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ART ON FARM 2013 - Understanding the Meaning of Isan Textiles "On Son Lai, Laai Pha Isan"

December 14, 2013 - January 12, 2014
At Jim Thompson Farm Pak Thongchai, Nakorn Ratchasima


Background

In addition to its dedication to preserving the unique culture of the Lao-Thai descendants living in Thailand’s northeast Isan area, Jim Thompson Farm aims to introduce this unique culture to other Thais and the foreigners by raising awareness about ancient and worth-preserving traditions.

In 1988, Jim Thompson Farm was established on over a 600-rai area of land at the foot of Phaya Prap Hill in Tambon Takob. The Farm is located about twenty-five kilometers from Pak Thongchai District, Nakorn Ratchasima Province where the Jim Thompson Thai Silk weaving factory is located. The farm not only grows mulberry trees whose leaves are used to feed the silkworm larva, but also sells silkworm eggs to the silk-raising cooperative community. The farm then buys the cocoons from its members to produce silk yarn. Since 2001, the farm has become an agro-tourist attraction and is open annually to the public in December. Visitors are enchanted by the farm’s natural and scenic beauty. Here they can gain knowledge about the life cycle of silkworm and enjoy viewing numerous varieties of colorful flowers and vegetables as well as shopping for flowering plants and organic agricultural products.

In 2007 the Isan Village was created at the Jim Thompson Farm. Built on an area of over 10 rai, this village features original Isan-style houses that were reassembled onsite. The structures represent different types of Isan architecture: Korat style, Phu Thai style and Roen Yao style. In 2008, the Korat Village was added to the complex, helping to vividly define the Isan architecture. Visitors are welcome to wander through the Isan Village where they will have a chance to appreciate this treasure trove of rustic structures that help illustrate the traditional Isan way of life and its customs, recreation, cuisine and livelihood.

In 2009 the Jim Thompson Art Center in conjunction with Jim Thompson Farm launched the Art on Farm Project. A group of artists were invited to create and exhibit their works at the Jim Thompson Farm. They were encouraged to use eco-agricultural concepts and the Isan architecture as an inspiration. This project gave them the opportunity to create works that incorporated influences from Isan art, environment, silkworm rearing, agriculture and architecture. This annual project aims to create a connection between art, life and nature. The artists are encouraged to work in natural surroundings and use local or recycled materials. The works created by the artists are displayed at designated spots at the Jim Thompson Farm as part of the tourist trail created for the annual December visits.

Being involved with the Art on the Farm projects gives artists the opportunity and stimulation to choose various alternatives to create their works which will be exhibited on the farm. This project allows artists to explore a new realm of art – opting for more environmentally-friendly materials, experimenting with unprecedented artistic concepts and extending their existing knowledge. This helps enhance their creativity and polish their techniques which can be used for future references. While appreciating the works and taking pictures, visitors can unleash their imagination to understand the artist’s messages that these uniquely crafted works of art are intended to convey. Visitors can participate in art workshops conducted by the artists themselves and other thought-provoking and creativity-raising activities to promote lifelong learning.

Objectives

  1. To encourage research and extend existing knowledge and to establish a new body of creative art that involves a community.
  2. To transform the research findings into tangible art forms and present them to the public.
  3. To promote artistic learning and extend knowledge about artists, community and other circles.

Expected results

  1. Artists and community exchange knowledge and culture.
  2. Artists exhibit their works on the Farm.
  3. Visitors enjoy and learn about art.


Over the past years most of the artworks created for Art on Farm works have been inspired by nature and Isan culture in general. This year’s theme focuses on Isan textiles, one of the most treasured aspects of Isan culture. As a result, our theme for this year is Understanding the Meaning of Isan Textiles. The local textiles provide insight into Isan beliefs, history and way of life. Even though the weaving techniques, patterns and uses have changed with time, such beliefs, history and way of life have been passed on from one generation to another.

At the beginning of the year 2013 the Farm Tour team surveyed various communities in the northeast where cloth is woven. In addition to noting the fabulous cloth produced by these people, their way of life and changes in their communities were also observed.

Applicants will create artworks which show, in some manner, the indigenous knowledge of Isan culture, cloth design, weaving techniques, silkworm rearing, beliefs and/or intangible cultural values. The artist’s presentations will be left to the creative ideas of the applicants, but the theme and subject should blend and be appropriate to the context of the Farm.

 

Participating artists in Art on Farm 2013

 
1. Aksorn + Pongtarin Studio : Aksorn Rukpong and Pongtarin Bejrachandra
Weaving Sala (Weaving Pavilion)
Site specific
Steel and acrylics

The sala, a tradition open-sided pavilion is a place where people meet and gather. Within this exceptional sala made of colored acrylic panels, the beauty of light and shadow weave through each other and reflect on different surfaces. Both light and shade change all day long thus altering dimensions according to the time of day and the brightness of the natural light. The structure and patterns of the acrylic panels are derived from the concepts of textile weaving and the colors that appear in the warp and weft. The artists, inspired by the subtle hues of Isan textile, have interpreted their patterns and structures using acrylics and natural light.

