• Ideas
  • Oct 29, 2018

Bangkok Art Biennale 2018: “Beyond Bliss”

ELMGREEN & DRAGSET’s Zero (2018), a swimming-pool-shaped, Zen symbol of nothingness, and a portal from the Chao Phraya River to the Nordic seas. All photos by HG Masters for ArtAsiaPacific.

Why launch a new biennial, in Asia, in Southeast Asia, in 2018? In the last 18 months, curator and art historian Apinan Poshyananda, the artistic director of the inaugural Bangkok Art Biennale (BAB), has fielded questions from domestic and international colleagues on exactly this subject—and he has answers. First of all, he said at the press conference on October 16 at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC, an institution he established in 2005 and which opened in 2008), “Bangkok has been waiting for a long time.” Belatedness is no longer a reason not to launch a new initiative. Furthermore, as the current director of the BACC Pawit Mahasarinand made clear in his welcome speech, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has slashed its funding for the BACC, and many people in the art scene believe the government wants to sell off the building’s prime real estate to transform it into another high-end shopping mall like those adjacent to the Pathum Wan Junction. In the face of that possibility, the dance and theater critic Pawit protested, “Art is important—and we need art in this city.”