A Thai artist’s work plays with reordering and redistributing the familiar, and explores the exchanges between spaces and people.
Having graduated from graphic arts at Silpakorn University, Bangkok and École Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Arin Rungjang has continued to develop a conceptual approach in his art practice. His works cover different media, mainly video and site-specific installation, yet his interest has always been in the exploration of daily life issues and experience, such as memory, living space, history of family and individuals, and migration. Starting his career in the late 1990s, Rungjang is one of the cofounders of an independent art initiative in Bangkok called As Yet Unnamed, an alternative platform which aims to hold exhibitions, discussions and other events on contemporary art.
Rungjang’s works have been featured in several international events and venues such as the Guangzhou Triennale (2008), Taipei Artist Village, Taiwan (2010), and Singapore Biennale (2011). In his practice, ready-made and daily household objects often serve as materials that represent particular biographies. One of his major works, which has been ongoing since 2006, is called Replaced, Collected, Installed Neon Project. In this project, he collects neon light tubes from well-known galleries, signs, exchanges and reinstalls them discretely in different spatial contexts. The light tubes deal with an abstract idea of the illumination, which in the context of an art space could make any objects become visible and known as ‘art’ to the public.
His installation, My knees are cold because it is winter in Paris (2010) took shape in an irregular sculptural form constructed from used furniture collected from migrant workers during his residency in Paris. Rungjang wove the ideas for this work from a story about his father, an interview with curator Pierre Luigi Tazzi and his own understanding about European history. The work reveals an intricate relationship between small narratives, philosophy and colonialism.
Rungjang’s works often explore the border between the private and public spheres, between domestic and institutional life, and the exchanges between them. His recent work for the Singapore Biennale, Unequal Exchange / No Exchange Can be Equal (2011), for instance, is an intimate space at the Old Kallang Airport where the Thai community living in Singapore can swap and exchange their domestic goods. Hence, the work will only take shape in the constant movement of people, exchanges of possessions and unpredictable relations coming from the situation in situ.