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Thailand Biennale, Korat 2021

18 December 2021 - 31 March 2022
Korat, Nakhon Ratchasima Province, Thailand

Artistic Director: Yuko Hasegawa

Tawatchai Somkong, Vipash Purichanont, Seiha Kurosawa

List of participants
54 artists and groups from 26 countries and regions

Organizer: Office of Contemporary Art and Culture, Ministry of Culture (OCAC)

Butterflies Frolicking on the Mud: Engendering Sensible Capital

The second edition of Thailand's leading international event of contemporary art takes place in Korat, Nakhon Ratchasima Province from 18 December 2021 to 31 March 2022. Organized by the Office of Contemporary Art and Culture (OCAC) each event is hosted by a different region in Thailand. In addition to exhibitions at museums and art spaces, it proposes the use of natural and urban outdoor locations, as well as the production of site-specific art projects at unusual venues in collaboration with local communities.

Artistic Director Yuko Hasegawa has chosen as theme Butterflies Frolicking on the Mud: Engendering Sensible Capital. It is meant in the sense of "a proposal and a practice, primarily focusing on the ecologies specific to this region. These 'ecologies' do not refer only to natural environments: they also encompass an entire array of elements that surround us. Instead of a critique of current global capitalism, the proper practical role of art today ought to create a new 'sensible' capital focusing on a system of engendering, by leveraging its open, transversal nature." The idea of this new capital is inspired by the theory of ‘social common capital’ of the Japanese economist Dr. Hirofumi Uzawa.

But her decision for this title was sparked by a natural incident, as Hasegawa explains: "Past spring, there was a massive outbreak of beautiful butterflies with white and yellow-green wings because COVID-19 has reduced the movement of people and restored nature. The butterflies were happily fluttering around in the mud. It is well known that butterflies paddle on the mud to detoxify and rehydrate. Similarly, we are trying to figure out what is going on around us now and what we can do in the uncertain future. The title Butterflies Frolicking on the Mud expresses our miserable but courageous state. It indicates the 'capital' of hope that emerges from the midst of anxiety and uncertainty."

Curatorial concept

Initially, all the artists were expected to come to Korat for conducting on-site research and produce their work, but overseas artists were unable to travel due to the pandemic. It has been a challenge for all involved to create site-specific works at 14 locations with remote research and virtual cooperation. However, the artists’ hard work and passion for creating what was best for the site, while changing their proposals a few times, combined with their incredible imagination and simulation skills, made the local staff sympathetic and involved. Consequently, the plans and visions proposed by the artists, through the interpretation and imagination of the local partners, became a substantial joint production.

For example, Sandra Cinto has covered a promenade in the center of Korat city with blue tiles utilizing motifs taken from drawings made in a workshop with local children. Japanese architect Tsuyoshi Tane has activated the aura of the Khmer relics placed in the outdoor storage of the Phimai Museum with a light/sound installation. Thai architect Boonserm Premthada has built a wooden nine-meter tower structure in the city's zoo inspired by traditional rice barns, but to be used as a feeding ground for animals, and encountering place for people.

KEIKEN, a three female artists collective, created an online decision-making game and non-fungible token (NFT) collectibles project that is playable both online and on-site at the biennale. Charlotte Dumas, inspired by a conversation with her daughter during the lockdown period, focused on the complex relations between human society and animals with an elephant procession on traditional Dutch glazed tiles, combined with video and photographic works. Yllang Montenegro modified her initial project to a sculptural installation using live plants and aprons made from recycle materials by the local Filipino community. It can be seen in the pavilion of the Monument to Thao Suranari, a heroine of the city.

The fact that the Rajamangala University of Technology Isan – one of the 14 venues – has been facing repeated lockdowns inspired Nile Koetting to imagine this situation as an airport lounge and performative installation where flights are repeatedly canceled and postponed. At an outdoor seminar hall of the University, PHKA, a floral designer studio that uses flowers and plants as a tool for storytelling, created a garland installation meant as a prayer to the future of the city.

Zai Tang collaborated with the Thai Crane Research Centre to conceive a sound installation inspired by Eastern Sarus Cranes’ unison calls, highlighting endangered species and the region’s conservation effort. Botanist Stefano Mancuso and PNAT installed sensors in a giant banyan tree at a temple and connected it to a glass-enclosed pavilion with purified air produced by plants to listen to the tree's voice through light signals.

Permanently installed artworks commissioned by the Biennale explore relations between local cultures and nature, such as Krit Ngamsom’s sculpture of Korat Cat in front of the Art Gallery, which highlights bonds between animism and abundance, while Pomme Chan's large ceramic mural at Nakhon Ratchasima Zoo combines prehistoric biodiversity with augmented reality technology.

About Korat, Nakhon Ratchasima

Nakhon Ratchasima or Korat is one of the most prosperous provinces of Thailand with the second largest population after Bangkok. It has outstanding historical sites and richness of nature. In addition to serving as the entry point to the Isan region, Korat is also ideally located at the intersection of three cultural spheres: Thai, Khmer, and Lao.

Artists from different countries are invited to collaborate with local communities in Korat so that integration between history, art and culture are encouraged to create a new format of artworks and projects around Korat City, Pak Chong and Phimai District.


Mueang Nakhon Ratchasima District:
- Public Health Accomodation House in Korat
- Bung Ta Lua Water Park
- King Rama IX Commemorative Library
- Wat Phayap
- Skate Park
- Korat Fossil Museum
- Rajamangala University of Technology Isan
- Nakhon Ratchasima Zoo (Korat Zoo)
- Art Gallery & Exhibition
- Thao Suranari Monument

Phi Mai District:
- Arokayasala
- Phimai Historical Park
- Phimai National Museum
- Clock Tower Sentry Box

Organizer, contact:

Office of Contemporary Art and Culture (OCAC)
Ministry of Culture, Thailand
3rd Floor, 10 Thiamruammit Road, Huai Khwang
Bangkok 10310

Website | Email

From press information.
© Cover image on top: Boonserm Premthada, Rice Tower, 2020-2021. Courtesy of Thailand Biennale, Korat 2021.

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