Bangkok Art Biennale unveils details on new commissions in historic sites for 2018 inaugural edition

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Today, the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 (BAB 2018), unveiled the details of a series of new site-specific commissions that will be housed in sites City-wide. Sites include some of the City’s oldest temples, such as Wat Pho (Temple of Reclining Buddha) and Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn). Other important buildings such as the East Asiatic Building, a 19th Century Venetian-styled former Danish conglomeration building, will present the artist duo, Elmgreen & Dragset. Works will be unveiled at the opening on 19 October, where 75 artists will be situated across 20 venues in the City.

“Over the year we have welcomed some of the world’s greatest makers and creators to Bangkok, to visit sites and discuss new works for Bangkok Art Biennale. With the corporation of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Learning Center Bank of Thailand and the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, we have created something that has never been done before: new artist commissions that will be situated within ancient sites. These temples mean a lot to this country’s identity and faith and it has been an honor to celebrate and juxtapose them with these artworks. With 20 sites, we have intentionally spread the Biennale City-wide, to ensure the programme can be experienced by broad audiences and be placed in context to the diversity of Bangkok.”  said Dr. Apinan Poshyananda, Chief Executive and Artistic Director.

In addition to the ancient sites, Bangkok’s leading institutions have also came together to house the city-wide biennale. Sites sit along Chao Phraya River, the principle river of Bangkok, are ancient temples Wat Pho (Temple of Reclining Buddha), Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) and Wat Prayoon (Temple of Iron Fence).  Further down the river are Bank of Thailand Learning Center, O.P. Place, The Peninsula Bangkok Hotel and Mandarin Oriental Bangkok. Also, on the map are buildings with historic architecture: The East Asiatic building, Bangkok Art and Culture Center, Nai Lert Park Heritage Home. The heart of Bangkok has iconic landmarks: Skywalk, Siam Discovery, Siam Center, Siam Paragon, Central World, Central Embassy, Alliance Fraçaise Bangkok, One Bangkok, The EmQuartier and Theatre of Indulgence.

Under the theme ‘Beyond Bliss’, 75 artists from 33 countries participate in the inaugural edition. Some well-known names include Huang Yong Ping (France / China),Lee Bul (Korea), Yoshitomo Nara (Japan), Choi Jeong Hwa (Korea), Aurèle (France), Andrew Stahl (UK), Pichet Klunchun (Thailand), Sakarin Krue-On(Thailand), Natee Utarit (Thailand), Chumpon Apisuk (Thailand) and Marina Abramovic (Yugoslavia). Marina Abramovic Institute are to create new long-durational performances for the exhibition (19th October – 11 November), called The Method held at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC), in addition Abramovic will give a lecture on 24th October at Siam Pavalai  

“People have been expecting a biennale in Bangkok to happen for many years, and a lot of people are very excited about this, including us. We have been taking part in a lot of Biennales all over the world, and to be part of this new, innovative project, is extremely exciting for us,” said Elmgreen & Dragset.

A significant move initiated by Thai Beverage and One Bangkok, the fully-integrated district, is BAB Box, the main information center for BAB 2018. As a landmark in the center of the city, BAB Box includes information of artworks, transportation guide and map of the exhibiting venues. Additionally, there are more than 10 artworks to be exhibited as part of the 20 sites of BAB 2018.

To support the project, ThaiBev established the non-profit, Bangkok Art Biennale Foundation in 2017. By actively fostering recognition and appreciation of contemporary art, the Foundation has a mission to engage, inspire and incubate diverse Thai, ASEAN and international audiences.

CEO and president of ThaiBev and Co-founder of Bangkok Art Biennale, Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi, added, “Thailand is a special place.  Arts and culture is a part of our society. For us, ThaiBev, this is a great opportunity to be able to contribute to society and a make a long-term impactful. Our foundation is here for good; in meaning, purpose and duration. We believe that the success of BAB, Thailand can play an important role in the global development of the arts and cultural landscape. We look forward to welcoming visitors from around the world to enjoy what we have made. “

Mr. Wirasak Kowsoorad, Minister of Tourism and Sports said, “We are pleased that Bangkok will host this international contemporary art festival. We look forward to Bangkok becoming a hub that connects international arts and cultures, as well as a top tourist destination recognized by travelers around the world. People will now recognise Thailand with the Bangkok Art Biennale, on top of our natural attractions and historical places. We believe that it will not only encourage tourism and positively impact our economy but will lead to benefit the quality of life of Thai people in terms of commerce and services. Will have welcomed 22.6 million foreign tourists as of the first half of 2018, bringing 1.18 trillion-baht (36 billion USD) revenue, we expect to reach the annual target of 3.0 trillion baht with the Biennale in place. We are excited to see this inaugural edition, which surely helps support and encourage tourist industry of Thailand and strengthen the unique Thai identity to attract tourists and travelers worldwide to experience the Thai culture”.