Korakrit Arunanondchai and Alex Gvojic (with boychild)

No history in a room filled with people with funny names 5
20.04 - 19.05.2019

No history in a room filled with people with funny names 5 by Korakrit Arunanondchai & Alex Gvojic (with boychild), a long-awaited show after Arunanondchai’s previous appearance in Bangkok, 2016. This new exhibition serves as a reconfiguration of Arunanondchai’s continuous thoughts and collaborations over the past 6 years with two artists Alex Gvojic and boychild. One of two channels of the video installation is edited mostly from the archive of their live performances. Within the cosmology that they built, boychild plays the role of the Naga, a character constantly at state of becoming. No history in a room filled with people with funny names 5 was also created in parallel to the production of the Ghost:2561 series in Bangkok last year.

Arunanondchai has been riveted by the oral storytelling and other forms of myth-making that mutate and pass on over time, namely, ‘No history’ zones—the unwritten story of ‘people with funny names.’ Over 6 years of personal and collective [hi]stories that have transfigured into a series of Painting with History to this recent piece called No History, Arunanondchai applies a felicitous use of media to create the world that verged on montages of localized subjectivities, united by geographical, regional or internet niches, coming together to create ephemeral stories that insist on their resurgence.

In Arunanondchai’s works, the body is placed in its nascent state where human subjects trying various routes to get back—not as a visitor, but an inhabitant—to the body as well as to the Earth. Since we are divided from our bodies, we are also divided from the body of the planet, which then appears to separate from us, rather than the living continuum to which we belong. Within the shattered nature of reality, the artist has attempted a sensibility towards storytelling that is mediated by bodies being in the same space. ‘A room filled with people with funny names’ is a state of becoming integrated into the body whose size grows into the gigantic dimensions of the world. Sight reposes on touch. For this global corporal vision, a touch that, by a wondrous transubstantiation, changes the rock face into flesh, unceasingly enchanted, in the absence of language, by tacit music.

The video was mostly shot in Chiang Rai and Udon Thani. In the town of Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, a youth soccer team got trapped in a cave, and their plight became a moment of reframing Thailand and presenting it to the world, as well as back to itself, creating new stories with roles for the helpless, the benevolent, the caregiver and the care-receiver. Spirit mediums, monks, and ghosts of Thailand were there, shoulder-to-shoulder with scientists, the American military, and the international tech-capitalist. In Udon Thani, with the mythical story of the ghosts hiring humans to run an outdoor film screening, the audiences become “possessed” through the movie-watching experience, living and feeling through stories that are not theirs. These stories continue to breathe and live within the consciousness of the audiences.

The work also tries to draw relationships between these people and events through the metaphor of touch. After touching a green light, the light transforms into a story in a dark, opaque place. The green light becomes the green light of the movie screen or the green screen in a movie production. Stories shape and control the form of human association and action. The film narrative encompasses ambiguous boundaries between kids trapped in the cave in Chiang Rai, an ex CIA spying station, the Cold War legacy and an animal behavioral scientist who is Alex Gvojic’s mother. These stories harness a certain kind of power through their invisibility and opaqueness.

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