Self-Organized & Pedagogic Art Projects pt.2 Bangkok
20th Aug. 2015 I arrived in Bangkok to continue work on self-organized & educational art spaces. With travel support from UKS, The Young Artists Society of Norway, I first and foremost aim to map out the local art scene through visiting galleries, art institutions and other cultural platforms. I am trying to find out if its possible to initiate a self organized residency/pedagogical space of my own here. Could this be a place for importing and exporting ideas? Would there be space for multi-disciplinary encounters and challenges? How to engage an audience in a country where monarchy and Buddhism seems to be so omni present?
The plan is to observe what is already here, and to collect information of possible collaborators: friendly partners for discourses. I aim to find out what is brewing in this artistic community, why it seems so hard to enter as an outsider, what the level and quality is of the exhibitions and theory? I will write about the spaces as I go. These reflections will necessarily stay on the surface due to limited resources and publications about the local art scene. It seems that the conceptual/contemporary art scene here is still relatively young: its roots have started set, but maybe the form and identity of contemporary Thai art still has to show itself.
On the first day, I visited the SIAM Society and BACC, two of the more prominent institutes in Bangkok, but they represent an entirely different part of cultural life in the city. The SIAM Society was founded under Royal patronage in 1904. Its holds a museum, a library, a bookshop, conference spaces for meetings and lectures. The library is free for all to visit, but you have to pay a fee for using computers. The collection focuses on the history, natural and cultural heritages of South-East Asia. Most lectures seems to be focused on anthropology, archaeology and history of sites, buildings as well as the botanical richness of the East. You can apply to become member, once accepted the membership fee is very high for normal Thai laborers. The Society also organizes study trips to historical sites in Thailand such as for example to Ayutaya, as well as international locations such as Iceland. The cost for such travels seems to me so high that only very few percentage Thai could consider joining. The library is a treasure in its own right, with much specialized literature and it’s a calm oasis to escape from hectic Bangkok to work or just sit and peruse through books. Unfortunately I doubts that locals would know about the place, let alone set foot, inside. There is a quite high threshold to cross, due to its exclusive and elite feel. As I heard from a local artist, ‘The Siam Society was never made for the Thai people, it was made for foreigners and it exoticizes South-East culture and history’. However I think it is great that there was/is an attempt at conserving local culture in such a way. Last time I was here, I found an incredibly interesting Anthropology book called Reflections on Thai Culture, written by William J. Klausner.
The BACC, represent the heart of the contemporary art scene. It’s a building, like many art buildings in Europe, which is quite recognizable in form, on the inside reminiscent of the circular twirling shape of the Guggenheim Museum in NY. Unlike European museum models, the building is inhabited by commercial book shops, cafe’s, smaller galleries, art stores. This time Photobangkok, an exhibition as part of a larger festival PhotoBangkokFestival has taken over most of the floor, while the conference/screening rooms were occupied by the 17th Thai Short Film and Video Festival. The selected young photographers shown here exhibited a range of humorous and political work, I especially liked the series by Pongsathorn Leelaprachakul called Authority and Sarawut Tae-o-sot called Reality Really? I still have to return to see Pause, an exhibition part of the festival on the top floor. More on this later.
