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2018, Bangkok (Land of smiles) ENG

Language : ENGLISH : THAI

 31st Century Museum in Bangkok (Land of smiles)

at Poh-chang Academy of Art 6 October 2018 – 15 November 2018

Opening day 6 October 2018 | 5.00 pm

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The mind of love, living kindness, and fearlessness gives birth to freedom and creation.The key to a happy society is fostering relationships among its members. It starts from paying attention tothe connection between people’s minds and what constantly happens around them. We can drawinspirations from positive energy narratives I refer to them as the ‘ready-made culture and the truththat transcends the conscious mind, and turn them into direct experiences through the process of sel discovery. A deep understanding of what lies within us can be manifested in the form of physical art that facilitates collaborative learning in the society and brings back the smile on everyone’s face. Because weare society.

 

Concept

Similar to other metropolitan cities such as Tokyo, Paris, and New York, Bangkok is a metropolis withhigh economic growth and materialistic progress. The dynamic global environment affects the livelihoodsof urban communities; natural surroundings are depleting while the once nature-dependent lifestyle hasturned into one that is economic, industry-oriented. As a result, people in modern society constantly chasehappiness through materialism and the acquisition of wealth, placing more values on objects rather than mental connection. This has become a new social norm where problems and situations are evaluated and judged on the basis of materialistic benefits rather than considering sentimental, ethical, cultural, and environmental values. Humans are social animals; we need to depend on each other for survival. Nothing in this world can exist as a separate, independent, and self-contained entity. Relationship is the meaning of existence. Due to the lack of thorough understanding of oneself and others, all our conflicts arise from relationships at all levels of our existence. Therefore, gaining insight into oneself is truly imperative to the understanding of our relationships with our surroundings. We need to pay attention to each and every thought as it occurs and consider it in relation to other social affairs, whether those found in the breaking news or small unknown incidents. This is because these social occurrences directly shape our thoughts and perceptions towards our relationship with society, influencing our selection of what we believe is good and true information worthy of passing along.

This project aims to produce a compilation of ready-made culture activities around Bangkok and present it to the public eye again through systematic learning process and critical analysis. The results will be presented using different alternative methods of communication and various forms of contemporary artworks. The project’s participants will get to learn about the relationships which evolve as creative ideation is manifested into physical art, in which inspiration is turned into a direct experience in the creative process, before being presented to the public in the form of physical object. The fact that Thailand was once widely known as ‘the Land of Smiles’ has a significant implication that helps us to see and understand the fundamental values underlying the beautiful culture of Thai society in the past. It is undeniable that Thai society has changed tremendously since then, but all the crew of the project “31st Century Museum of Contemporary Spirit in Bangkok” still believe that the smiles and strong sense of kind hospitality still exist in the Thais and all humanity alike. Our objective is to create physical manifestations of these abstract attributes. However, achieving this goal will not be possible without everyone’s cooperation by sharing the personal experience of the ready-made culture which appears in the form of love and living kindness, in order to return the smiles back to everyone who see the artworks.

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Smile and inspiration.

So many good things happen around Bangkok, some make headlines while many go unrecognized or unheard except for the person who experienced the event firsthand. One example is the kind taxi driver named Narong Sai-rat who drives the car with a plate number MT 9569. He always saves up the tips from passengers to buy daily necessities, such as snacks, instant noodles, condoms, pens, and even kitchen utensils, and store these items inside his car to give away as tokens of appreciation for his customers. It is his way of paying back to his passengers for choosing his service. Another example worth mentioning is Patama Roonrakwit who founded Community Architects for Shelter and Environment (CASE) in 1997 to help slum communities and people living in poverty. The slum community in the neighborhood of Min Buri Old Market, Bangkok, is located close to her house. Seven years ago, she started some activities with the locals and children in that area, with the fundamental belief that all humans have the same value, despite our differences in profession and social status. Her initiative began with the firm belief that success lies in the community’s cooperation without setting monetary rewards as their first priority. Roonrakwit believed that success could still be attained even withzero funding. That is how she is recognized as the “slum architect”.