Aksorn+Pongtarin Studio a bangkok-based interdisciplinary design studio / painting studio, was set up in 2009 by Aksorn Rukpong and Pongtarin Bejrachandra. 

Aksorn Rukpong works as an interior designer and painter. Most of her paintings show her fascination with the phenomenal qualities of light, emotions and narratives associated with architecture and, in particular, interior design. Pongtarin Bejrachandra works as an architect, artist and composer. His work investigates abstractions of two-dimensional drawing and three-dimensional construction that are created by hand, manipulated, synthesised and deconstructed through the normal methods of architectural design. Aksorn and Pongtarin have exhibited their works together in London, Brighton, Lewes, Birmingham and Northampton, UK. In addition, Aksorn Rukpong and Pongtarin Bejrachandra are currently part-time instructors and full-time instructors, respectively, at the Department of Architecture, School of Architecture, Bangkok University, Bangkok, Thailand. 

 

 
2. Jiro Endo
Hammock 500
Site specific
Pa Khao Ma textile and cocoon’s fluff

My site is located on the small bank of an agricultural canal at the edge of the Jim Thompson Farm. The landscape was man-made by using soil, trees and water, but barbed-wire entanglements are also attached to concrete pillars for the security of the farm. The trees are planted in linear spans along the bank.

The bank provides an ideal view looking towards a vast meadow where there is extensive sunshade and cool winds. Traditionally, in animistic beliefs we celebrate trees, believing that they represent spirits or gods. Customarily, certain large, old trees are honored as being auspicious. However, all trees are unique and have their individual characteristics, even if they are from the same species. Variations depend on a specific landscape and the climate, which shows the beauty of the world’s diversity. 

The creation of a textile is a technique that transforms a natural resource into threads that are spun into yarns to be woven into the artificial format of a grid of cloth. This product is used and freely sold everywhere, apart from the place where it originates, thus it becomes what we call “goods”. 

Jiro Endo was born in Tokyo 1966. He works as an architect, festival designer, lighting designer, scenographer, artist and lecturer at SOA+D KMUTT. 

 

 
3. Krit Ngamsom
Mangpo Lor Kluen (Dragonfly wave)
150 x 600 x 250 cm.
Steel and silk

The dragonfly is an insect that is not harmful to humans, and in nature it is quite useful for biological control. As dragonflies will disappear when water dries up or becomes polluted, the insect serves as an indicator to the well being of the natural environment. Its shape and body are colorful and magnificent. The double wings of the dragonfly aid it to fly against strong winds. One species of the insect is the red dragonfly that flies over rice fields to find food. As the wind blows through the paddy fields the color of green stalks of rice is juxtaposed to the red of dragonflies. This movement inspires him to create a moving sculpture for the Jim Thompson Farm. The windmill enables the dragonfly-like wings that are made of silk to move. It is as if real dragonflies are flying over the paddy fields of the Jim Thompson Farm.

Krit Ngamsom is a contemporary artist. His artistic creations relate to his childhood memories and are combined with a sense of humor. He selects materials from the surroundings and use mechanism to move the artworks to appear like 3D mixed media, interactive and moving sculpture. His style of artwork normally invites viewers to interact. Krit often interprets and creates works with different degrees of feeling – mocking, teasing and amusing. Krit was chosen as a young generation artist under the project entitled “Brand New 2008” and he participated in different events such as Bangkok Banana, Imagine Peace, Bangkok 226 and Traces of Siamese Smile. On the international level he joined several exhibitions, for example, “Nuova (Arte) Povera”at Osage Gallery Hong Kong, “Thai Transience” at Singapore Art Museum and Singapore Biennale 2013. He graduated in BFA (Visual Arts) from Bangkok University and MFA (Visual Arts) from KMITL(King Mongkut’s Institue of Technology Ladkrabang). At present he is a lecturer in Fine Arts Department, Faculty of Architecture, KMITL and works as an artist as well. 

 

 
4. Eiji Sumi
Cocoon
450 x 800 cm.
Steel bamboo and cocoon’s fluff

Everyone wears clothing and uses textiles on a daily basis, yet we rarely think of where and how textiles are made. Traditionally Thais have worked hard to produce silk through a long process that begins by obtaining threads from the cocoon of the silkworm. They unwind thread from the silkworm cocoon and then dye, spin and weave the silk into a textile. The process is a long and complicated, involving numerous steps and great craftsmanship. By making a giant Cocoon, Sumi wants to express the feelings and sensations that human beings would have, if they were smaller than silkworms. Sumi wants people to appreciate the things that we have in our life that we do not usually think of or imagine where they come from.

Sumi was born in Tokyo in 1970. After graduating from Rikkyo University, also known as St Paul’s University, with a degree in Industrial Relations, Sumi moved to New York in 1994 where he pursued his career in art and design. He studied painting at The Art Student League of New York, and worked as artist assistant for Stefano Castronovo, Italian master painter who painted Andy Warhol’s Iconic Leather Jacket of Andy Warhol and Jean Michel Basquiat. He also gave lectures at Parsons The New School for Design. During his time in New York, he gained attention for projects ranging from mixed-media and light installations to painting and drawing. Sumi has been commissioned by clients including Duncan Quinn, Nike, Asahi, and The Maritime Hotel. He has held numerous exhibitions, and has been curated by Eric Shiner, the current director of the Andy Warhol Museum, and Helen Wu, the producer and co-curator of the Paper Rain Parade recently seen in Art Basel Hong Kong. 