21-22 aug. 2015, I attentended an artist talk about the exhibition Through the Place and Image, which is also part of PhotoBangkok, showing work by Chulayarnnon Siriphol and Latthapon Korkiatarkul, curated by Suebsang Sangwachirapiban at Chulalongkort Art Centre. The Chula-Art Center is part of Chulalongkorn University, it finds itself on the 7th floor of the library building of the campus. You have to pass through security and leave your ID in order to enter, if you are not a student or staff here. The works in the show were not photographs but are chosen due to the use of and affinity to photography. Curator of the exhibition S. Sangwachirapiban introduced the talk with discussing the history and the role of the Chula-Art center, topics shortly mentioned are shared authorship, flexibility of space, the gallery as question mark and experimental laboratory. The two artists C. Siriphol and L. Korkiatarkul gave a short overview on their respective practices. The former was discussing ideas related to using information from the actual space, to construct extra layers of information on top of the space again. The artist works with, amongst others, lights changes within a given room and animated projections of shapes on the gallery’s walls and corners. There were many illusory elements at play, which suggested an unfolding of the space, or different layers of movements and perception. L. Korkiatarkul, also works with space and perception but from a more minimal and laborious angle: such as retracing marks which has been left from people fixing up a gallery space after an exhibition or fixing up a wall to shear white gloss and perfection as part of a group show, enduring work that possibly few would notice. Something about his work and way of conversing about his works reminds me of Robert Irwins reflections in Seeing Something is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: the artist satisfaction in pursuing something trough, following up a small fascination to its actualization. Some of the ideas about the history of the art center itself seemed rather explanatory and didactic. Unfortunately there was no discussion between artists and between artist and audience afterwards. However it was exciting to see the process of the two young artists in the show. The Chula-Art Center is a large white box, a space which can be partitioned, it lends itself well to two dimensional work, as well as video.
I attended an artist talk on “DIASPORA and IDENTITY” by Chris Chong Chan Fui, (Malaysia/Canada) and Nipan Oranniwesna (Thailand) at the Jim Thompson House. The talk at the Jim Thompson House, was by two artist of the exhibition taking place now, called Missing Links which is curated by Gridthiya Gaweewong. I cannot tell you how relieved I am to see a woman curator in an important institutional role here. As most will know, Thailand is a very patriarchal society, and woman in art, just like in all other field I can think of, are absolutely under represented. In the period I have been working on this research project, I have rarely heard mention of important female artists, even observing the artist participating in the huge PhotoBangkok festival at the moment it becomes quickly clear that the gender imbalance here is immense. I have also at times strongly felt that I am stepping out of the expected bounds here, approaching curators and artist. In the quite cemented pecking order, I suppose to be so humble as to the point of silence: being young, and female has its imitations here. I suppose I am half way being excused, because I do not seem much like a Thai anymore. More about this at a later stage, when I have gathered more facts.
The artist presentation by Chris Chong Chan Fui, was very engaging: as he himself admits he prefers to start working from structural and technical decisions and it is these decisions that determines the following narrative. As a consequence of his preferred work method, the talk was also organized as such. Addressing issues of form and structure, which forms generates open ended narratives. As for recurring themes in his work, I would pin point the blurring boundary between the artificial and what we presume or accept as the natural/authentic/identity of places, plants and people. Nipan Oranniwesna, is one of the teacher sat Bangkok University, and his students were well represented in the audience. He is clearly a well loved ‘Ajan’ (Thai for teacher). The main topics of Ajans Nipan’s work are historical memory, minority cheap labors who forms the skeleton of the Thai society, such as the Isan people and Burmese immigrants. Like the artist, I am from Isan, the North-east of Thailand. Therefore I do have a weak spot for what he aims to make visible through his work. For example that ‘white’ people who come to Thailand to work or otherwise or being respected and praised, while immigrants of Burma or looked down upon, in similar veins as immigrated Thai workers in Singapore for example are under valuated, although they have paved the way for more jobs for the younger generation.
After the artist talk I met Irish art writer and curator Brian Curtin and artist Be Takerng Pattanopas for a conversation about the art scene here. Brian has been working on and off in Bangkok for the past fifteen years. He shared with me some of his ideas about the Thai art scene, the lack of a collective spirit due to competitiveness, as well as the strong presence of traditions related to the idea of ‘keeping face’. Both Brian and Be also told me about the extreme lack of funding, the extensive under evaluation of art both by the local government and the Thai citizens. Keeping this in mind it is quite impressive how art spaces seemed to have popped up like mushrooms: there is certainly a will and interest to establish a contemporary art scene. However, due to the fact that most gallery are supported by private funds, or artist / gallery holders working day jobs, it’s hard to see the sustainability of it all. As Brian said, in contradistinction to Singapore or Korea, where there are funding bodies, art patrons and corporate sponsorship, I seem to see no structural support to bring artists out into an international art scene.
