Serralves opens exhibition on children trapped in cave in Thailand

The exhibition “No history in a room filled with people with funny names 5“, by Korakrit Arunanondchai and Alex Gvojic, is open from today in Serralves, in Porto, focused on the case of children trapped in a cave in Thailand.

This is the first exhibition in Portugal of Korakrit Arunanondchai (Thailand, 1986), an artist who moves between the fields of video, performance, sculpture, and installation and who is divided between two cultures: that of the east, where he was born and grew up and the western, in particular, that of the USA, where from 2009 he studied art and where he has lived in recent years (alternating with stays in Thailand). Arunanondchai’s work explores and relates themes such as Eastern religion and mythology, environment, ecology, music, geopolitics, and technological development, contrasting Asian spirituality with Western pragmatism. Arunanondchai reflects on contemporary life and the situation of humanity at the time of technology, speculating on the consequences of the Anthropocene, it was recently defined and that marks the effect of human activity as the dominant environmental force on the planet, capable of altering its geological composition.

In his practice, the artist uses autobiographical events and experiences. In several works, friends, and family participate and are somehow involved in the work. No history in a room filled with people with funny names 5 (2019) is an installation made in partnership with the artist Alex Gvojic (U.S., 1984), a friend with whom he has been working for several years. Boychild, an artist linked to performance and dance who has regularly collaborated with Korakrit Arunanondchai, is also a figure present in this work.

No history in a room filled with people with funny names 5” involves the viewer in a mysterious and nocturnal environment in which a triple video projection is combined with laser rays emitted from a sculpture that suggests a lying human figure. The earth that covers the floor and the presence of natural materials (shells, branches) resemble a pre- or post-historic environment. “No history in a room filled with people with funny names 5” brings together a great diversity of images and sounds, creating an excessive, engaging and disturbing atmosphere. The videos combine original footage – such as that recorded by a drone from the radio station of Ramasum Camp, a symbol of Thailand’s recent history as an ally of the USA during the Vietnam War and now transformed into a tourist destination – and other pre-existing ones, such as television broadcast of the media episode of the rescue of 12 boys and their football coach who were trapped in a cave in Thailand in 2018.

This work was initially commissioned by the Center d’Art Contemporain Genève for the 2018 Biennale of Moving Image and presented at the Venice Biennale in 2019. This exhibition will be open from November 6th 2020 to April 4th 2021, in Serralves, Porto.

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