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22 October 2022 – 23 February 2023. Theme: CHAOS : CALM. Chief Executive & Artistic Director: Apinan Poshyananda. Curatorial team: Nigel Hurst, Loredana Pazzini-Paracciani, Jirat Ratthawongjirakul, Chomwan Weeraworawit. 73 participants.
Founded in 2017, Bangkok Art Biennale (BAB) is an art festival set in the capital of Thailand. Spanning various venues over a period of four months, BAB transforms the bustling city of Bangkok into a lively hub that celebrates art, creativity, and culture. Visitors are invited to immerse themselves in contemporary art from a diverse range of contemporary artists, both local and international, throughout the city in art and cultural spaces, as well as in Bangkok’s iconic landmarks, temples and public spaces.
The inaugural Bangkok Art Biennale (BAB 2018) themed Beyond Bliss was the first major international contemporary art festival in Thailand and attracted over two million visitors across 20 venues featuring 75 artists; while BAB 2020, Espace Routes, garnered 2.3 million viewers online and over 400 thousand visitors across 10 venues showcasing 82 artists, despite being mounted amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Those numbers were among the highest for the eight international biennales that kept to schedule during lockdowns. BAB 2022, CHAOS : CALM, welcomed nearly 1 million visitors across 12 venues that showcased 73 artists.
In addition, BAB is accompanied by a rich programme of public events, including educational conferences, talks, hands-on workshops, guided visits, publications, and online programs to ensure a memorable and educational experience for all.
Bangkok, one of the world's most attractive tourist destinations comprises of complex multilayers of heritage, traditions, religions and ethnicities. In the past, Bangkok thrived with travelers and traders from China, India and Europe who witnessed life on Chao Praya River and canals with riverboats, rafts and rice barges. Missionaries, diplomats and artists recorded their experience of Bangkok with overwhelming joy and delight. Comparison between Bangkok and Venice became popular as visitors frequently viewed Bangkok as "Venice of the East". Today, Bangkok as mega city is sprawled with condominiums, malls and skyscrapers. More than ever, visitors are attracted to Bangkok for leisure, warm climate, business, hospitality, cuisine, entertainment and spiritual enlightenment.
Prof. Dr. Apinan Poshyananda, Chief Executive & Artistic Director of the Bangkok Art Biennale, mentioned an interesting historical relation between Thailand and the Venice Biennale:
(extract from an interview in BAB Magazine, issue 1)
The second Venice Biennale took place in 1897, the same year when King Rama V visited Europe for the 1st time and he actually paid a visit to the Biennale as well. The visit was documented as well as the story about the Siamese King buying some of the works of art exhibited at the biennale. 10 years later in 1907, King Rama V’s second visit to Europe is evidence of his interest in the festival. It was the period when Thailand, or Siam at the time, was going through a great deal of changes as a result of the country’s modernization and this sort of taste-making process.
This is the part where art got involved. He would visit art exhibitions and purchase some of the works and have them shipped back home; it was all a part of an attempt to show that the people of Siam were culturally civilized. At the very same time, King Rama VI who was the appointed Crowned Prince, was studying in Europe and he joined King Rama V’s visits at different art exhibitions. The participation led to the idea of Siam taking part in the event. Later, under the reign of King Rama VI, in 1911, the Turin International happened with Siam’s participation and construction of the Siamese Pavilion. The structure had Italian architects Carlo Allegri and Mario Tamagno overseeing the design and construction. The pavilion was built in Siam before it was transported to Turin to be reassembled. Brought along with the pavilion were local craft products, which were exhibited in the pavilion. After the exposition was over, King Rama VI wished to have this type of exposition held in Bangkok. He then granted the land known as Sala Daeng field (a part of that expansive land became today’s Lumpini Park) to be used as the site where the exposition would be held. The plan was made and everything was being prepared when the First World War struck, causing the project to be terminated.
From press information.
© Photos: Bangkok Art Biennale