Korakrit Arunanondchai

Korakrit Arunanondchai, 'Painting with history in a room filled with people with funny names 3', 2015–16, HD video, denim, foam, wood, 24:55 mins. Installation view (2016) at Cockatoo Island for the 20th Biennale of Sydney. Courtesy the artist; C L E A R I N G, New York and Brussels; and Carlos/Ishikawa, London. This project was made possible with assistance from Dr Clinton Ng. Photograph: Leila Joy
Korakrit Arunanondchai, Painting with history in a room filled with people with funny names 3, 2015–16, HD video, denim, foam, wood, 24:55 mins. Installation view (2016) at Cockatoo Island for the 20th Biennale of Sydney. Courtesy the artist; C L E A R I N G, New York and Brussels; and Carlos/Ishikawa, London. This project was made possible with assistance from Dr Clinton Ng. Photograph: Leila Joy

Born 1986 in Bangkok, Thailand
Lives and works in New York, USA and Bangkok

Korakrit Arunanondchai draws on an eclectic array of references in his practice: from popular culture, technology and geopolitics, to Buddhist and animist precepts and their contemporary manifestations in Thailand. Whether taking form as denim body painting, performance, or immersive installation, Arunanondchai’s pastiche of styles and mediums celebrates the blurring of fantasy and reality, science and incorporeality, art and life.

Over the past four years, Arunanondchai has developed a number of performances and cinematic installations about the making of a painter; for the 20th Biennale, as part of the Embassy of the Real, he presents the epilogue to this series, Painting with history in a room filled with people with funny names 3, 2015. The video is presented within an immersive space, featuring a runway dressed in acid wash denim, a fabric the artist has incorporated into many of his works, and in his paintings, it often serves in place of canvas. This setting also acts as a stage – for the work, for an audience, and for performance artist boy child, Arunanondchai’s frequent collaborator, who embodies in real time the mythical Naga serpent that features in the video as part of her one-off performance, Untitled Lip Sync #225, 2016.

The film features the fictional character of a Thai denim painter, whose autobiography and image are indistinguishable from Arunanondchai himself, who he says is ‘basically just like me but more like the art character of me.’[1] This representation of the self is not an avatar, but is used, instead, as a means to communicate with the audience. In Painting with history in a room filled with people with funny names 3, this logic is amped up, where the artist speaks exclusively to Chantri, the invisible main character, embodied by a drone, an incarnation of a fictitious audience and Arunanondchai’s consciousness. Other exchanges take place with an ‘in-between space’, all mediated through communication technology, spirits and abstraction: ‘I am a machine / boosting energy into the universe / and you / you are the spirit in the wind around me / a thought turned into a vector and projected into the air.’

Using his characteristic cut-and-paste aesthetic, in Painting with history in a room filled with people with funny names 3 Arunanondchai maps out ‘a techno-animism of reality’.[2] While touching on themes of identity, history and the cultural impact of globalisation and technology, he simultaneously explores the development of his own persona and constructed image as an artist, addressing notions of authenticity and self-representation in the process.

Korakrit Arunanondchai has held numerous solo exhibitions worldwide, including ‘Painting with history in a room filled with people with funny names 3’, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2015); ‘2558’, Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2015); ‘Letters to Chantri #1’ featuring boychild, The Mistake Room, Los Angeles (2014); and ‘Korakrit Arunanondchai’, MoMA PS1, New York (2014). Selected group exhibitions include ‘Private Settings’, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw (2014–15); and ‘Beware Wet Paint’, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2014).

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[1] Email to the author, 2 December 2015.
[2] ibid.

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