I was really impressed with her project in the slum community in Min Buri Old Market. Roonrakwit recalled the first time surveying the area when her team was regarded as strangers, and the community was not willing to cooperate with her. Part of the locals’ reluctance was because the area is regarded as illegal squatter settlement, thus enduring a long-term conflict with the authorities. Consequently, no governmental funds or budgets had ever been granted to the community. Roonrakwit then started out her project by working with children that tagged along her survey team. Her initial aim was to build a playground; however, after asking the children what they actually wanted, most of their responses turned out to be a swimming pool. The result both surprised and worried everyone in the team because it was almost impossible without the budget. But after a deeper inquiry, the team found the description of a swimming pool between adults (the survey team) and children to be largely different. According to children, they merely wanted a 3×5 meters pool just as big as the size of a small pond. After that, a swimming pool was built through collaborative efforts of the children, parents, as well as a group of volunteers comprising of both Thai and foreign architect students. Roonrakwit remarked that it was very fortunate for the community to be accessible only through a small footbridge crossing a canal, thus no cars could be used. This means people must carry everything across the bridge by themselves. Most people, including me, will probably perceive this issue of inaccessibility as a problem or an obstacle. For Roonrakwit, however, it benefits this initiative as it encourages unity, participation, and strong sense of community.

From a playground to a swimming pool, later on the boys requested a football field which was strongly opposed by the girls, who preferred a library where they can read and do their homework in the evening. A community library was then built to accommodate their needs, followed by a community tool shed and other places for community purposes. During the 3-month school holiday each year, Roonrakwit and her students, as well as children and the community members will gather up and fix, build, or develop something that the community needs. From this point, people in the community started to come together and take the initiative to contribute to public goods by themselves, like building a new bridge or raising the road level with concrete to prevent floods, without having to wait for the school holiday. Another impressive story was told by Atcharaporn Ganghae. She recalled her encounter with a homeless man without a shirt on who looked emaciated as if he had been starving for days. Walking past him, awave of sympathy surged through her, so she offered him a bag with two pieces of bread inside. He took one and handed another back to her, saying, “Thank you, but one is enough for me.” This might not seem to be anything extraordinary, but instead she was deeply affected by it as the incident caused her to realize the value and significance of self-sufficiency and self-moderation. Another shareworthy story was from Jakkrit Sue-ob who expressed his impression on an elderly couple who continues to sell their food at the price as cheap as 15 baht per dish when it normally costs 30-40 baht to eat the same type of food elsewhere. They also offer generous portions for the customers who are mostly low income and blue collar workers in the neighborhood. Not aiming to accumulate wealth, the couple are dedicated to helping others by adhering religiously to the principles of meritism instead of capitalism (focusing solely on profit maximization for oneself).

The four examples above should provide us some guidelines of how to practice mindfulness in our relationships. A closer look at our everyday life situations might reveal some positive stories, which, unfortunately, are often perceived as irrelevant, and thus overlooked. But the truth of nature always radiates pure energy of love and living kindness that leads to a positive attitude and a higher self-concept.

It is impossible to determine whose stories are more significant or better, as they all have meanings and unique values relative to temporal and spatial relationships that vary with each individual. This means that when we smile, the society will also smile with us. Because, ultimately, we are society.

Note: Some concepts have been derived from The Mirror of Relationship by J. Krishnamurti.

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Angkrit Ajchariyasophon Volunteers and participants

10At that time, Kamin Lertchaiprasert was the name that pop up in my mind. Because the solo exhibition was going to take place at an educational institution, especially the institution like Poh-Chang Academy of Arts, It would be useful for students there to learn how to think and work with famous artist as Kamin.

But after discussed this with Kamin. He said “I do not want to do the solo show. I would prefer to arrange series of workshop through the year. The whole year of workshops were for the students to prepare and create understanding of the concept of the 31st Century Museum of Contemporary Spirit in Bangkok. The project that he continuously developed during these years.

‘The 31st Century Museum..’ is consist of lectures, workshops and a field trip to Chiang Mai. The Poh-Chang Academy of Arts provides a venue as a host. While I and Kamin are project consultants. The project is designed to be a system that any participant can voluntarily be an artist. They would work as an artist, curator, organiser and install their works by themselves. They could present their stories, own the stories and their arts. All ideas were presenting at the seminar. We discussed, exchanged and gave some feedback. Not a single idea was eliminated because we believe that every story is worthy.

During the Chiang Mai trip, We exchanged lots of things. I’ve also learned so much, mostly from the volunteer’s experiences along the project. My thoughts have changed a lot. After everything has sinked in, I found that even the stories related to me or not, they were beautiful. The stories were full of personal thoughts and feelings. They touched us and made us feel something like when we appreciated spirits of humanity, love and kindness. They created an empathy for each other which hardly grown in a big city like Bangkok. The arts they made only reflect the stories they have told. All experiences help us realise our internal values.

Art Gallery of the Poh-Chang Academy of Arts may be filled with objects that communicate things. But the real show room, happened in the 31st Century Museum that does not have physical presence. But it’s all our minds.

