Future Greats: Orawan Arunrak

selected by Arin Rungjang. From the Summer issue of ArtReview Asia

By Arin Rungjang

Orawan Arunrak, Exit – Entrance, 2016–17, in-progress image, 2017. Photo: Wolfgang Bellwingkle. Courtesy the artist Orawan Arunrak, hand-drawn images printed as wallpaper, 2017, 150 × 340 cm. Courtesy the artist QR CODE of the sounds and archive, 2017

The artistic practice of Orawan Arunrak draws heavily on her personal life as a Buddhist and as a woman living in Thailand. It is also often inspired by her travels through her home country as well as the rest of Southeast Asia, as she is interested in cultural similarities and differences between various local communities. Using a range of media, including drawings and video, she creates installations that are meditative yet thought-provoking.

Motivated to challenge the use of language and its linguistic description of a person’s identity, Arunrak examines the unconscious attitudes and prejudices that different languages and cultures inherently express. The work Exit-Entrance (2016–17) takes the form of a combination of four languages used in a conversation between ten people: a Thai monk, a Thai nun, a Thai anthropologist, a Thai woman, a German woman, a German anthropologist, a Thai woman, a German woman, a German anthropologist, a German man ordained in a Thai temple in Berlin, a Vietnamese nun and a Vietnamese woman, all of whom live in both Asia and Europe. The visual and sound elements of this four-language conversation are presented in the form of an installation of images displayed in a pattern on the wall that is designed from the conversations in Thai, German, English and Vietnamese.

Arunrak is based in Bangkok. Following a yearlong residency at Künstlerhaus Bethanien, her work is currently on view at the Berlin space, through 18 June. 

From the Summer 2017 issue of ArtReview Asia, in association with K11 Art Foundation