Later in the evening I went to visit an art opening by Daniel Sewell at Whitespace Gallery. His work dealt with topics of prostitution and sex through provocative- raw – trash art, reminiscent of Paul McCartney’s work. Part of the exhibition also entailed improvised lyrics and music, inspired by Maw Lams, a Thai traditional manner of folklore singing, and fluxus way of composing. The topic of prostitution and sex workers, is such a sore topic within the history of Thailand, I applaud people working with the topic, but I would hope that there are more in depth and sensitive ways of approaching this problematic topic. The Whitespace Gallery, from what I can gather, seems to be a quite young space trying to support young artist, they aim for an open/experimental approach. The space itself, is a quite typical white box, but it lends itself well to smaller scale intimate exhibitions and experiments.
23th Aug. 2015, Sunday, all stores are closed but not the galleries. I passed by H Gallery, where Brian Curtin works as a curator, and at Kathmandu Gallery owned by internationally acclaimed photographer Manit Sriwanichpoom. H Gallery, is a quite unusual space, with more authentic Thai wood details. You need to ring the bell to enter. At the moment, there was an exhibition going on by Frank Day’s Call Waiting: Bangkok Phone Booths as well as work by Australian Giles Ryder called Tropical Malice, showing paintings and a neon light circular wall work. At Kathmandu Gallery, a gallery focused on photography, you will find a book store focusing on artist books and photography as well as an art shop on the groundfloor where you could buy framed photographs by M. Sriwanichpoom and other artist. On the upper floor there is a charming, white and green walled gallery space, at the moment showing an exhibition coined Signs by Akkara Naktamna. None of the works really seemed to stir anything in me, Giles Ryder works were reminiscent of textiles in the North-East used to wrap around head or waist, a characteristic sight connected for me to the rice farming culture. They were well painted, but because they were un-stretched, they started to fold inwards at the edges which seemed sloppy. Akkara Naktamna‘s Signs, showed amongst others pictures of trees/plantation which were characterized by ghost-like shapes.
25th Aug. 2015: I visited the JAM factory, which is located next to the Klong San marked, near to where I am staying. The JAM factory consists of a nice bookshop, a gallery, a coffee bar, designer clothing and furniture stores and many working studios for the creative field. Seems like the focus was on graphic design and other more desk-tied creative work. The JAM gallery was showing work by Pare Nadda, a young Thai photographer. She showed a series of black and white photographs of her daily life, together with her son and partner. The work is autobiographical: what could’ve been banal in topic – a series of photographs of a family summer holiday – turned out mysterious. Most subjects in the series are very photogenic, especially the artist, and some of her selfies, reminds me of fashion imagery. The play with light and composition, made the pictures more distanced or almost objective to me as a viewer. Framing and light turned the intimate and emotional towards a more factual image. Then I was looking for ATTA gallery and Serindia Gallery, but accidentally ended up in the very high end, pricey and exclusive OP mall. It was a short break in the day, which was surprising, since it made me realize that there is clearly a very pricey commercial scene in Bangkok. They are just more tucked away. Just around the corner, I found ATTA gallery and Serendiya. ATTA gallery shows contemporary jewelry, but because they are part of PhotoBangkokFestival, they are also showing a series of pictures, where a model show cases playful jewellery from the gallery’s collection. I do not know much about contemporary jewellery, but the pieces here were exceptionally strong in form and materials. For some reason I did not get pictures of the really interesting ones. Then I saw an exhibition Womb: The Art of Fabrics by Ploenchan “Mook” Vinyaratn and La douce morsure du temps (The Sweet Bite of Time) by Hans Georg Berger at Serindia. The first was showing colorful large scale textile work reminiscent of modernist compositions, inspired by auto biographical and personal memories. The ladder was showing a series vintage photographic prints of male nudes, posing and composing in front of different exotic locations.
