24 September 2016

Allergic Realities

Allergic Realities
Thammasat Hanging
Horror in Pink I
This Is the Buddhism Country
Death of Book
History Class
Holiday in Cambodia
Neal Ulevich
An exhibition of new works by Kosit Juntaratip opened last weekend in Bangkok. Allergic Realities features eighteen paintings of iconic news photographs, replicating the grainy printing process traditionally used by newspapers. Kosit has used his own blood to paint the halftone dots.

One of the paintings (Thammasat Hanging) is based on the notorious Neal Ulevich photograph of a public lynching following the 1976 Thammasat University protest. The photo was also appropriated by Manit Sriwanichpoom for Horror In Pink (ปีศาจสีชมพู), featuring Manit's trademark 'Pink Man' as an incongruous spectator. Vasan Sitthiket's Blue October (ตุลาลัย) series included a version of the photograph painted in mournful blue, with gold leaf to honour the hanged man, and the sarcastic title This Is the Buddhism Country (นี่แหละหนอเมืองพระพุทธศาสนา). The two central figures appear in silhouette in Sitthiphorn Anthawonksa's Death of Book (ศพหนังสือ), shown at the Art for Freedom (ศิลปะเพื่อเสรีภาพ) exhibition at the Pridi Banomyong Institute in 2013. Sutee Kunavichayanont carved it into a wooden desk for his History Class (ห้องเรียนประวัติศาสตร์) installation. The image even featured on the cover of Holiday in Cambodia, a single by the Dead Kennedys (ironically, given the song's title).

Another Thai artist, Pornprasert Yamazaki, has also painted with blood; his work was shown at the Swallow, Currency Crisis, and Suicide Mind exhibitions. Manit Sriwanichpoom soaked autopsy photographs in blood for Died On 6th October 1976. UDD protesters painted a banner in blood at Democracy Monument, and Kristian von Hornsleth collected Thai blood samples for his Deep Storage Art Project.

Kosit previously painted with blood during performances in the 1990s (as documented in Thailand Eye), and he has also used other bodily fluids as a medium: his painting Copulate With Love (at MAIIAM) is labelled "Ejaculation on canvas (Kosit's spermatozoa)". Allergic Realities opened at Bangkok University Gallery on 17th September, and runs until 30th October.