Shigeaki Iwai (Japan), Kaoru Motomiya (Japan),
Sutthirat Supaparinya (Thailand), Han Myung-Ok (Korea/France),
Alana Jelinek (Australia/UK)
Art Center at the Jim Thompson House
March 31 – June 30, 2005
Interweaving Cultures is a project that involves artists and curators from Japan, Thailand and Europe. It creates a unique opportunity for art professionals from different parts of the world to actively exchange their views and ideas. The results of this collaboration will be presented in the form of an exhibition at the Art Center at the Jim Thompson House in Bangkok from March 31 to June 30, 2005. Five artists have been invited to respond to the cultural, social and historical context of the Jim Thompson House, built by the American silk tycoon in the late 1950s and now open to visitors as a unique museum and tourist attraction. Their objective is to explore, question and supplement the story begun by Jim Thompson and his love for Thailand’s cultural heritage.
The five participating artists are Han Myung-ok (Korea/France), Shigeaki Iwai (Japan), Alana Jelinek (UK/Australia), Kaoru Motomiya (Japan), Sutthirat Supaparinya (Thailand) The project curators are Sachiko Namba (Japan), Gridthiya Gaweewong (Thailand) and Ann Coxon (UK). The artists were invited to stay in Bangkok to conduct research on the Jim Thompson House and those aspects of Thai culture represented by the silk industry. They worked closely with museum staff and local residents. The artists will present new works based on their in-depth, on-site research. Seeing the house as a point of cultural exchange of both old and new, the contemporary artists lend a fresh eye and a new sensitivity to this rich cultural context. Just as Jim Thompson embraced Thai culture as a ‘foreigner’, the artists bring their own particular cultural threads to the weave and create new dialogues.
In response to her invitation to make new work specifically for Interweaving Cultures at the Jim Thompson House, Han Myung-Ok has initiated a ‘name collecting’ project. Believing that ‘food makes the body, but the name makes a memory, a remainder’, her project invites us to reflect upon the legendary name of Jim Thompson and the importance we attach to the names of both ourselves and others. Shigeaki Iwai has created a movie poster for a fictional film. Inspired by the possibilities of the Jim Thompson House as a cultural melting-pot, Iwai used his film poster as a devise to explore the relationship between cultures, in particular Japanese and Thai. The poster was distributed around Bangkok by the artist, who then interviewed and recorded the responses of those who saw it. Alana Jelinek collaborated with members of the Ban Krua community (the silk weaving community whose houses stand opposite the Jim Thompson house). Jelinek asked them to photograph the exteriors of their own houses, so that she could produce a likeness in small paintings on Thai silk, which will be placed in the house for the duration of the exhibition and later given to the participants.
Kaorou Motomiya has produced an installation which reference to Somerset Maugham’s ‘Siamese Tale’, incorporating the eye of the British writer with Thai and Japanese sensibilities. Maugham’s fairytale has never been translated into Thai, so the artist introduced the story to local children, through a series of workshops. Sutthirat Supaparinya’s research into the legend of Jim Thompson shows that she understands the curiosity among Thai people – visitors and friends – about Thompson’s history and his disappearance. As a response to visitors’ curiosity, and in an attempt to communicate with Thompson, she has created a sound installation at the exhibition space which connects aurally to Jim Thompson’s bedroom, in his house.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a full colour catalogue in two languages, Thai and English, to serve as an introduction and documentation of this fascinating project during and after the exhibition period. This project is made possible with the generous support of the following: The James H.W. Thompson Foundation, The Thai Silk Company Limited, The Japan Foundation , The Nomura Cultural Foundation , Alliance Francaise and AZINCOURT Inc.