ShanghART Singapore is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Thai artist Arin Rungjang. A pioneer of installation art in Thailand whose practice is deeply intertwined with Southeast Asian histories, symbols, and memories, this exhibition presents three of the artist’s latest works that explore the diasporic narratives of migrant workers. The works are exhibited in three locations; in the main gallery space, on the balcony outside the gallery, as well as a temporary space at Blk 7, #01-13.
When the governing structures of imperialism collapsed and began fading at the end of the 19th century, kingdoms and nations around the world found themselves plagued by the forces of capitalism. Driven by the advancements in technology and media, the pervasive impact of capitalism manifests in the form of globalization that blurs the boundaries of human desires and ethics. With human migration reaching a new height, the migration of labour around the world calls into question our understanding and attitudes to those exploited by the system.
Rungjang’s new works continue his explorations on the experiences of diasporic communities. Through interviewing and working with migrant workers in various countries, Rungjang pieces together the personal experience of his late father who was assaulted by racists when he was working in Germany. Connected through this theme of familial trauma, the two-part work Prayong (Aglaia odorata): Dedicated to my Father lays its focus on the long-lasting impacts of migrant labour in the private realm. The main space of the gallery will be dominated by a single-channel silent video portrait, filmed in Singapore. A sound installation will also be presented with accompanying text. An outdoor work features a scaffold as a sculptural object alongside a live performance.
The work exhibited in Blk 7 is a ten-screen video installation, Shooting an Elephant and The Leader, first presented in Shanghai Biennale 2018. The work traces back both personal narrative and social history crossing different time periods, cultures, and languages. The artist sheds light on the memories of two people who lived in Myanmar at distinct times, taking references from George Orwell’s famous essay “Shooting an Elephant”, as well as the accounts of Watuze Ali, a man of Bengali descent born in Myanmar. With the inclusion of a culturally specific song sung in a male voice and the transcription of a monologue, the work unveils layers of hidden realities from personal memories.
Arin Rungjang (born 1975, Bangkok; lives and works in Bangkok) is known for deftly revisiting historical material, overlapping major and minor narratives across multiple times, places, and languages. His interest lies in lesser-known aspects of Thai history and their intersection with the present in the sites and contexts of his practice. Objects, which can draw together distant events across time and space, are central to his investigations. He has a practice that spans different media and often involves video and site-specific installation. In his exploration of history and everyday life experiences he deftly dissects material and revisits master-narratives through the agency of the small event.
Recent exhibitions include “Bengawan Solo”, Portikus, Germany (2018), “SUNSHOWER: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia 1980s to Now”, Mori Art Museum and The National Art Center, Japan (2017), “Documenta 14”, Kassel, Germany and Athens, Greece (2017), “Mongkut”, Satellite 8 Programme, Maison d’Art Bernard Anthonioz, Paris and CAPC Musée d'art contemporain, Bordeaux, France (2015), “APB Foundation Signature Art Prize”, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore (2014), “Golden Teardrop”, representing Thailand at the 55th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2013). He has participated in the “12th Shanghai Biennale: Proregress”, Shanghai, China (2018), “Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale 2018”, Japan, “JIWA: Jakarta Biennale 2017”, Indonesia.