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Jaruwan Muangkhoa, Channachai Ketsrirat, Prin Tanunchaibutra, Watanya Siriwan, Intanong Chinnawong, John Garzoli and Tiger Dragon Production, Arthit Mulsarn and Udrid Jomyim

The theme of the 2012, Jim Thompson 4th Art on Farm exhibition is “Sutsanaen Dan Isan (Terribly Happy in the Land of Isan)”. The exhibition presents works of art which help to stimulate learning through their aesthetic appeal; representing relationships between artists, community and the general public. The topics of the exhibition focus on tradition, the Isan culture and the way of life of an agriculture society. This year, Jim Thompson Farm is proud to present folk music, Isan cultural performances and a singing contest. Along with the above, the exhibition presents knowledge about Isan music, making the Sutsanaen Art on Farm project a “terribly” happy and fun event as well.

We are introduced to Sutsanaen in the work “Lai Sutsanaen: Khaen” by John Garzoli and Tiger Dragon Production. They have collected recordings of a unique style of playing the khaen (mouth organ) known as “Sutsanaen”. Sounds are produced by vibration of the lips; setting a lively tempo and cheerful rhythm.

The local Isan approach to entertainment includes using equipment generally used for preparing food to make music. Joy is generated when music is produced and enjoyed during periods of eveyday life, including hours when not working as well as time spent making a living. This concept is represented in the work “Sustainable living” by Channachai Ketsrirat. The work “Extreme” by Intanong Chinnawong depicts a rhythmic style of motion made while casting a fishnet made from the weaving bamboo. We can see that local life depends on nature from the activities and the equipment used for making a living. Therefore, practices of worshipping nature that go on throughout the year are bound to be part of the lifesyle. The cultural festival of Phi Khon Nam shown in the work “Wear mask of the water ghost; Make merit for cows and buffaloes” by Jaruwan Muangkhoa highlights an event in which people ask for forgiveness from buffaloes for exploiting them for human consumption. The locals also ask for raiat the same time. In Ban Nasao in Loei province in Isan, the way the ceremony is conducted is determined by the conditions of nature.

In the work “Home”, Prin Tanunchaibutra has collected significant items that are representative of various practices of worship. Apart from the practice of nature worship, the villagers keep faith and believe in paying respect to traditional beliefs which have been passed on from older generations through the mural painting in Isan sim (Buddhist ordination hall). This is represented in the work “Lanna looking at Isan” by Watanya Siriwan. It tells a story in a three dimensional form and brings it to life.

This year, there is also an opening conference to start the Art on Farm project. The academic conference is being organized to help participants become familiar Isan people through entertainment: “Simon bird flies across the field: various perspectives on entertainment culture and the Isan identity in contemporary times.” The discussion will focus on cultural identity, temperament and the lively nature of Isan people, all aspects of their culture and way of life.

The conference examines how Isan people were able to develop and create a unique kind of entertainment which had spread throughout the country.

Description of works of art and artists presented in the exhibition.
The Art on Farm exhibition consists of six different works of art and a conference as follows:

Works of Art

Wear mask of the water ghost

1. Wear mask of the water ghost; Make merit for cows and buffaloes

Medium used: Masks of the water ghost, steel and wood
Venue: parking lot 3, Isan Village

Loei province has many distinctive traditions such as the Phi Ta Khon cultural festival. While the Phi Ta Khon festival is renowned, there is another cultural festival that has similar characteristics, but it is not quite as well known. This is the Phi Khon Nam festival in Ban Nasao, Chiang Khan district, Loei province. The festival forges relationships between villagers and the natural environment where villagers living in the community are dependent on the land. They believe in offering merit for cows and buffaloes that have passed away and in asking for rain to nourish the land. This artwork is inspired by childhood memories of having experienced the impressive Phi Khon Nam festival. The work is a lively representation that mixes nature and Isan culture together. When the audience experiences the Phi Khon Nam tradition through this work, they will feel the warmth of home as if they were back in Isan.

Artist’s Biography
Jaruwan Muangkhoa was born in Loei province in 1990. She is currently studying at the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, Khon Kaen University and her interest is in traditional beliefs surrounding Isan culture.

Sustainable living

2. Sustainable living
Installation Art

Medium used: steel and silk fringe
Venue: Isan Village

"Sai”, a bamboo fish trap, is a basket made of woven bamboo using traditional techniques. Isan people use bamboo fish traps to earn a living. This object represents the the simple way of life of the rural people.

Artist’s Biography
Channachai Ketsrirat was born in Sisaket province in 1981. He graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Printing, Faculty of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Art, Silpakorn University. Currently, he lives in Bangkok and is a business owner.


3. Home

Medium used: cocoon, threshing silk, thread ball, silk, bamboo and straw
Venue: entrance and Jim Thompson market

To create this sculpture the artist has made use of local materials such as cocoons, threshing silk, thread balls, silk, bamboo and straw. The piece is inspired by the form and shape of Isan’s tung (ceremonial flags) which are commonly used for various religious and cultural ceremonies such as Bun koon-larn, Bun kharw-jee and Bun pra-wead. The sculpture represents a way of life of Isan people and their relationship with rice and silk. This is exemplified at the time of post-harvest when Isan people begin to grow silk and produce fabrics to use during various cultural and religious events according to the local Isan tradition.

