Chua, Suwatthanansilp and Thongchai are early career artists who live in Singapore and Bangkok. They share an interest in modes of disclosure and the complexities surrounding what is public and what is private. In bringing them together, the exhibition raises the possibility of connections between the presence of the supernatural in Southeast Asia and the politics of these artists.
Although the supernatural is as commodified as any aspect of contemporary life in Southeast Asia, it is notable that a number of prominent mythologies feature female ghosts who cause trouble. While they may appear to have been pushed to the margins by the forces of digital modernity, figures such as the Krasue and the Pontianak have proven to be canny — and nimble — in their capacity to traverse folklore, popular culture and philosophical enquiry. In this exhibition, such narratives, which do not observe national borders, arguably inspire these artists in their consideration of questions of self and belonging.
My Sisters and other Ghosts: Genevieve Chua, Imhathai Suwatthanasilp, Bussaraporn Thongchai is presented in association with Contemporary Art and Feminism, an independent research platform with links to Sydney College of the Arts; the School of Letters, Arts and Media; and the Power Institute, University of Sydney, Sydney.
Note: the collection of images below are an introduction to rather than a documentation of the exhibition.
|Bussaraporn Thongchai, Me and Mom, 2010, crayon on canvas, 130 x 150 cm, courtesy the artist and collection of Reinhart Frais||Bussaraporn Thongchai, The Dress, 2013, crayon on paper, 145 x 75 cm (unframed)||Bussaraporn Thongchai, Woman and a big fish, 2015, studio view, crayon on paper, 1500 x 3300 cm (unframed)|
|Genevieve Chua, Child and the Beast #3, 2011, giclée on cotton paper, 20 x 20 cm (image) 50 x 50 cm (paper)||Genevieve Chua, Child and the Beast #5, 2011, giclée on cotton paper, 20 x 20 cm (image) 50 x 50 cm (paper)||Genevieve Chua, Child and the Beast #7, 2011, giclée on cotton paper, 20 x 20 cm (image) 50 x 50 cm (paper)|
|Genevieve Chua, Mnemonic 1,4,5,6,12, 2014, acrylic and screenprint with enamel on shaped canvases, 65 x 79 x 4.5 cm||Genevieve Chua, Tillandsia Usneoides Fig 11, 2013-14, white ink and giclée on Japanese Kozo paper, 59 x 48.5 x 5 cm (framed)||Genevieve, Tillandsia Usneoides Fig 12, 2013–14, white ink and giclée on Japanese Kozo paper, 59 x 48.5 x 5 cm (framed)|
|Imhathai Suwatthanasilp, Dreamcatcher (Four Ladies) (detail), 2014, synthetic hair, stones, cowrie shells, wire coat hangers, each approx 55 x 55 cm, display dimensions variable, photo: Krisada Suvichakonpong, courtesy the artist and Numthong Gallery, Bangkok||Imhathai Suwatthanasilp, Dreamcatcher (Four Ladies) (detail), 2014, synthetic hair, stones, cowrie shells, wire coat hangers, each approx 55 x 55 cm, display dimensions variable, photo: Krisada Suvichakonpong, courtesy the artist and Numthong Gallery, Bangkok||Imhathai Suwatthanasilp, The heart of the pelvis, 2015, graphite and acrylic on paper, 56 x 76 cm (unframed), courtesy the artist|
|Imhathai Suwatthanasilp, See-True No. 2 (detail), 2010, artist’s hair, digital photograph, eyeglasses, glass ball, photograph 51 x 83 cm, shelf 1 x 64 x 20 cm, display dimensions variable, courtesy the artist|
|Denise Thwaites, Phaptawan Suwannakudt and Jasmin Stephens opening 'My Sisters and other Ghosts', background 'Woman and a big fish' by Bussaraporn Thongchai||Denise Thwaites, Phaptawan Suwannakudt and Jasmin Stephens opening 'My Sisters and other Ghosts', background 'Woman and a big fish' by Bussaraporn Thongchai||Parita Nobthai with works by Imhathai Suwatthanasilp|
|Exhibition view, silversalt photography||Imhathai Suwatthanasilp, See-True No. 2, installation view, silversalt photography|
|Imhathai Suwatthanasilp, See-True No. 2, installation view, silversalt photography|
Working primary through abstraction, Genevieve Chua pursues an unfurling narrative that is informed by natural history and linguistics. While contested notions of nature and wilderness persist across her work, the form taken by her exhibitions – whether installations, images or objects – is mediated through these processes.
