through generations after generations as once up on a time there was villager who dug up the big antique sword like and gave it to the Lord of his land. After that they also founded many of them from excavation. And this town was known for their best in keeping many sword like artifacts and has been called Krabi since that time. Another story is about Krabi which mean Monkey, one of the animals in Chinese Zodiac, that presented on the symbol of this province. And also the elder people talked about once in Krabi, there was a ton of monkey everywhere in town. However, the very well-known history of its name was given by The King Rama V as one of the most important port and town in his majesty reign.
With the mountainous highlands, areas and enough plains on the mainland, Krabi’s topography as archipelago is also rich with sandy soil, which suitable for sowing various agricultural products such as palms, rubber trees, coconuts, cashew nuts, coffee and its natural forest, rich with mangrove and cassia trees. As a “Heaven of Seas and Beaches Lover” named by many people around the world, Krabi is praised by geologist as “the World’s Most Beautiful Marine Kart” along with Phang Nga and Phu Ket, two of the most well-known places in the south of Thailand, consisted of deep coastal continental shelf, nature created pure white sandy beaches, big corals and colored sea creatures under the heavenly crystal clear emerald seas.
The Office of Contemporary Art and Culture (OCAC), Ministry of Culture, has been responsible for developing and promoting Contemporary Thai Art and Culture domestically and abroad since 2002. With a wide range of promotional services for Thai artists as well as international artists wishing to collaborate with Thailand, the Office provides information and advisory services, art networking, data on Thai artists and promotional activities covering visual arts and applied arts. Moreover, the Office is expanding the number of art centres to serve as exhibition centres and learning spaces in several prime areas.