26th Aug. 2015: Today I went to meet Gridthiya Gaweewong who is the director of the Jim Thompson Art Center, which is a non-profit organisation based in the Henry B. Thompson Building. The building also houses a library and workspace for the art centre. She also founded Project 304, initiated in late 1996, which is an experimental art space making use of her own living space, as a response to lack of budget/support. As she explains she also prefers to organise event without funding, because the funding usually comes with limitations in connection to content. Within her curatorial endeavours she is interested in decentralising the Bangkok art scene, to other parts of Thailand. Her curatorial practice is quite diverse, but she has a special attraction to film. Her position at the Jim Thompson Art Centre, allows her a budget to invite in artist, key speaker, to organise a Night School, where different art theory and philosophical text are being read, explained and discussed. We talked about the art schools here, the emphasise on crafts and techniques, which support the production of art which is mainly concerned with aesthetics. She mentioned that there are a huge number of galleries here, showing art from a varying degree of quality, but very few spaces who are encouraging conceptual work. There is still a long way to go in terms of production of content.
In the late aftrnoon I went to meet Narawan Kyo Pathomvat, who is the director of The Reading Room. For her young age, she has managed to be quite active in the local community. The Reading Room is a library focusing on art related books, magazines etc, However the reach of focus is inclusive of many historical, social political writing. The space organises reading groups, screening, lectures focusing on the local community so they are often in Thai. The reading groups and discussions lasted for a year, but unfortunately it was hard to generate a continuous interest, because Thai (art) scholars, as she told me, are not encouraged to read and research at all at the university. The screening turns out the most popular. Most of the people visiting the events at the space, are often specialised in other disciplines than art. They are philosophers, social-political science academics, law students. Many of the topics being addressed at the space are humanitarian topics. Sometime in the near future she would want to start an guerrilla style school for college level students, which aims to encourage a critical thinking and which aims to offer infrastructural support for students who wants to learn and read, since this is in her opinion severely lacking in art schools in Thailand. In the coming half year, she has taken a break from her teaching jobs, to go out on residencies: in Singapore and Japan, respectively doing research on any cross-referencing between Asian text and European texts in Singapore and investigating alternative spaces in Japan. As she explained to me it is hard to establish change and criticality, the monarchy is not the main problem, but rather the regime enforcing strict censureship. She says, she is looking forward to elections, maybe a change will come with that. One thing that occupies her and that she finds frustrating at the same time is that Thai cultural producers are under represented in other South-East Asian countries. She believes that this is not due to lack of funding but rather that Thai are not language strong and not very good at contextualising their field of knowledge. We discussed the lack of translated canonical Western texts, translation important philosophical and theoretical thinkers. However, again here, there is a lack in resources, financially, but also in knowledge and time.