 

Thanatip Thipwaree Project Manager

In July 2017, I had the opportunity to consult with Mr. Angkrit Ajchariyasophon, who is a talented artist, curator, and gallerist. My purpose of this discussion was to show my intention concerning with the exhibition of artworks of the successful Thai artist who has a world-renowned reputation in order to integrate contemporary arts education in the 21st century to all art students of Pohchang Academy of Arts, Rajamangala University of Technology Rattanakosin, and people who are interested in this. It was an honor to receive the positive feedback from the artist Mr. Kamin Lertchaiprasert, who has proposed a learning approach towards creative arts that can promote and develop positive relationship construction in social science. He had developed his notion through a project he primarily initiated in Kanazawa, Japan, in 2008. Later, he launched this project in Chiang Mai in 2009, and then he was invited from overseas agencies to do this project at The Art Institute of Chicago USA in 2011 and at Niigita Japan in 2012. The project was called the “31st Century Museum of Contemporary Spirit.” This is an inspirational model project and the way to drive the process of “31st Century Museum of Contemporary Spirit in Bangkok” (at Poh Chang Academy of Arts). At first, the lectures were given to people who participated in this project in order to provide the insightfulness of the concept of 31st modern arts, along with the discussion forum for them to exchange their ideas and opinions. Also, there were presentations of a personal attitude towards the narratives which were the valuable experiences with a good spirit that truly exist in the society, and then those ideas were communicated through the creations of contemporary arts from all artists who participated in the project from the beginning. They have been working together on the project throughout the past one year to bring this exhibition to life. All of this is a phenomenon of “The Creative Workshop of 31st Century Museum in Bangkok for the Development of Community and Society of Arts and Cultural Learning in 21st Century to the Future.” In December 2017, a field trip to Chiang Mai was arranged for participants to learn more about the 31st Century Museum of Contemporary Spirit. By gaining insight and deep understanding, the concept is focused on viewing and gathering a pure spiritual energy as the power source for others to explore themselves through events and stories and find their self-motive power that drives them to focus on something that is more precious than the price. Everyone can discover the extraordinariness of the good spirits and express it through the art forms,

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contributing the artistic creativity to the society. The participants could learn that from various places which Mr. Kamin brought them to visit, for example, the vegetarian club that trades favorably to human beings by selling them food for 0 baht per serving, No-one-own-the-land Foundation but only natural owner who provides humans the opportunity to learn and develop their wisdom, 31st Century Museum Site Chiangmai which is the place that collects experiences and stories of the beauty and truth of human society in the form of artistic media, World Insect Museum and Natural Wonders which displays the research conducted with love and the inspiration from a single rock that is carried for ages and bring the understanding of the balance of life in nature, Johny Gallery the artist who generates the encouragement together with happiness to welcome all friends, and is independent of any repressive systems, Mr. Colonel the soldier who has been donating bananas with his delicate spirit to the people who are matched in moral conducts in the vegetarian restaurant for more than 10 years, and the last but not least, the Maiiam Museum of Contemporary Art which is an area that extends the appreciation of human beauty in the style of the Museum of Contemporary Art.

These real and actual stories allow every participant who has the opportunity to learn from that mentioned area to face and appreciate the discovery of goodness through first-hand experiences that generate positive energy to his or her mind. Similarly, in the areas of Bangkok, all of us can discover the pure spiritual power that exists in every single complex corner. In the darkness, there is spiritual beauty always either appearing or hiding. Many of the things that we have encountered regularly may be something valuable we have overlooked; it might be just because we have not looked at it with our delicate mind. Some aspects of ordinary lives are blessed with something less in value, and this may help us discover the energy that inspires ourselves to create new life continually and gleefully on earth. Today, I am very fortunate to learn empirically through every step of every process of this project, and this enables me to understand more thoroughly that goodness, truth, and beauty can be touched, perceived, and inspired easily from every moment in life through the surroundings if we are willing to open our hearts and minds to recognize more in details of the contexts even though there is no way to call it simple when it comes to a way to share the power of them in a concrete way to be widely perceived in society. Throughout this project, the working team has faced a number of many problems or constraints. If they do not have the pure heart of every participant who is willing to spend their full energies together for almost a year to endeavor the achievement, it will be very difficult for the exhibition “31st Century Museum Exhibition in Bangkok (Land of Smile)” to reach the destination. This time, I would like to express my gratitude and respect to all the participants of this project, who have been working together on this project from the beginning to the final stage of it.