Her recent solo exhibitions include Moths, Gallery EXIT, Hong Kong (2015); Cicadas Cicadas, Gusford, Los Angeles (2014); and Birthing Ground Not a Sound, Valentine Willie Fine Art, Singapore (2012). Selected group shows include I went to the forest to live deliberately, Artinformal, Manila (2015); Encountering the Unknown, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka (2013); Future Proof, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore (2012); BMW Young Asian Artists Series, Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Singapore (2011); and Singapore Biennale, Old Kallang Airport, Singapore (2011). In 2012 she was a recipient of the Young Artist Award conferred by the National Arts Council, Singapore. Chua was born in Singapore in 1984; studied at LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore; and lives in Singapore. She is represented by Gallery EXIT, Hong Kong, and Gusford, Los Angeles.
Imhathai Suwatthanasilp’s finely wrought drawings, objects and installations are literally woven from the fabric of her life. Incorporating the hair of family members with materials as diverse as shells, stones, wire coat hangers, glass and terracotta, her works express the contentment and yearnings associated with domestic and family ties.
Her recent solo exhibitions include Rebirth, Numthong Gallery, Bangkok (2014); Hair for Hope, Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre, Bangkok (2012); and Hair for Hope: A New Beginning, ARDEL’s Third Place Gallery, Bangkok (2012). Selected group shows include Rates of Exchange, Uncompared: Contemporary Art in Bangkok and Phnom Penh, H Gallery, Bangkok, and SA SA BASSAC, Phnom Penh (2014-15); WE=ME ASEAN Art Exhibition, Silpakorn University, Bangkok (2013); Thai Transience, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore (2012); and Art on Farm at Baan Jim, Jim Thompson Art Center, Bangkok (2012). Later this year she will undertake a residency at Padepokan Lemah Putih, the interdisciplinary arts centre, in Solo, Indonesia. Suwattanaslip was born in Bangkok in 1981; studied at Silpakorn University, Bangkok; and lives in Bangkok.
Bussaraporn Thongchai’s drawings and writings convey a restless and bleak world in which relationships seem doomed. Intent on defying social norms and unflinchingly honest, Thongchai populates her world with a cast of grotesque ghostly life forms produced by ‘rummaging through an enormous pile of love and lust’.
Her recent solo exhibitions include I’m Not Your Holy Mother, ARDEL’s Third Place Gallery, Bangkok (2015); Sorry! Life in Progress, Galerie N, Bangkok (2013); and The Man Number 10, ARDEL’s Third Place Gallery, Bangkok (2012). Selected group shows include Thai Charisma: Heritage + Creative Power, Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre, Bangkok (2014); Thai Transience, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore (2012); and Thai Trends from Localism to Internationalism, Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre, Bangkok (2012). In 2012 Thongchai participated in the Asian Artist Residency Program hosted by Gwangju Metropolitan City/Gwangju Cultural Foundation, Gwangju, Korea. She was born in Nakorn Panom in 1985; studied at Silpakorn University, Bangkok; and lives in Bangkok.
Jasmin Stephens is an independent curator who lives in Sydney. She has undertaken residencies with Singapore Biennale and The Reading Room in Bangkok with the support of Asialink and the Australia Council.
The sex ceiling, Bangkok Post, Section: Life, Writer: Kaona Pongipat, Issue: 16 September, 2015 - http://www.bangkokpost.com/print/694988/
My Sisters and other Ghosts, Sharne Wolff, The Art Life, 21 September 2015 - http://theartlife.com.au/2015/my-sisters-and-other-ghosts/
Jasmin Stephens, Interview, Canvas on FBi 94.5, 'Feminist Curating & Stinking Ghosts', Sunday 20 September 2015, with Frances Barrett-Green - http://canvasonfbi.podbean.com/e/canvas-052-feminist-curating-stinking-ghosts/