"Encounter with Strangers": An exhibition of Quebec Artists in Residence at BACC
Camille Bernard-Gravel, Catherine Bélanger, Cynthia Dinan-Mitchell, Giorgia Volpe, Marc-André Jésus, Marie-Claude Gendron, Patrick Altman, Renaud Philippe
Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
Background of the exhibition
The artist exchange project between Thailand and Quebec, Canada organised by Le Lieu Art Centre in Quebec City and Concrete House Bangkok–Nontaburi began in 1997 when Le Lieu Art Centre invited a Thai artist, Chumphol Apisuk and four others from Asia to perform in the International Live Performance Art Festival. Since then, many Thai artists such as Wasan Sitthikhet, Paisarn Plianbangchang and Jittima Pholsawek have been invited to show their works by Le Lieu Art Centre in Quebec. In the case of Chumphol Apisuk, he later became one of the international editors of INTER magazine, an international live performance magazine. This allows articles about live performances in South East Asia, including Thailand, to be published constantly.
Likewise, Baan Tuek Art Centre and Community has been holding Asiatopia International Performance Art Festival on an annual basis since 1998 and has invited artists from Quebec to perform at the event. Richard Martel, the Director of Le Lieu Art Centre and editor of INTER magazine has participated in the festival many times. He has also held live performance art workshops at Baan Tuek Centre on two occasions. In addition to Martel, various artists from Quebec were also invited to perform in Thailand.
The idea of an exchange of artists between Quebec and Bangkok has been raised before. And at one time Le Lieu Art Centre held exchanges between their artists and international artists from various countries including Brazil, Mexico and Poland. In the case of Asia, Taiwanese artists were exchanged continuously so they could soon see the possibilities of doing the same with Bangkok.
Quebec City was the first place in North America where Europeans came and settled in the early 17th century. Calling the city Quebec after the locals showed the harmonious relationship with the local tribes in the new land of the white settlers. Bangkok, situated at an estuary of the Chao Phraya River, was the first settlement of Chinese, Lao and Mon immigrants. For 400 years, Bangkok or Bangkok Metropolis was constructed and developed by these immigrant cultures.
These two cities on opposite sides of the world grew in a similar manner. We can see this from the development of dialects. Bangkokians have developed their own accent which is markedly different from the old Thai dialect which was used around the neighboring areas of Bangkok. It is similar to when the old French first moved to Quebec, they still used the French language called Quebeca. It is the only land in North America where people still use their unique strain of French while being surrounding by English-speaking countries. The nature of urban culture creates alienation. One way is temporary residence for most immigrants. Another is settlement for stability and a fusion that creates uniqueness and gradually transforms alienation into identity. It’s the feeling when you see a stranger every time you look at yourself in the mirror.
The artists exchange project between Bangkok and Quebec is a two-way exchange. In 2015, artists from Quebec come to stay and create their work in Bangkok for two weeks and in 2016 Thai artists will do the same in Quebec. It is a good opportunity for Thai artists to create new works in a new space where the ways of life, weather and culture are a refreshing mixture of North American and European influences. The same goes for Quebec artists, though they have studied how Bangkok lives, it will be different when they are here. It is the encounters between strangers and one of Asia’s metropolises where confusion, chaos, humidity, noisiness of people and vehicles fills the city streets. Yet under this tumult lies the silence which many communities in Bangkok have been looking for and hoping to see.
To reflect the work of artists from one city in the new circumstances of another city can be called ‘Encounter Circumstance’. The challenge is that artists have to prepare the senses under their skins for their encounter with new and unfamiliar circumstances. That is how ‘Encounter Circumstance’ is best explained. Audiences will see images of Bangkok through the eyes of strangers who reflect different visions and ideas. It also provokes Bangkokians to think about their city, its well-being and their identity as residents.
Event Date: 26 September - 25 October 2015
Location: Studio, 4th floor
Bangkok Art and Culture Centre in collaboration with the Quebec Artists Network, has initiated an artist exchange project between Bangkok, Thailand and Quebec, Canada in order to foster a close relationship between the two cities in terms of art and culture. The project will begin in 2015 and conclude in 2016.