27th Aug. 2015: I arrived at RMA Institute, at around 2pm. The space is nicely tucked away behind a few Thai soi’s. In the front of the RMA institute there is a cosy restaurant, serving coffee and Thai food. There are books stacked away in shelves, giving the space a studious environment. The gallery itself, looks professional, yet with an immediate authentic traditional Thai mood, due to a heavy wooden desk and chair in the space. At the moment the gallery is showing work by American artist Ralph Gibson. The images show details of a deck of card, a neck line of a young woman, the edge of a hat and some collage work. To me the lines within the images correlates to some wavy, organic shapes you can find in Man Ray’s work, some of the collages have a somewhat moody character, although they are more minimal, and tied within the confines of the frame. While looking at the pictures, RMA Institute’s director and artist Piyatat Hemmatat came out to meet me. We talked about his role as organiser and one of the main curators for PhotoBangkokFetsival. I am impressed with his ability to connect to so many of the local art spaces and artist, the only effort of collaboration at the moment on this scale in Bangkok. He speak softly and calmly, reminding me of how monks tend to speak. Piyatat had his education in Fine Arts in England, he has a background in painting and tried out all kinds of mediums. However he feels like he knows photography better than any other discipline, and has therefore chosen to focus his gallery program on photographers, younger as well as more established ones. He tells me that there is so much potential in Bangkok, that he feels its his responsibility to do something with it, although his own photography practice occupies him the most. Photobangkokfestival, is being run by a team of four people, amongst them is curator Ark Fongsmuth, artist and Kathmandu gallery owner Manit Sriwanichpoom, young curator Bow Wasinondh and of course Piyatat Hemmetat. Each four core member has several assistants, and there is a sort of top down organisational structure. The aim is to try to promote photography, to make use of as many different kind of art spaces, including public space. As part of the festival there are weekend workshops in key hole photography, where the public can make their own image and have young artist print their picture for a 100 Baht. There are lectures and screenings attached to many of the exhibitions, some of the collaborating gallery are also involved somehow in selecting the artists that they show in relation to the festival, other shows are more curated shows by one of the four core organisational members. Upcoming weekend, there will also be a critics round, where five international and local experts have been invited to give feedback on young photographers’ work. Local artists could apply to get feedback on their portfolio, but only ten were selected, and they get to meet three out of five critics for feedback on and conversation about their work and progress. It is a rare chance for talented young photographers to be noticed and to possible get some international connection and opportunities. Piyatat says he has been back in Thailand since eight years now and it took him that long to establish the connections he now has. He is reluctant to be associated with a political colour, since he feel that this separatism and opposition does not benefit the social political development. Instead he prefers to move in and out of different groups and beliefs, to stay as open minded as possible to different collaboration structures and possibilities. He has such a humble yet persuasive way of communicating that it is easy to recognize the treats of a good leader. I simply think that the Bangkok scene can use a few more passionate and hard working cultural producers. Just like Piyatat, I think the time is ripe, and the potential is huge. After the chat, I had a peak in his studio: the place was filled with an LP collection, analogue photo camera’s, speakers, a couch, some publication by the artist, some guitars. It felt like an oasis for hanging out, a small cosy cave for reflection and input. I left Piyatat and the space thinking: There is a lot of work to be done, and collaboration is a necessity. But unlike Piyatat, I am extremely impatient. Let’s see what the future will bring.
I also visited BUG, the gallery connected to Bangkok University. At the moment two young selected artist have been given a chance to show their worth under the heading BRANDNEW Art Project, sponsored by several local universities and corporations. On view is the work by Napat Vatanakuljalas, who is working with the interplay between 2D and 3d, breaking up spaces of drawing and perception. I enjoyed the playfulness and the scale, to walk between lines, see yourself reflected within the constructed environment. On the downside, the execution was a bit sloppy for my taste, despite the confidence in the hand drawn lines, I would have preferred a little more focus on details. Two floor up, young painter Jarasporn Chumsri, has taken over the room. She displays paintings based on joyful, quirky Instagram pictures, and try to render them into thick layers of paint and colorful, exuberant colors. As she explains in her video, due to a depressions, she decided to only pick and paint pictures that can cheer her up: pictures out of the day to day, but also ones which people chooses to represent themselves in. The paintings testifies to a secure hand and interesting use of composition and technique. Despite the fact that the artist designates her own process as therapy in the video just outside the exhibition room, I felt that there were subtle delirious and torturous mood associated with some of the imagery. In my opinion, the all too explanatory nature of the video was a hindrance to the viewers reading and the possibility of the painterly space to captivate one’s thoughts.
