Thailand, Bangkok; 18 October 2018: Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 (BAB 2018), created under the theme, “Beyond Bliss”, opens for a four-month run across 20 venues. In addition to the exhibition and commissions, the programme includes a range of performances and workshops.
“Our theme draws not only from Buddhist philosophy but from the question of life. How can one find happiness and even go beyond. Art is sensitive to civil unrest and we needed this stability to make what we have now two years on from the death of our much-revered former King, Bhumibol Adulyadej. This presentation challenges both artists and viewers to achieve their own interpretations of the universal language spoken through the physical presence of art. Looking into the contemporary art world in the West, I feel it is so stagnant and jaded, this can only be a response from the plaguing presence of uncertainty, terrorism, Brexit, the economy and fear. Come to Bangkok and go beyond bliss.” said Dr. Apinan Poshyananda, Chief Executive and Artistic Director.
The first edition of BAB in Thailand combines local artistic talent with leading international practitioners and seeks to position Bangkok as a world-class contemporary art hub. It is a grand and unique collaboration by Thailand’s largest and one of Southeast Asia’s largestbeverage companies, Thai Beverage PLC, alongside the public and private sectors.
CEO and president of ThaiBev and Co-founder of Bangkok Art Biennale, Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi, added, “This is an historical time for our City. We have confidence in this festival and this will not just be a one-off. As a symbol of this, in 2017 we set up our Foundation. By actively fostering recognition and appreciation of contemporary art, our Foundation has a mission to engage, inspire and incubate diverse Thai, ASEAN and international audiences. Together, alongside our government and partners from the public and private sector, 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.”
The Biennale is further made possible by over 700 volunteers who support three positions: Artist crew, Liaison and Docent under the project name of “DEK BAB” (DEK in Thai means youth), an essential element to inform and educate our broad visitor groups. “It shows the appetite to work within the art industry. In line with the Biennale, taking place every other year, it supports the growth and sustainability of the arts through the next generation, being open to opportunities for them to experience the real art world. In the future, they might have a chance to become an artist or curator in a national art gallery.” Commented BAB curator, Luckana Kunavichayanont, Former Director of Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC).
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 will have welcomed 22.6 million foreign tourists as of the first half of 2018, bringing a 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 the tourism industry of Thailand and strengthen the unique Thai identity to attract tourists and travelers worldwide to experience the Thai culture”.
Commenting on the art market in Thailand, Rebecca Wei, President, Christie’s Asia said “The Thai art market is full of energy. In recent years many new art galleries and museums have opened and a lot of international exhibitions have been hosted which, together, are transforming the dynamics of Thailand’s art ecology. The interest of Thai art collectors is diversifying and they are getting younger too. Christie’s would like to further deepen its engagements with clients and art enthusiasts in this exciting market where we have been a player for over 20 years’.”
Kawita Vatanajyankur, participating artist, added, “Art lets us know that ‘Happiness’ is to support others and encourage society. My artwork is to bring female labors, a small group in society, into the light. It feels like I truly can communicate this problem to society and it also make me and others feel happy”. (She addresses with smile from her heart.)
“It is a pleasure to have the chance to work with old friends such as Dr Apinan and other international artists, some of whom I’ve known for 20 years since I became an artist. My artwork is named “Diluvium”, which is a Latin derivation meaning flooding or spilling over. I always question mechanisms of the human body. This work is classified as Site Specific: it works on large areas by creating completely different shapes and by playing with the gravity. Visitors have to find a balance themselves. There is no area where visitors can stand upright on this huge piece. That means your brain has to work with your body very well for a smooth viewing. See you in Bangkok. Welcome, everyone.” Said Lee Bull whose work is on view at East Asiatic Building.