“Encounter with Strangers", an exhibition of Quebec Artists in Residence at BACC will present works by a group of selected Quebec artists from different disciplines and backgrounds. These artists will travel to Bangkok to participate in the two week Artist-in-residence program in September 2015. During their residency in Bangkok, they will get to “encounter” strange conditions in an Asian metropolitan. Their experiences with these situations will be displayed and re-imagined through their works which will form this exhibition.
My projects are inspired by simple natural phenomena that we see in our daily lives. I am interested in the cohabitation of natural and urban elements in the same artwork, which brings one’s spirit to a new reality. Through my videos, sounds and installation projects, I re-create non-material natural phenomena. In order to achieve this I use common objects and construction materials to represent phenomena such as rain, wind, water reflection, natural sounds, etc. By coming in contact with my work, the viewer will experience precious moments of astonishment, which will hopefully bring them to some kind of epiphany.
I devote myself to the recording, the conservation and the transmutation of culinary actions. I wish to index these actions before they disappear, and to crystallize the importance of the ways of doing of ordinary people who go unnoticed in our society, but who are its very foundations. My interest and my responsibility are to underline traditions and rituals of the daily life, from the past and the present, to unravel their value.
I grew up in a very multicultural place, influenced by the English and French speaking worlds. My works are very much around the notion of the meeting of two cultures, two aesthetics. For this exhibition, I will create traditional Canadian clothing with Thai fabric. Inversely, I will make traditional Thai clothing with typical Canadian fabric. Thai fabric has a beautiful pattern, very delicate and ornamental which is a huge contrast with the fabric from Canada which is very thick and mostly made out of wool because it is very cool. I think there is a nice parallel and the contrast is very interesting.
My artistic practices are nourished by actions and objects that come from the domestic world and from daily life. I study the relationship between the body and its environment by exploring transition areas, notably between the inside and the outside, the individual and the collective, the intimate and the public, the real and the imaginary. Two parallel and complementary components characterize my artistic research. One is the social component, which consists of occasional and ephemeral interventions within diverse communities, and is more concerned with the collective memory. The other is a more intimate component, which emphasises sensorial and affective memory through photographs, videos and installations.
My work will document, in images, my intimate In situ approach, which will explore the limits of gender identity in a city known for its open-mindedness towards sexual diversity. Bangkok remains a privileged destination for outsiders who are imprisoned in the wrong gender and misunderstood by society. The project aims to demystify social prejudices of the transgender and other gay communities in Bangkok. Finally, over the course of the series, I will be confronting my own non-conformist, westernised gender, in the context of Southwest Asian reality. Together, the personal nature of my project and the hyper-realistic aspects of photography will enable me to create striking, long-lasting images.
My work is called “Act of Immobility”. It is a live performance in a public space. There are kinds of ways to be, a conservative way to be when you are in public. I want to see that if we do an action that is not normal, what would happen? I am interested in what it is to be and what is the strangest thing that you don’t do in a public space. My theme is "endurance in a confinement situation". I will sit still, immobile for hours with a video camera to capture my image in a symbolic place where the security is very heavy. Somewhere where you can’t usually do anything that is not normal. This performance will be unpredictable because I don’t know how the people will react and what will happen. I want my work to display the relationship between the body and the urban landscape as well as the relationship between the individual and society.
For this exhibition, I will present a photographic installation based on the idea of landscape and landscape loss due to environmental effects. From my photographic archives, the installation will include a set from 400 to 500 small photographs. The photos when seen overall will combine to create an abstract work.
Renaud Philippe I’m more like a photojournalist. I like to tell stories. I love Asia and try to focus my work on Asia. I don’t know why but I feel alive when I’m here. There are lives everywhere. I can feel them very strongly, so many people, always something going on around you. I want to do something strong, a great photo project. But I don’t have many expectations. Expectations and realities are never the same thing. I come here relaxed, no expectation but I know what I want to do. When I was in Quebec, I learned that Bangkok is sinking and that’s my subject. I’m working on the fact that everything has a hand, human being, city, everything. And nature is stronger than everything we are building. We often forget this but human beings are just a little part of life on earth and the whole world.
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