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The Spirits of Maritime Crossing

The Spirits of Maritime Crossing

The Spirits of Maritime Crossing

Collateral event of the 60th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia

20 April - 24 November 2024

Curator: Prof. Dr. Apinan Poshyananda

15 artists - see the list

Venue: Palazzo Smith Mangilli Valmarana
Location, contacts

The Bangkok Art Biennale (BAB) Foundation presents The Spirits of Maritime Crossing, a Collateral Event of the 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. The exhibition showcases a constellation of artworks from Southeast Asia, reflecting upon cultural flows and moving water as metaphors of unexplored ocean and territories. The featured artworks range from paintings, and sculptures to mixed media works and video installations.

The Spirits of Maritime Crossing, curated by Prof. Dr. Apinan Poshyananda, highlights themes of displacement, diaspora, colonialism, and hybrids of diverse cultures across Southeast Asia with a particular emphasis on symbolism of water and maritime crossings. The Bangkok Art Biennale Foundation was founded by Thai Beverage Public Company Limited (ThaiBev) with the support of public and private sectors.

About the exhibition

Abby CHEN and YUAN Goang-Ming © Photo: Courtesy of Taipei Fine Arts Museum

Marina Abramović and Pichet Klunchun: The Spirits of Maritime Crossing, 2022. Single screening, performed by Marina Abramović and Pichet Klunchun, directed by Apinan Poshyananda, stereo, 34.27 min. Commissioned by Bangkok Art Biennale Foundation. Video trailer on YouTube.
Video still. Courtesy by the artists. © Bangkok Art Biennale Foundation

In a new film created with dancer Pichet Klunchun, Marina Abramović, an icon of the diaspora, travels from Venice to Bangkok. Her spirit encounters Monkey King, played by Klunchun with priests and talismans. The work tells the story of a wandering spirit traveling in the foreign land connecting Venice and Bangkok. Bangkok as Venice of the East is closely linked with the Italian diaspora.

Chitti Kasemkitvatana and Nakrob Moonmanas: Our Place in Their World, 2023. Two-channel video installation, color, sound, 4:00 min. Commissioned by Bangkok Art Biennale Foundation.
© Photo: Haupt & Binder, Universes in Universe

In parallel worlds of Italy and Siam, Chitti Kasemkitvatana and Nakrob Moonmanas create phantasmagorial montages of foreigners and commoners whispering in different tongues.

Jompet Kuswidananto: Terang Boelan (Moonshine), 2022. Broken glasses, glass chandeliers, iron, wood, upright piano components, electronics, 200 x 150 x 200 cm. 
© Photo: Haupt & Binder, Universes in Universe

Colonizers and missionaries brought new faith and left behind painful memories. Jompet Kuswidananto’s twinkling shards evoke broken vessels and shattered dreams in the vast ocean.

Alwin Reamillo. From the series: Jesus is condemned to death, 2023. Mixed media on a constructed box and objects, 61 x 30 x 14.3 cm each. 
© Photo: Haupt & Binder, Universes in Universe

Across the archipelago, Christianity became enmeshed with locality. Alwin Reamillo weaves cultural currents through found objects and assemblages. Fourteen Stations of the Cross reveal layers of colonialism and Christian iconography through subjects on migration, New World Disorder and globalization.

Natee Utarit: Temple of the King, 2019. Oil on canvas, 190 x 262 cm (left)
The Man without a past, 2018. Oil on canvas, 190 x 228 cm (right)
© Photo: Haupt & Binder, Universes in Universe

Natee Utarit infuses Buddhist philosophy with Western art history that convey contradiction and absurdity. East-West encounters depict foreigners everywhere in temples and piazzas. Convoluted time and space take viewers back to the time when serene and exotic life of foreigners searched for abundance and refuge between Venice and Bangkok.

Bounpaul Phothyzan: Story from Plateau, 2019. Metal sculpture, 40 x 40 x 200 cm. 
© Photo: Haupt & Binder, Universes in Universe

For Bounpaul Phothyzan, the remnants during American occupation in Southeast Asia left scars and trauma. Bombshells discarded in rice fields are carved to record victims crippled and killed by mighty foreigners. They are a haunting testament to the memory of violence.

Khvay Samnang, Calling for Rain, 2021. Single channel video, colour, sound, 30'42". Commissioned for the Children’s Biennale by the National Gallery of Singapore. 
© Photo: Haupt & Binder, Universes in Universe

Mythological dancers by Khvay Samnang inspired by Ramayana relate to hegemony and deforestation. Rain dance is intertwined with local worship to nourish harvest and dispel foreign threats from the fire dragon.

Yee I-Lann: Budi's Song, 2023. Single channel film, 12:37 min. loop. 
Jalan-jalan cari Jalan (Walking around looking for the Way), 2024. Bajau Sama Dilaut pandanus weav, plastic rubbish collected at Omadal Island, 600 x 250 cm
© Photo: Haupt & Binder, Universes in Universe

Yee I-Lann and sea-based communities explore maritime histories to revive ancestral knowledge. She addresses issues of indigenous connections by collaborating with weavers and local communities. Mats stitched with rubbish washed ashore by tidal currents connect Venice and Borneo.

Truong Cong Tung, The State of Absence – Voices from Outside, 2020 - Ongoing. Gourds, water, soil, seeds, machinery, time, and temperature, variable dimension. 
© Photo: Haupt & Binder, Universes in Universe

Gourds by Truong Cong Tung are analogous to spirits from Vietnam, with drops of water and bubbles symbolizing time and decay shared by humanity. These strange objects are reminders of distant land and foreigners across maritime crossings.

