Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, Thailand, 2018
Curator: Radek Wohlmuth
The fundraising exhibition ‘Intermundia’ was organized under the patronage of and with financial support from the Czech Embassy in Bangkok, represented by the ambassador Marek Libřický, and in co-operation with the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. The money raised at the exhibition was donated to help poor people and children injured by unexploded munition in Laos. Some paintings were donated to the Mittaphab Hospital in Vientiane, a hospital completely built and equipped with state-of-the-art equipment by Czech companies. The exhibition contains 20 large-scale prints of site-specific interventions made in Europe, but also all projects realised in Asia as part of my expedition Road to Artasia, under the patronage of the Czech Embassy in Bangkok. As a part of the exhibition, I also exhibited two installations in front of the gallery entrance which became parts of the first international art biennial in Thailand called ‘Beyond Bliss’. The first one titled ‘Intermundium’ was installed in front of the main gallery entrance. An intermundium – a space between worlds – visualised as an object made from iron barriers bound together by ropes into a shape of a chaotic order, standing inside a clearly delimited space where it is protected by the same barriers it is made from. The ropes holding its shape together have loose ends lying on the ground stretching beyond the delimited space and anyone can pick these ends up and change their continuation. These rules can also be destroyed by use of violence or eliminated by slow disentangling the same way it was created. A mountain of complex and inaccessible obstacles standing, however, on a frail construction. The second installation was an intervention into the Nang Phisuea Samut statue standing at the gallery’s side entrance. Nang Phisuea Samut is a traditional figure of a human-eating female giant from a Thai national fantasy epos Phra Aphai Mani, written by the poet Sunthorn Phu. It is the longest epos written in the Thai language, consisting of 48 686 couplets, and took Sunthorn Phu 22 years to write, from 1822 to 1844. It was written during the period of Western colonization of Southeast Asia and some critics believe that Sunthorn Phu wrote the poem as an anti-colonial story dressed in a fairy tale fantasy adventure garment. The epos became a part of national folklore and was adapted in theatre, film, comic books, etc. Her statue is positioned in front of the gallery in such a way that people can take pictures of themselves clutched in her hand. I used the ornamentality of the Czech traditional Christmas gingerbread decoration to turn the human-eating giant into a sweet snack to be eaten by people, thus connecting the European and Asian traditions – both past ones and, perhaps, contemporary ones. A Thai female giant with a Christmas star on her forehead.* In Asia, there is the so-called ‘digitalization of the bioform’ going on and people even go to galleries mainly to take selfies. Selfies are the main point of interest here and not the artworks – those are only used as background for the selfies, and there isn’t much interest in learning about the content of the artworks either. It’s a big phenomenon, so I decided to make an imitation of a cell phone and put it in her free hand, so that the whole situation looks like the female giant is taking a selfie. *A reference to a famous Czech fairy tale film ‘The Princess with the Golden Star’ (1959).