The Silence in Thai Contemporary Art

As activists become more artistic in response to Thailand’s social and political injustices, should the country’s artists do more to engage with the society around them?

By Thanavi Chotpradit

Rirkrit Tiravanija, (who’s afraid of red, yellow, and green), 2010 (installation view). Image: courtesy the artist and 100 Tonson Gallery, Bangkok Prapat Jiwarangsan, I’ll never smile again, 2010 (installation view). Image: courtesy the artist and WTF Gallery, Bangkok

Fractured, embittered, polarised... these are some of the words that come to mind when we talk about contemporary Thai politics. The same words can be applied to the Thai art scene, too, given how the spoken or unspoken political positions of artists have caused rifts in the art community.How have artists responded to this state of affairs? Disappointingly, in general. In the past decade, while there is an evidently ideological turn in the work of many artists, many of whom…

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