Exhibition

The Spirits of Maritime Crossing

20 Apr 2024 – 24 Nov 2024

Regular hours

Saturday
10:00 – 18:00
Sunday
10:00 – 18:00
Tuesday
10:00 – 18:00
Wednesday
10:00 – 18:00
Thursday
10:00 – 18:00
Friday
10:00 – 18:00

Free admission

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Palazzo Smith Mangilli Valmarana

Venice
Veneto, Italy

Event map

The Spirits of Maritime Crossing explores cultural flows and moving water as metaphors of unexplored ocean and territories.

About

The Bangkok Art Biennale (BAB) Foundation presents The Spirits of Maritime Crossing, a group exhibition by 15 artists from Southeast Asia examining the themes of displacement, diaspora, and colonialism through the lens of the ocean. Spanning a range of mediums including painting, sculpture, mixed media and video installations and featuring fifteen artists from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand, The Spirits of Maritime Crossing addresses complex realities, diverse cultures and histories of the region, contrasting them with Western narratives in Venice. Highlights include a film directed by Prof. Dr. Apinan Poshyananda, featuring the acclaimed performance artist Marina Abramović and Thai dance artist and choreographer Pichet Klunchun; films such as Calling for Rain by Khvay Samnang; Hunting & Dancing: 15 years by Moe Satt; There’s no Place by Jakkai Siributr; The Sea is a Blue Memory by Priyageetha Dia and many more works across a range of mediums.

The Spirits of Maritime Crossing is a journey from Southeast Asia to Venice through cultural and diasporic experiences—viewed through the eyes of those away from their homeland, both physically and spiritually. Southeast Asian artists share many similarities, while also differing in terms of their ethnicities, religions, and languages, which can sometimes create a sense of foreignness among them. The legacy of these nations is evident in the so-called 'cultural hybrids'—refugees, immigrants, and stateless people.

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Marina Abramović, an icon of the diaspora, travels from Venice to Bangkok. Her spirit encounters Monkey King, played by Pichet Klunchun with priests and talismans. The video tells the story of a wandering spirit traveling in the foreign land connecting Venice and Bangkok. Bangkok as Venice of the East is closely linked with the Italian diaspora. In parallel worlds of Italy and Siam, Chitti Kasemkitvatana and Nakrob Moonmanas create phantasmagorial montages of foreigners and commoners whispering in different tongues.

Colonizers and missionaries brought new faith and left behind painful memories. Jompet Kuswidananto’s twinkling shards evoke broken vessels and shattered dreams in the vast ocean. Across the archipelago, Christianity became enmeshed with locality. Alwin Reamillo weaves cultural currents through found objects and assemblages. Fourteen stations of the Cross peel layers of colonialism and Christian iconography through subjects on migration, New World Disorder and globalization. Natee Utarit infuses Buddhist philosophy with Western art history that convey contradiction and absurdity. East-West encounters depict foreigners everywhere in temples and piazzas. Convoluted time and space take viewers back to the time when serene and exotic life of foreigners searched for abundance and refuge between Venice and Bangkok. For Bounpaul Phothyzan, the remnants during American occupation in Southeast Asia left scars and trauma. Bombshells discarded in rice fields are carved to record victims crippled and killed by mighty foreigners. They are a haunting testament to the memory of violence.

Mythological dancers by Khvay Samnang inspired by Ramayana relate to hegemony and deforestation. Rain dance is intertwined with local worship to nourish harvest and dispel foreign threats from the fire dragon. Yee I-Lann and sea-based communities explore maritime histories to revive ancestral knowledge. She addresses issues of indigenous connections by collaborating with weavers and local communities. Mats stitched with rubbish washed ashore by tidal currents connect Venice and Borneo. Gourds by Truong Cong Tung are analogous to spirits from Vietnam. Drops of water and bubbles symbolize time and decay shared by humanity. These strange objects are reminders of distant land and foreigners across maritime crossings.

Embroideries by Jakkai Siributr evoke the plight of stateless people. Art collaboration with asylum seekers reflects on ethnic cleansing. Stateless asylum seekers are assumed to be strangers and foreigners everywhere they go. And their pursuit of freedom and natural terrain leaves a violent path. Moe Satt uses his body as a space of identity, difference and estrangement. His video performance, inspired by dance and tribal hunting, suggests survival of sectarian violence in his homeland.

Priyageetha Dia’s video of deep sea is about ancestral migratory movements from India to Malay Peninsula. As migrants across the Indian Ocean, her family are foreigners and marginalized. Maritime currents enmesh subaltern culture with diasporic histories. Kawita Vatanajyankur performs in foamy blue dye from textile industry. Her work focuses on female labor in the patriarchal society and the role of water in the context of femininity and textile industry. Female labor, feminism and abuse are parts of being foreign.

Southeast Asian artists from the Global South share many commonalities but also differences in ethnicities, religions, languages that make them foreign among neighbors. The legacy of these nations constituted cultural hybrids among foreigners, refugees, immigrants and stateless people.  The Spirits of Maritime Crossing is a journey from Southeast Asia to Venice with glimpses of allurement and diasporic experiences—and foreigners dispersed from their homeland physically and spiritually.

Exhibiting artistsToggle

Marina Abramović

Marina Abramović

Priyageetha Dia

Khvay Samnang

Pichet Klunchun

Taking part

Venice Biennale

Venice Biennale

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