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Panya Petchu

On the morning of the 17th, I was asked to give a lecture at Por Chang Academy of Arts on the topic of “avant-garde art” with reference to the 31st Century Museum in Bangkok. Before the lecture, I was making my way to the toilet when I noticed a huge poster depicting a coin embossed with the portrait of an unknown man on the front, and on the back of the coin there was a message, “I am not an artist. If I were one, then who shall become the teacher.” That line really captured my attention and left a strong imprint on me. Wondering who the man was, I stopped in my tracks and read the details. It was Ajarn Panya Petchu, whom I had never known personally nor realized his significance — which must have been remarkable, otherwise, why would the coin be created bearing his portrait. Curious, I decided to ask the student who stood nearby. He kindly told me that Ajarn Panya is a very kind and attentive teacher who is loved and respected by everyone at Por Change Academy of Arts. I then proceeded to inquire how kind he is, and the student said he treats underprivileged students with loving-kindness. If they cannot afford food, he will treat them by telling the vendors to let them eat for free and charge him later. He has continued this practice for many decades because he, too, was once poor. I could not contain myself from asking if such a person truly exists, to which he said, “I am also one of those students who get to eat for free when I don’t have money”. Listening to his answer, I felt so elated that I started tearing up.

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At that point, I came to realize why fate guided me here to do the 31st Century Museum project. Ajarn Panya Petchu is the perfect exemplar of the underlying concept of the 31st Century Museum of Contemporary Spirit, “Our body is our Museum and Spirit is art.” I began to comprehend the true meanin g of the sentence, “I am not an artist. If I were one, then who shall become the teacher”, which sheds light on the sense of pure and selfless loving-kindness. I recognize that being a good teacher is the same as being a good artist, there is no difference between the two realms.

In order to be a good artist, or a good practitioner of any kind of disciplines, we need to always be ourselves, while also striving to carry out our own responsibilities and respect the value of oneself and others as human being, regardless of who we are and what profession we are engaged in. Achieving success is not as important as being successful in maintaining our core value as a human being which is loving-kindness towards others, not only because it is fundamental to the power of creativity, but also because it is the point where heaven, earth, and all mankind become one. Loving-kindness plays a pivotal role in driving society forward.

I hope that the stories and artworks that we all shared in this exhibition would turn into the source of power to transform society, helping everyone to remain aware of our fundamental nature which is the inherent loving-kindness. Although at times we may completely forget about it, I still believe that our sense of loving-kindness can be awakened by reflecting inwards and enquiring very deeply into ourselves without prejudice, expectation, and judgment — simply observing and presenting the truths neutrally. We can look at past events as inspirations or miracle moments that took place with either positive or negative energy. They could happen intentionally or inadvertently, and could also be something that were experienced first-hand as much as the stories of others, just like my encounter with the story of Ajarn Panya Petchu. These little narratives from all of us are able to remind us of loving-kindness, awakening us to become conscious of the habit of acting in our own self-interest. By expanding this experience of awakening and spreading it to others, we can turn individual daily lifestyle into a contemporary culture that contributes to the development of society that is based on loving-kindness.

 

Kamin Lertchiprasert
17 July 2018

“Thank You”

IMG_8136Kittikhun said he was deeply impressed by a nurse named Usanee Jorakate who, for the past 36 years, has been taking attentive care of terminally-ill patients and doing everything in her power to make their final wishes come true. For example, one patient expressed his desire to marry his girlfriend before he died, so she helped them to arrange a marriage registration. She also made it possible for one middle-aged woman to speak for the last time with her daughter who attended a boarding school in a different city. She also granted a foreigner who had an accident and got terminally ill a dying wish by bringing him to sit by the beach and swim in the sea. One of her patients was a kid with advanced cancer who loved to watch cartoons, so she contacted acting students from a university to perform a joyful play for him before he passed away.

There are many heartfelt stories of how she has helped her dying patients realize their dreams. Though this may mean a little to us, it means so much for those who are physically dependent on others’ assistance. However, what she has done so far is her personal choice to give something to her patients, which is outside the scope of her employment at the hospital. Therefore, she has to pay out of her own pocket or request for assistance and collaboration from others.

Because her story left an imprint on him, Kittikhun has produced a video which features her interview, but with her voice muted and messages from her patient’s “Thank-you” letter were added as captions instead. The artist wanted to connect the two people from different dimensions of time and bring them together on the same space through love and loving-kindness.

 

6 November 2018
“Workshop Shirt”

IMG_7723 IMG_7604To earn his living, Treethep used to hand-paint “workshop shirts” for vocational students across Thailand. He would paint image of Lord Vishwakarma and the emblems of different vocational colleges as requested by his clients. Most of his works conjure up feelings of aggression and offense. As a result, one of his clients whom he was very close to was shot dead and got his workshop shirt removed because an image of Lord Vishwakarma stepping on the emblem of the dead man’s rival college was painted on it. This made Treethep believe himself to be partially responsible for the man’s death. He regretted it and determined not to custom-paint “workshop shirts” ever again.