Sumi moved to Bangkok in 2012, and is a lecturer in Chulalongkorn University’s International Communication Design Program (CommDe), part of the university’s Faculty of Architecture. Sumi has held exhibitions in NewYork, Tokyo, Osaka, Hong Kong, Toronto and Bangkok at places such as Onishi Gallery New York, Salomon Arts Gallery New York, Invisible Dog Art Center, Nuit Branche/Bring to Light Festival New York, Art Complex Center of Tokyo, Koi Art Gallery Bangkok, WTF Gallery Bangkok and more. 

 

 
5. Pramote Sangsorn
ISAN into the Mars
Site specific
Clothes and Video

What would happen if only silk textiles from earth could be used to make space suits to wear and use while living on Mars? You are invited to explore thoughts of Isan people on traditional textiles and patterns from the past to the present, and then to look forward to the future. Here traditional textiles from Isan have been used to create spacesuits to be worn in everyday life. Imagine that a group of Isan people is selected to live on Mars, and that this northeastern region is the location to be used to prepare for living in the environment of the planet Mars. Isan people and their traditional textile would be the only hope for humanity. The population collaboratively creates the spacesuit, and tests the potential utilization of an air tank, vacuum packed papaya salad (somtam), and vacuum packed sticky rice. In addition, the example of agriculture in the area would serve as an inspiration for rice farming on Mars. We would certainly make offerings before sending off a space shuttle, or chant before taking a shower or sleeping. This artwork is intended to highlight traditional Isan beliefs and identity and challenge the ideas of the viewers.

Pramote Sangsorn had been acting since he was 16 years old. From 2003 to 2006 he changed from acting to begin a career in cinematography by making short films, music videos and advertisements. At present he has created eight short films and his third, entitled “TSU,” was a part of Tsunami short films project. His work was selected to be screened at various international film festivals. His first feature film was granted the Script Development award from Pusan International Film Festival, Korea and he also received a grant from the Ministry of Culture for category “Independent Film.” Additionally, he obtained support from The 22nd Cinefoundation Residence, which is part of the Cannes International Film Festival, so that he could stay in Paris, France, while working on a new artistic creation. 

 

 
6. KWON YONG JU
Billboard & Video
1,000 x 1,500 cm.
Wood textile and video

Recycling an abandoned and empty wooden scaffolding frame that he found locally, he tried to build an outdoor billboard. Such a wooden scaffolding serves as a trace of the materials used for modern industrialization, and their "abandonment" tells us how fast the paradigm of material transformation shifts in peripheral locations in countries like Korea and Thailand. However, He does not only see this as a phenomenal index. Rather he views this as a contact point between the two locations where he was from and the local Thai farm.

A more detailed story connecting the Thai psycho-political landscape and that of Seoul will be in the video piece that he has created. The video intertwines two story lines: one of local farmers in the factory and the other of his personal memories related to his mother who was a worker in a textile factory in Korea for 20 years from the 1980s to 2000. In the 1970s, the textile industry was hailed as a major source of profit for Korea's modern labor-intensive, export-oriented industrialized economy, yet was abandoned and replaced by the IT industry in the 1990s. In structuring the video narrative, he used a number of factory buildings that he found interesting and that triggered his memories and recollections between two locations, Korea and Thailand.  

Born in 1977, Kwon Yong Ju lives and works in Seoul, Korea. He is interested in imagining and concretizing the form of people's affections. He believes that we are living surprisingly similar lives although based on totally different histories. This theme has served as the context presented in his solo exhibitions: Waterfall-Structure of Survival (Seoul Art Space Mullae, 2011) and Buoy Light (Insa Art Space, 2010). 

 

 
7. LEE WAN
Made in Thailand
Site specific
Textile and wood

Made in Thailand focuses on the concept of the flag and addresses various beliefs that local contemporary Thai workers may have in sustaining their way of living and working. It is a collaborative effort produced with the Jim Thompson factory workers, whose personal narratives are recorded in interviews and then decoded, designed and fabricated by the artist Lee Wan to create the final three editions of silk "story" flags. All three flags will include the sayings and words of "belief" using different narrative backgrounds.

Lee Wan was born in 1979. He received a BFA in Sculpture from Dongguk University of Seoul in 2004. Since then Wan Lee has continued to produce numerous works and undertake many projects. He is interested in how social systems work in terms of labor, economics, customs, traditions and industry. He shows the internal structure of social systems in a variety of ways. 

 

For more information please contact The Jim Thompson Art Center.
Tel: 02 612 6741
Mobile: 0801 406 3383
Fax: 02 219 2911
Email: pr_artcenter@jimthompsonhouse.com