28th Aug. 2015: I went back to see the top three floors of the BACC. On view was a group exhibition with Polish artists called Proximity II, which is an exhibition as part of an exchange program between a Polish and a Thai curator, respectively Bartek Otocki and Pichaya Aime Suphavanijwith with the aim of promoting contemporary art from both countries. The exhibition is the result of the BACC Exhibition department in collaboration with inSPIRACJE International Visual Art Festival ’13 muz’. The participating artists are Adam Witkowski, Agata Bielska, Anna Witkowska, Artur Malewski, Franciszek Orlowski, Grzegorz Drozd, Krzysztof KED Olszewski, Paulina Sadowska, Pawel Kula, Piotr Skiba, Tomasz Kozak. Overall the exhibition was installed with care, occupying the large scale space of the BACC well. Somehow you seem to seamlessly walk in to different pockets of spaces, occupied by different artist, through the use of diagonal walls: sometimes you catch a glimpse of the next artist, while you are still spending time with a particular piece, creating or suggesting a link between different bodies of work, at other times you find yourself more in a box-like space, generating a sense of immersions within one particular mood or atmosphere. I enjoyed seeing these kind of attention to detail. In terms of work, there were a few artist that particularly caught my eye: In one of Tomasz Kozak’s video-work, you see a strange collage like video dealing with seemingly disparate contents, until you realise that there are a few reoccurring topics connected to the idea of race, more particular the Aryan race. The video feels somewhat nonsensical and jumping between different ideas, although the title of the work is Yoga Lesson, which suggest a meditative flow. In my opinion, the most engaging body of work by a far was by the hand of Grzegorz Drozd who through his work, makes visible the exclusion and melancholia of the Dudziarska housing estate. In one video, Substitute Label, you see two kids trying to move a piece of square wooden furniture to a camp they are building to play in. The effort and play of the children are set against the background of huge, grey impersonal post-soviet living blocks. The voice over is lending ideas connected to Modernism, creating a strange tension to the children’s play and modernist ideals in juxtaposition to the cold backdrop. Next to the video you see a large scale print of a painterly intervention, titled Universal, on the same building blocks: large black rectangular shapes, filling the facades of three buildings in a row. The reference to Malevich black square, overlaid on the tall concrete walls: a simple suggestion to reflect upon the relationship between a functionalism, a living quarter produced not for individuals but for a supposed unity, and between ideas of high constructivist and modernist ideals. He also showed a series of six photographs, under the title Cynwajsy displaying the face of the same man, the text accompanying the work contained a list terms used by prisoners as body painting, to show characteristics and affiliations. The three works feels strongly linked because they suggest a cluster of relationships to a specific location and people: because of the works poetic space, you as a viewer cannot but empathize with the people inside those grey blocks. There were other works with interesting qualities which I shall not discuss due to time limitations.
One floor up, was a large retrospective by Thai artist Ithipol Thangchalok: showing paintings, prints, collages. The exhibition was contextualized through terms such as meditation, levels of spirituality through composition, shape and colours. The works were diverse and captivating in terms of composition and technique, unfortunately I was not allowed to take pictures due to copyright issues.
On the top floor, another exhibition named Pause, which is part of the Bangkokphotofestival. Pause is a show about everything related to regional topics, an eclectic mix of young photographers’ work. The one work that caught my eye was by Robert Zhao Renhui, The Blind: a series of experiments with a cloak developed by the Institute of Critical Zoologist, according to the exhibition text ‘works on the principle that an object vanishes from sight if light rays striking it are not reflected, but are instead forced to flow around it as if it was not there.’