Jakkai Siributr: There's no Place, 2020. Ongoing geographically mobile collaborative 'call-and-response' embroidery installation, hand embroidery on fabric, dimensions variable.
© Photo: Haupt & Binder, Universes in Universe

Embroideries by Jakkai Siributr evoke the plight of stateless people, whose pursuit of freedom is a violent path. As a commentary on ethnic cleansing, Siributr collaborated with asylum seekers, who are assumed to be strangers and foreigners everywhere they go.

Moe Satt: Hunting & Dancing: 15 years, 2023. Two-channel, B/W, sound, 4K video, 12:52 min, performed by Moe Satt and Liah Frank, camera by Martin Toloku. 
Courtesy the artist; Nova Contemporary. © Moe Satt

Moe Satt uses his body as a space of identity, difference, and estrangement. His video performance, inspired by dance and tribal hunting, suggests survival of sectarian violence in his homeland.

Priyageetha Dia: The Sea is a Blue Memory, 2022. 3D animation, 10:25 min. Commissioned by Kochi-Muziris Biennale. Supported by National Arts Council, Singapore.
© Photo: Haupt & Binder, Universes in Universe

Priyageetha Dia’s video of the deep sea examines ancestral migratory movements from India to the Malay Peninsula. Drawing from her family experience, Dia looks at the way migrants across the Indian Ocean are perceived as foreigners and marginalized. Maritime currents enmesh subaltern culture with diasporic histories.

Kawita Vatanajyankur: A Symphony Dyed Blue, 2021. 4K video, 6:13 min. Still from video. 
© Photo: Haupt & Binder, Universes in Universe

For her piece, Kawita Vatanajyankur, performs in foamy blue dye from textile industry as a way to discuss female labor in the patriarchal society and the role of water in the context of femininity and textile industry. Female labor, feminism and abuse are parts of being foreign.

Southeast Asian artists from the Global South are in many ways similar, but also differ in ethnicities, religions, languages that make them foreign to one another. The legacy of these nations is seen within foreigners, refugees, immigrants and stateless people, the so called ‘cultural hybrids’. The Spirits of Maritime Crossing is a journey from Southeast Asia to Venice through cultural and diasporic experiences—viewed through eyes of foreigners dispersed from their homeland, physically and spiritually.

About the curator

Prof. Dr. Apinan Poshyananda, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Bangkok Art Biennale is curator of The Spirits of Maritime Crossing exhibition. Poshyananda has curated and directed international art exhibitions across Asia, Europe, USA, and Oceania including Traditions/Tensions, New York; Thai and Australian sections, Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art; Asian section, São Paulo Biennial; Thai section, Istanbul Biennial; as well as Tout à Fait Thai, Paris. Commissioner and curator of the Thai Pavilion, 50th Venice Biennale 2003; Commissioner of the Thai Pavilions at the 51st Venice Biennale 2005, and at the 52nd Venice Biennale 2007.

Poshyananda comments: “We are delighted to announce The Spirits of Maritime Crossing as a historical event as Southeast Asia artists will participate in the collateral program at the 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Moreover, it is a great honor that a new short film featuring world-renowned Marina Abramović, winner of Golden Lion at Venice Biennale, will be shown at Palazzo Mangilli Valmarana. The contents of this film and exhibition that focuses on sea travel, displacement and diaspora relate directly with the theme of Foreigners Everywhere”.

see the biography

About the venue

© Photo: Courtesy of Palazzo Smith Mangilli Valmarana

Palazzo Smith Mangilli Valmarana was once the home of British Consul Joseph Smith, who was a passionate art collector. He was an agent of Canaletto and patron of Venetian painters. Smith and his wife, soprano singer Catherine Tofts turned the palazzo into a bustling social and artistic hub for art collectors, patrons, scholars, aficionados, artists, actors, musicians, philosophers, diplomats, and dignitaries. Among the visitors were Pietro Longhi, Giovanni Baptista Piazzetta, Giuseppe Zais, Carlo Goldoni, Rosalba Carriera. Count Giuseppe Mangilli who later became owner commissioned Giannantonio Selva to direct the decoration of the interiors in neoclassical style with subjects related to virtue, amour, and sacrifice. The palazzo is still perfectly preserved and will open to the public after 12 years with the launch of The Spirits of Maritime Crossing.

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The Spirits of Maritime Crossing
Palazzo Smith Mangilli Valmarana
Strada Nova, 4392
Campo Santi Apostoli, Cannaregio
Next waterbus station: Ca' d'Oro
Open Wed - Sun 10 am - 6 pm
(Closed on public holidays)
Location on map

Website: smc.bkkartbiennale.com


Bangkok Art Biennale Foundation
(Head office) 
20th Floor, Park Ventures Ecoplex
57 Wireless Road, Lumpini, Patumwan
Bangkok 10330, Thailand

Connect with Bangkok Art Biennale:
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Media coordinators:

International Communications at BAB: 
Arina Matveeva
Email, (+66) 083-088-9385
For all media-related inquiries, please ensure that Arina Matveeva is copied on all correspondence

International PR Agency:
Scott & Co, Carlotta Dennis-Lovaglio
Email, (+44) 20 3487 0077

From press information.
© Cover photo: Marina Abramović and Pichet Klunchun: The Spirits of Maritime Crossing, 2022 (video still). Single screening, performed by Marina Abramović and Pichet Klunchun, directed by Apinan Poshyananda. Commissioned by Bangkok Art Biennale Foundation. Courtesy the artists. © Bangkok Art Biennale Foundation

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