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Bangkok gets its own Biennale


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Bangkok gets its own Biennale
By The Nation



Wat Arun will be among the venues for the Bangkok Biennale debuting a year from November. The Nation/Prasert Thepsri


Venice is the setting as a major contemporary art event is unveiled for 2018-19


The Venice Biennale, where Somboon Hormtienthong, Kawita Vatanajyankur and Anon Pairot have staked the Thai flag, provided an apt setting for the inaugural Bangkok Art Biennale to be announced.


Former Culture Ministry permanent secretary Apinan Poshayanada, who introduced the Thai Pavilion in Venice in 2003, said “BAB” would open in November 2018 and continue into February 2019.


Wat Arun will be among the venues for the Bangkok Biennale debuting a year from November. The Nation/Prasert Thepsri

Bangkok, once nicknamed “the Venice of the East” for its network of canals, is promoting contemporary art, cultural tourism and ambitions for a “creative economy” with BAB expected to draw more than 70 artists from across Asia and Europe.


The announcement as made on May 13 at a hotel by the Grand Canal in Venice’s historic San Marco area. 


The Westin Europa & Regina hotel faces the Santa Maria della Salute, home to paintings by Venetian master Titian, and was itself temporary home to Tiepolo and Monet. Its terrace overlooks the Punta della Dogana, currently hosting the controversial Damien Hirst exhibition “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable”.


Thai Ambassador Tana Weskosith and Venice Deputy Mayor Tana Weskosith welcomed the plans for BAB as a continuation of the strong cultural relationship between the cities that dates back to King Chulalongkorn’s visits to the Venice Biennale in 1897 and 1907. 

Next year is also the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Italy and Thailand.


In 2009, while heading the Culture Ministry’s Office of Contemporary Art and Culture, Professor Dr Apinan initiated the Bangkok Banana international arts festival. The event failed to survive beyond the first year due to a lack of funding.


In contrast, BAB will have solid support from Thai Beverage, whose TCC Group is planning to build the One Bangkok cultural complex on Rama IV Road.



From left, Thai Ambassador Tana Weskosith, BAB artistic director Apinan Poshyananda, Consul General Andrea Marcon and Thai Beverage chief and BAB cofounder Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi. Photo courtesy of BAB


Thai Bev president and chief executive Thapana Sirivadhana-bhakdi, a member of the Foundation of Bangkok Art Biennale, said he expects the participating artists from around the world to “create a new chapter in contemporary art”.


Apinan noted that Thapana’s involvement as co-founder and patron “adds a new dimension to cultural diplomacy as well as cultural tourism and creative economy”.


Sandro Botticelli, the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s marketing manager in Rome, said BAB promises to attract different kinds of tourists and position Bangkok as an international art centre.


Apinan, who serves as BAB chief executive and artistic director, said the event’s theme, “Beyond Bliss”, is designed to encourage the artists and visitors to seek out and discover bliss. 


“In an age of schism, chaos and disruption, we are all in search of our own happiness,” he said. “Contemplation, refuge, intuition and delight can be reached through art and artistic practice. The Bangkok Art Biennale’s venues – temples, historic buildings, public sites and art spaces – will offer the artists and viewers challenges and delights. Heritage and contemporary dynamism will collide and converge.


“Questing and yearning for bliss can be a process of nourishment as well as forms of escapism,” Apinan said. “Artists reflect and share different points of view of serenity and refuge.”



The famous Temple of Dawn features on the logo for the Bangkok Biennale. 


The BAB venues will include Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha), Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn), Wat Prayoon (the Temple of the Iron Fence), the East Asiatic Company building, the Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre and Lumpini Park.


Apinan plans to announce his teams of curators on July 4 at a Bangkok press conference. 


On the BAB board of advisers are Fumio Nanjo off Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum, Alexandra Munroe of the Guggenheim New York, Nigel Hurst of London’s Saatchi Gallery, David Stuart Elliott, formerly of Stockholm’s Moderna Museet, Eugene Tan of Singapore’s National Gallery, Sungjun Kim of the Sonje Art Centre, and Silapathorn Award-winning artist Rikrit Tiravanija, a Venice Biennale veteran.


BAB will also have the support of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, and Tourism Authority.

Find out more at www.BkkArtBiennale.com.


Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/news/life/art_culture/30317061

-- © Copyright The Nation 2017-06-05
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