29th Aug. 2015: The last day of my research was also the most exciting day: I visited Tentacles Residency to meet its initiators Henry Tan and Noll Khunkitti. Henry has an education in Economy, Noll studied media and cultural studies in London. Together they run Tentacles, a residency which they started a bit over six month ago. Tentacles, is a humble residency, still in its raw state with a lot of potential. At the moment the space looks like a garage, that is being used as a studio. One artist or an artist couple can live there and work there, for a duration fitting to their project. This could be a period of a few days to weeks or months. At the moment the artists in residence are Amy Wang and Zhong Chengshui. Henry and Noll are financing rent from own shares, and they try to invite young graduates to come and experiment in their space. They provide guided art tours for their residents, introducing the visiting artist to the local scene. In return the artist are asked to hold open studio sometime during their residency, to show what they are working on and to share their process to local visitors. Henry and Tan rent the garage space from a Japanese art school for kids within the age range of five to ten years. This sometimes entails some limitations on graphic imagery, and what kind of projects gets to see the light of day. They are also running Kmutt Space, in Rachaburi, a bigger residency in collaboration with King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT). The Space is owned by the King Mongkut university but was not being used. So Henry and Noll were invited to initiate something. Here they can have up to four artist at a time: the studio is open for students to visit and the artist are asked to give an artist talk, which is often attended by engineers and students from other disciplines creating for an interesting mix of people and topic of conversation. Kmutt Space was given some funding by the university, but for phase two Henry and Noll are using their own funds. This implies that resources are limited: no artist fee or a fancy studio, but a lot of will power to built toward something exciting. The aim for both initiators is to offer a platform for experimentation for a young generation. To fill the gap between art education and more established venues, who are more exclusive in their program. We discussed the lack of structure for the space, strategies for the space to become self sustainable, for Henry and Tan to be able to quit their day job so that they can really focus on the program. I am glad to see their will and engagement, in my ten days search I have found few recent graduates who are willing to carry the responsibility of organizing and investing in a communal space. Noll says, he would be very interested in organizing studio visit talks, where artist can discuss and constructively criticize each others work. ‘To criticize each others work is very hard for Thai people, it is not something that is familiar or encouraged.’ I think they still have a lot of work ahead, and hope they are not yet discouraged by the system. I think Bangkok really needs this kinds of more down to earth spaces, spaces for trying out and discussion. I plan to stay in touch with them, maybe we can work together towards similar aims.
After an inspiring talk with Henry and Noll, I went to Speedy Grandma, the new buzz in town. Most young artists I spoke to up to this day, recommended me to check out this space. Artist describes it as ‘a different kind of space than the more established, elite places’. I understood that Speedy Grandma, is a hub for young artist, art students, international visitors with artistic interests. I did not know what to expect: it was praised by the younger generation of artist, but never mentioned by the more established or institutional spaces. Upon arrival one thing is clear: this space is popular. Visitors are crammed into the exhibition space, the bar, the upper residency area and store, up to the point where they are occupying half of the small in ham, in which the gallery is located. Today Speedy Grandma is having its birthday and its being celebrated with Open Calls for exhibiting and for residencies. The requirements are quite broad: experiments, collaboration, communication and innovation are encouraged. The space feels strangely familiar, because in someway it reminds me of self-organised spaces elsewhere in Europe. There is a strong party vibe, the huge bowl of what looks like a killer punch has been drained. I feel sceptical towards this emphasise on exuberant partying. Then I met Judha Su, one of the four founders of the space. She studied history of art, and is currently a research fellow at Asia Centre Japan Foundation around the topic of Thinking in Critical Constellations: In search of art criticism practices in archipelagic countries Indonesia, Philippines, and Japan. She explains to me that the space is being funded by four initiators. She is mainly responsable for the educational part of the program, organising artist talks or workshops. She says that the workshops they’ve been hired to do started to help them pay for the space, and the beer sale helps as well. She is well aware of the party mood of Speedy Grandma and before I mention it says: ‘Other spaces in Bangkok are more elite and exclusive. There is little opportunities for young artist to be given a chance to experiment in a public setting. We do things differently, we try to have a low threshold, to encourage communication between the space and the locals,… ‘ Judha is also bothered with the level of criticality, and lack of collaboration between different art spaces in Bangkok. We talked about gender issues in Thailand. The need for a platform for more reading, experimenting, discourse and contextualising. I felt excited to speak with someone so passionate and engaged with her field. After all this talking, maybe there is an exciting chance for a conversation and collaboration for us on the horizon…