, Visual Arts, 2014


At the centre of Chitti Kasemkitvatana’s work stands a concept of emptiness, of the presence of the absent/absence with particular focus on its permeability. The Thai artists draws no distinctions, either between various positions in the art world, or between art and everything else, spirituality for instance. Following an active period in the Bangkok art scene during the 1990s Kasemkitvatana lived in a forest monastery in the north of Thailand from 2002 and 2010.

Then, as today – before and after his time in the monastery –Kasemkitvatana propagates a radically expanded concept of art, as social practice above all, a sphere of enabling, a domain of encounter, a network and free space. Artistic, curatorial and publishing work all have an equal footing within these parameters; the boundaries between spheres are fluid. At the turn of the millennium, for example, he worked with Rirkrit Tiravanija at Ver Magazine and curated exhibitions for the About Art Related Activities (AARA) project in About Cafe, one of the main art locations in the city at the time. Since 2012 he has been part of a group that runs Messy Project Space in Bangkok (and also publishes the Messy Sky Magazine with Pratchaya Phinthong).

In his own artistic work Kasemkitvatana also focuses on the moment in which various spheres become “porous”. This also applies to his biography, where the interruption of his art career to spend time in a monastery should not be regarded as a retreat from art, nor his eventual return to the art world as a end to his preoccupation with spirituality. The various fields and periods are interwoven in a multitude of ways. Recent exhibitions such as Tomorrow Was Yesterday (2011) at the Jim Thompson foundation in Bangkok, assimilate old works from the 1990s, transforming them, paying respect to Kasemkitvatana’s old teacher Aleks Danko, and incorporating experiences from the monastery.

His works and exhibitions return again and again to themes of emptiness and concentration: books with empty pages, elaborately folded paper fans, empty wooden boxes (as seen for example in the exhibition mo(nu)ment / […] / memor(y)ial – another transmission (2012) at gb agency/Leven One in Paris). As part of a performance performed 2012 in Paris for series no. 00 Kasemkitvatana attempted to transfer a coin into the Zone de Sensibilité Picturale Immaterielle proclaimed by Yves Klein at the same location 50 years earlier. The idea was to translate a piece of materiality into immateriality and thus render the void tangible.

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