Artist’s Biography
Prin Tanunchaibutra was born in 1967. He graduated with a Bachelor Degree from the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, Chulalongkorn University and graduated with a Master Degree from the Faculty of Education, Khon Kaen University. Currently, he is an assistant professor in Art Education, Faculty of Education, Khon Kaen University.

Lanna looking at Isan

4. Lanna looking at Isan
Installation Art

Medium used: fabric and embroidery
Venue: Sim Isan (Ordiation Hall), situated in the middle of the lake

“Faith” is a powerful force since by having faith, humans accept and believe in the Buddha’s teaching. A work of art as an offering to Lord Buddha has been created because one has faith. The more a creation is made with care and diligence, the more it shows one’s everlasting faith.

“Fabric” is used as an object of expression for women. Women can participate in creating fabric as an offering to the religion. Therefore, I have created a three dimensional work of sculpture by using fabric that has been embroidered as a Buddhist oblation or offering vessel which reflects the faith I have in the religion.

“Lanna looking at Isan” is inspired by the “Sim” (Buddhist ordination hall), traditional Isan architecture and impressive traditional folk art. Traditional Isan art has simple shapes and the style is firm and powerful, although there is also a peaceful character. The art has an authentic quality which is distinctive to Isan identity.

Artist’s Biography
Watanya Siriwan was born Chiang Mai in 1988. She graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Thai Arts, Faculty of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Art, Silpakorn university. She creates works of art from fabric and is interested in traditions of Lanna culture and influence of Buddhism on traditional Lanna art.


5. Extreme

Medium used: interlaced bamboo weave
400 x 400 x 300 cm.
Venue: Isan Village

The work presents the villagers’ way of making a living in a rural area. The rural area watershed has sources of water coming from a creek, swamp, canal, marsh and main river. The manner in which villagers move with rhythm and with freedom while casting a fishnet is the inspiration for the work of art. It reflects an enjoyment that is achieved through physical activity. The work is made by using the local technique of bamboo weaving which results in its unique style.

Artist’s Biography
Intanong Chinnawong was born in Kalasin province in 1989. He graduated with a Bachelor degree in Visual Arts, Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, Mahasarakham University. His primary interest is in rural life. He is an expert in using basketry techniques to create works of art.

Lai Sutsanaen: Khaen

6. Lai Sutsanaen: Khaen
By John Garzoli and Tiger Dragon Production

Video 12 minutes
Venue: entrance, Isan Village and Jim Thompson market

The film will present short performances by traditional Isan ‘khaen’ players who will perform using the iconic ‘Sutsanaen’ melodic pattern. This pattern is the most common form of accompaniment when Mor Lam perform the ‘Lam Glawn’. The film will present senior khaen players who have played this musical instrument for many years. These musician represent the last generation of khaen players who have cultural links to an ancient tradition. The Mor Lam tradition and the role of the khaen in Isan music have undergone many changes over the past 50 years. This film will present musical excerpts which reflect the tradition in its highest form


Artist Biography
John Garzoli is PhD candidate and Prime Ministers Endeavour Scholar at Monash University, Australia. His speciality is music performance and anthropology. He has recently returned to Australia and is researching and teaching at Monash University. He also is an advisor to the Arts Ministry of Victoria.

Warong Boonaree was born in 1981, son of the former head of the Center for Arts and Culture, Ubon Ratchathani University. In 2006, he founded Boon Hugsa is a band that mixes Isan music with fusion jazz. In 2012, Boon Hugsa went on a live tour in France with Limousine, a French band. They played sueng, khaen and the log (zylophone).

Pokpong Khamprasert was born in 1986. He was a first-class honors graduate who studied at the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, Chulalongkorn University. He studied Thai music with his family before he started going to school. His current interest and work is in recording practices of arts and culture. In addition, he was a recipient of the Narissara Nuwatthiwong award in 2011.

Conference activities

Academic paper “Simon bird flies across the field: various perspectives on entertainment culture and the contemporary Isan identity.
It is composed of four topics.
Moderated by Arthit Mulsarn and Udrid Jomyim
Sunday, 18 November 2012
Time: 13:30 - 16:00 hrs.
Venue: William Warren library

  1. Hed Jung Dai: Mor Lam (northeastern-style music) and world music” why Mor Lam is not considered to be world music and if it were, what would happen. By Viriya Sawangchote, professor in Ethnomusicology, Research Institute for Languages and Culture of Asia, Mahidol University.

  2. Indigenous Isan folk music in contemporary times” How does Isan folk music which is gaining in popularity represent the social expression and identity of Isan people. By Amporn Jirattikorn, professor in Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Faculty of Social Studies, Chiang Mai University.

  3. Space of performance, space of life, animated Isan: Space of Isan’s entertainment culture in contemporary times” investigates in the context of migration how the Isan style of performance and entertainment connects with people living in the capital city of Bangkok who are of Isan descent. By Udrid Jomyim, postgraduate student in Master program in Ethnicity and Development, Faculty of Social Science, Chiang Mai University.

  4. Nation and Art: case study of national performing artists of Mor Lam” When art is used as a tool in the building of national identity (National Artists Project), what result does it have on the production of art and places of culture. In addition, the topic of studying how producers of works of art have resisted and/or contributed to create meaning that represents ideas of nationalism will be considered. By Arthit Mulsarn, postgraduate student in Master Program in Culture and Development, Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia, Mahidol University.

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