By Phatarawadee Phataranawik
Two weeks after Thai contemporary art was vibrantly highlighted at Art Stage Singapore, it’s time again for the creatively inclined to prowl the streets of Bangkok by dark and see what’s causing a fuss.
The fifth edition of Galleries Night takes place this weekend with art venues staying open extra late and fantastic ideas on display in the cinemas and street, aboard a river ferry and even in tuk-tuks.
The Liv_id collective will install TV sets carrying loop feeds of video art in the participating tuk-tuks. Photo courtesy of French Embassy
Inspired by Paris’ dusk-to-dawn Nuits Blanche and held in Bangkok since 2013 – the French Embassy has kept the ball rolling – Galleries Night this year sees more than 60 venues participating, up from 47 in 2017.
Growing interest over the past six years reflects the blossoming of Bangkok’s remarkably cross-disciplinary arts scene.
“The galleries and other partners formed a sharing foundation in Bangkok and Chiang Mai,” says French Ambassador Gilles Garachon, who sees Bangkok as being much like Paris with its “many artists and active galleries”.
Cultural Attache Vanessa Silvy notes that the 2018 roster features 25 “special events” and 15 exhibition openings. She expects attendance to soar past last year’s 8,000 visitors.
The weekend kicks off on Friday at 5pm at 32 galleries along the Silom and Sathorn Skytrain lines and the riverside. Many of the venues have waited for this date to open new shows, while others are hosting one-night special events.
Along Sathorn Road, Bangkok CityCity Gallery, YenakArt Villa, Sathorn 11 Art Space and Space @ Woof Pack Bangkok are involved. On Silom, it’s the Bangkok Screening Room, an alternative cinema charging no admission that night, and the Kathmandu Gallery.
N22 on Narathiwat Rachanakharin Road Soi 22, which has eight galleries and studios, will be bustling with activity.
Sophirat Muangkum’s “The Secret of Skin” opens on Friday night at Most Gallery. Photo courtesy of French Embassy
The “Ferry Gallery” will leave Sathorn, Sri Phraya, or The Oriental piers for a ride across the Chao Phraya River, during which video art will be displayed. On the Thonburi side, the “Creative District” strings together several more venues, such as the Jam Factory, Most Gallery and New Territory.
Saturday night will have 23 galleries along the BTS Sukumvit line in the mix.
The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre will on its own have dozens of exhibitions to choose among. There, at 1pm, French photographer Roland Neveu will talk about his career since the 1970s.
The Jim Thomson Art Centre will have guided tours of its exhibition “POLA – Patterns of Meaning”, led by Arham Rahman, a Yokjakarta-based researcher.
Nearby and newly opened is Yeo House, which will present music, video art and live performances starting at 5.30pm. These include “Photosynthesis” by Fullfat Theatre, directed by Nophand Boonyai.
Alliance France will host the photography exhibition “Family Portrait” by Frenchman Bruno Tanquerel and screen short films about the family. Photos courtesy of French Embassy
Alliance France will screen short films about perceptions of the family, free from 7 to 9pm.
The Subhashok Arts Centre opens three different exhibitions on Saturday night, and Thong Lor Art Space, Case Space and Gallery 23 will have live performances.
The grand tour ends at the WTF Gallery with live music, “happening art” and lots of beer.
The embassy has chartered 30 tuk-tuks to shuttle folks along the designated routes. Vans were used two years ago, but Silvy reckons the humble tuk-tuk is more representative of the city and “fits in perfectly with Galleries Nights’ conviviality”.
“This year it won’t be just a way to move around, but another opportunity to discover art. Every tuk-tuk will be transformed into a mobile art space.”
The Liv_id collective will install TV sets carrying loop feeds of video art in the participating tuktuks. Photo courtesy of French Embassy
What people will watch on TV screens while riding the tuk-tuks is “Keepsake” – “a mobile video art experience” by the Liv_id Collective. They’ll see short video-art pieces made by five Thai and five foreign artists, looping every 35 minutes.
If you can’t catch one of the tuk-tuks, you can still download the Galleries’ Night phone app developed for the embassy by Pim Click (Apple Store or Google Play). The phone application is more interactive than ever, with games to play for prizes, maps and recommended itineraries.
The participating galleries will have guides waiting to conduct tours of the shows, an idea that proved a big success when it was introduced last year. More volunteers have been recruited for the task this year.
“Last year we had about 60 volunteers – all art students or lovers of art – ready to share their knowledge,” says gallery co-ordinator Mary Pansanga. “This year we have more than 90. Interestingly, after the event last time, some of them got jobs at the galleries.”
The French Embassy plans to keep the event going and possibly incorporate other art events here.
The video installation “aniMale farm_robotic debt” will appear for one night only – on Friday – at New Territory. Photo courtesy of French Embass
“Having pioneered this kind of unifying event in Bangkok, the embassy wishes to strengthen public interest in contemporary art,” says Silvy. “Galleries Night is part of a long-term vision. We wish with the artists and the galleries to raise the local art market to the international level.
“There are other events that build enthusiasm for contemporary art with similar concepts, like the Hotel Art Fair and Gallery Hopping,” she notes.
“Next year’s Galleries Night will be even more special,” adds Garachon, “because we’ll be fitting in with the inaugural Bangkok Art Biennale, which Prof Apinan Poshyananda will open in October and which continues though February.
“It’s the right time to give Thai art international recognition, because it’s so diverse and creative. Thailand is perfectly placed to become the art hub of the whole region.”
A map will show where everything is, what’s happening and at what time. Photo courtesy of French Embassy
BE HOME BY DAWN
- More than 60 venues are participating in Galleries Night this Friday and Saturday.
- Grab a printed map at your first stop.
- TV-equipped tuk-tuks parked near BTS Taksin Station will on Friday be giving patrons free rides among the venues on Silom, Sathorn and the riverside. On Saturday tuk-tuks parked in front of BACC will offer rides on Sukhumvit Road.
- Find out more on the “galleriesnight” Facebook page. The official hashtag for sharing pictures or videos online is #GN18.
At Jam Factory, you can create your own prints and put them on the wall. Photo courtesy of French Embassy