This time, his work that is featured in the 31st Century Museum of Contemporary Spirit in Bangkok depicts Lord Vishwakarma, the deity of all craftsmen, surrounded by colorful flowers on a doctor’s pristine white gown. The artist aims to use art as a tool to heal emotional pain, for both himself and for others.

I found his artwork truly inspiring because it shows that great work does not necessarily have to be inspired by positive force alone. Nothing is actually good or bad, positive or negative in nature; such differentiation exists only in our minds. Therefore, recognizing the reality and accepting it just the way it is without prejudices are how we can begin to solve the problem and this very notion is represented through this white “workshop shirt”.

6 November 2018

 

“The Hub”

Image_201 Image_200The Hub offers a shelter for street children and young adults with social problems. These people often display offensive behaviors and aggression as a result of growing up in a dysfunctional family earlier in life which leads to many other severe issues, including substance abuse, stealing, prostitution, and violence.

Once a member of this marginalized group of young people, Itthipol has similar adverse childhood experiences and strongly feels the sense of empathy and compassion for them. He used to volunteer at this foundation to share what he knows about art and provide sex education. However, though he went there with a good intention of imparting his knowledge, many times he found himself on the verge of losing his patience due to their use of obscene and disrespectful language. Then, when he regained his composure, he began to realize how hard it must have been for the staffs who are there day in and day out to deal with a plethora of problems in order to help these ill-fated children. He felt deeply impressed with their dedication and it inspired him to create this piece of artwork.

Itthipol got a chance to interview one staff, asking him to talk about the reason behind his decision to work at this foundation, the causes of these street kids’ problems, and ways we can contribute to the solution. The staff remarked that, in a way, all these problems also come from us. Almost every girl who seeks shelter at the Hub has been assaulted and raped by members of her own family. Thus, dysfunctional families can be the root cause of many ensuing problems because these unfortunate children have nowhere else to go, thus becoming homeless. Struggling to fend for themselves, they then became entangled in other social issues. Itthipol has republished this interview article, using gray text on a black background with selected alphabets from the staff’s interview printed in white which, when put together, produce profane words such as ค_ว_ย (dick) เ_หี ้ _ย (asshole).

For me, this artwork represents the meaning of loving-kindness and oneness which lay the foundation for society. It also makes us realize our internal values and the vulnerability of being human by urging us to look beyond physical appearance which may sometimes mislead us to believe that we are different when, in fact, we are all similar in nature.

6 November 2018

 

THANK YOU

Advisors
Kamin Lertchaiprasert
Angkrit Ajchariyasophon
Thanatip Thipwaree

Volunteers
Jukkrit Sua-op
Aucharapon Kunghea
Rattanaporn Jilakahong
Atichart Watanapichetpong
Pawinee Kaewklongnoi
Teerawat Phucksakitkhuncha
Nattapong Panpiew
Worawut Srijampa
Ammarit Rakdam
Itthipol sakjaroanchaigul
Channarong Dangprakam born
Permlarp Chunkesorn
Sornsuda Kanghae

Artists in Project
Jitsing Somboon
Taweesak Molsawat
Thanarit Thipwaree
Khwanrat Chinda
Arnont Nongyao
Krieng Terichanan
Narase Jung
Anusorn Thonthong
Apisak Narinchairungsi
Voraprat Kharanan
Natthaphon Chaiworawat
Kittikorn Sodakul
Siranrom Maneerat
Kraiwit Phothikul
Peerapol Chanthep
Sarawut Jaipein
Thanon Chanklin
Manop Momin
Sittisak Tongdeenok
Siriwan Srisuk
Treethep Silagailas
Arnont Lertpulpol
Keerati Ketkham
Alisa Palaphon
Nutthakorn Kumprong
Nurayatee Khaeyiwa
Khanitta Rasrisai
Wannasiri Boonyen
Thaiyong Srirattanapan
Pasuth Sa-ingthong
Sutawee Somboonpol
Montree Wanapitakkul
Phanthip Thanomchuea
Phakakrong khuenkhancharoen

PR & Publication
Suthep Joisreeket

Sponsor
Dr. Thitipong Navalertporn
NUMTHONG GALLERY

Inspiration from location and Person
Colonel Thongchai Sangratt
Vegetarianism of Chiang Mai (no money can eat)
John Gallery
MAIIAM MUSEUM The land foundation
Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders

Courtesy
Museum Buildings honor
Poh-Chang Academy of Arts
Rajamangala University of Technology Rattanakosin

Share Published on Nov 22, 2018 at 9:39 pm.
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