It seems as if Korakrit Arunanondchai‘s name is popping up everywhere. Collaborating with musicians and artists on videos and performances while simultaneously preparing for his show at CLEARING in both Brooklyn and Brussels, Korakrit Arunanondchai is not slowing down anytime soon.
At the time of our visit, Korakrit’s studio was filled with denim fire paintings for his solo show,’Muen Kuey.’ ‘Muen Kuey’ is currently up at CLEARING in Brussels from June 6-July 20. During our conversation, Korakrit talked about his identity and label as a Thai artist and his new body of work.
F: You call yourself a Thai artist. What does that mean and how did you embrace that label?
KA: Since my 2nd year at my open studio in Columbia, I have wanted to embrace the idea of being a Thai artist. I was born in Bangkok but have studied as an artist in America. I went to RISD, which I feel is like the most uber-American art school and then Columbia. I was trying to fancy the idea where I would become a Thai artist and return to Thailand and somehow land in a place between the two.
KA: At RISD I was really into abstraction and fantasy – things like spaces in video games. I really didn’t want to locate my practice within this weird cliche of the Asian artist. But at Columbia, I realized that actually, I do want to. I have a western art education now, but in a way, the history of Thai modern art is one that traces back to the west as well. To try and draw a link in-between to parallel trajectories of these two distinct places that I live in, is the paradox that I am dealing with.
F: Can you talk about your work at Columbia and how that tied in with the work you made at Skowhegan?
KA: I started this series that ended up becoming a trilogy. One for each year. The first one was for my thesis for Columbia University a year ago of a Thai funeral themed installation. It was called “2012-2555.”
When I was at Skowhegan in Maine, I made the second video called “2556″ which is the year 2013 on the Buddhist Calendar. “2556″ is like me being stuck in a purgatory trying to figure how to become an artist through different artistic figures in Thailand. One of the key things that happened in “2556″ is a video clip from the famous Thai TV show, ‘Thailand’s Got Talent.’ This female performance artist did a performance where she was covered in body paint and danced against a white canvas. It became a big taboo because she used her breast to do so and later on, they found out that she actually was a go-go dancer paid by the TV show to boost their ratings.
KA: I wanted to expand this moment so I made a video which ends with me body painting and singing this song. It’s a Thai love song by a 60 year old famous singer who is singing to his wife. In the song, the singer tells his wife she grows more beautiful every day. I feel that it’s a nice song to sing to a painting.
F: So what’s next?
KA: Yeah, so this is the second video. For the next two years, I’m going to work on the third one which is going to be more of a feature film and I’m not going to be in it. It will be an adventure of these 3 Thai girls.
F: In Thailand?
KA: In Thailand and America. It’s going to be a flashback and forward structured … kind of like the t.v. show, LOST. The main character comes to America to find a guy that she has been talking to on OkCupid and it’s more of a travel log through the landscape of America.
F: Kind of like an Easy Rider type?
KA: More like Crossroads by Britney Spears. Then it will be broken up with all of these installations as pretty much all the shows act as small vignettes in the whole narrative structure.