Inside Bangkok’s booming art scene
With Bangkok Art Biennale and Ghost 2565 taking over the city, we asked curator Chomwan Weeraworawit why Thailand’s capital is a global hotspot for art
Friday 28 October 2022 By Soho House
Soho House Bangkok is set to open this December – and there is no better time to dive deep into Thailand’s creative community and rich cultural life. Bangkok Art and Ghost 2565, both of which kicked off in October, not only draw the best of the international art scene, but also prove that the voices of Thai artists are integral to the future of the industry. To celebrate the art events, Soho House hosted a special pop-up in Bangkok’s Chinatown, a temporary version of the House for Founder members, Thai creatives and art-savvy visitors.
To mark the occasion, we asked Chomwan Weeraworawit, co-curator of Bangkok Art Biennale and founder of Mysterious Ordinary, to round up the most exciting exhibitions, artists, happenings and events that took place across Bangkok’s art scene.
Ghost 2565 is a triennial video and performance art series, now in its second edition. It takes place across the city from gallery spaces to derelict buildings such as the home of the abandoned New World Travel Services, the first travel agency in Thailand. A highlight of the festival is the newly commissioned work by Thai artist, Chantana Tiprachart, showing at Nova Contemporary. Tiprachart’s film, which has been described as both haunting and brilliant, is set in her home region of Isan, in Northeast Thailand.
Bangkok Art Biennale
For the next four months the Bangkok Art Biennale will be the largest umbrella festival in the city, and will offer a launchpad to discover and experience contemporary art in Bangkok. The theme for this will be CHAOS : CALM and the event will feature 73 artists, with more than 150 works spread across 12 venues throughout the city until 23 February 2023. Locations include three royal temples: Wat Prayoon, Wat Arun and Wat Pho, as well as the historical Museum Siam and the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre, among other cultural spaces.
A riverside Chanel dinner
Chanel hosted a dinner to celebrate the Ghost 2565 launch in a riverside villa on a small canal in Bangkok, where guests arrived in a battalion of boats at sunset. Artist Tom Sachs was among them, giving fellow artists and friends a ride on the ‘Grey Infinity’ – his longtail boat made in collaboration with Thai boat builders and displayed at Bangkok Art Biennale. Dinner was served on candlelit tables, followed by an ethereal performance by artist and Ghost 2565 cofounder, Korakrit Arunanondchai, and model and artist Soo Joo Park.
Art in Buddhist temples
One of the ways that art is made accessible in Thailand is by challenging how it can be exhibited in a city like Bangkok, which is abundant with Buddhist temples. The Biennale ensures this by creating conversations and interventions in the temples. For instance, a rarely seen seminal sculpture by late Thai contemporary master Montien Boonma offers a moment of respite and calm in the gardens of Wat Pho. Meanwhile, the figurative sculptures of Antony Gormley remind us of our place in the world as mortals.
Thai contemporary art masters
At the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre, Thai contemporary art master, Arin Rungjang, displays a new piece alongside works by Udomsak Krisanamis. Rungjang represented Thailand in the Venice Biennale and participated in Documenta 14, making his show in Bangkok feel like a homecoming moment. Meanwhile, Krisanamis is one of the most renowned Thai artists, known for his paintings and immersive installations.
Baan Soho celebrations
Baan Soho, the Soho House pop-up on the fourth and fifth floors of the heritage building in Bangkok Chinatown became a space for the city’s creatives, artists and art lovers to connect and celebrate the cultural moment. Guests enjoyed food by Wendy’s Wok World – a Chinese wok pop-up, and a performance by Sam Lui, in collaboration with Na Project and Ghost 2565. Overall, the celebrations showcased Bangkok through an art lens that highlighted the many characteristics of the city, from its chaos and beauty to its dynamism.
Find out more about Soho House Bangkok here.