We invite you to Cédric’s Room, a small room in the back of our home, which houses an immersive installation that combines a soundscape by Hong Kong-based artist Cédric Maridet with video material, documenting stories of artists from Hong Kong and Thailand. Leung Chi Wo Warren, I-na Phuyuthanon, Yim Sui Fong, Mit Jai Inn, Samson Young, Him Lo, Piyarat Piyapongwiwat, Law Yuk-mui, Arin Rungjang, Chulayarnnon Siriphol, and wen yau share their experiences with the international art world system. By bringing together their views, we aim to contribute to the current urgent discussion on the possibilities and challenges for organising international connections that benefit the ‘local’ art infrastructure and restrict instrumentalised art practices.
If we are to believe the hype, the dawn of Thai contemporary art is near. Soon, Bangkok will be ‘on the international art map’ and become ‘the next world-class art destination’. As if repeating such mantras automatically makes them true. And while Thailand’s ascent into the international art world league apparently is on the cusp of happening, it never becomes quite clear what exactly ensues when the world comes crashing in, and who benefits when this happens.
Artists and art institutions have been actively seeking international connections, as these stimulate encounters with other worldviews, thus helping to reveal and decentre hegemonial perceptions and acting as a basis for empowerment. Others, however, seek to establish international contacts in the service of different ends: for instance to brand cities on the global stage, to sell real estate or luxury goods, to reinforce dominant images of the nation, or simply to make money on the market. Art and artists alike are caught in the middle.
Only a little while ago, in Hong Kong the situation was remarkably similar. Now the de facto centre of the commercial international art world in Asia, not even a decade ago this city’s dramatic development would have sounded like a far-fetched prophecy. In Hong Kong and Thailand, artists see how worlds collide and markers of success change, and they are forced to redefine what it means to be an artist. How have they experienced their contacts with the international art world? And under which conditions can these be a force for good?
Coming soon to a city near you: the international contemporary art world system. Buckle up for the ride. And join the conversation.