Thailand, Music & Sound, 2023


Photo: Jasper Kettner

Growing up in Thailand’s art scenes during one of the country’s most politically unstable periods, Pisitakun Kuantalaeng kicked off his practice as a visual artist in 2009, essentially focused on political speculations and frustrations. Thailand’s 2010 Red Shirt protests and the government crackdown solidified his approach as a permanent critical thinker and artist.

One of the works that first brought him into the spotlight,The Unfinished History” initiated in 2012, queries the truth hidden behind political power and conflicted histories by asking who is allowed to write history. The project proposes a re-writing of histories in the form of drawings and comic strips, and includes blank spaces where the public can also add their own interpretations. The work continues to travel and evolve, exploring multiple dimensions of histories by allowing different groups of people to collaboratively create an alternative library of world histories.

Pisitakun’s interest in music started to increase. He began to experiment with how sonic expressions take shape under different media environments. The multimedia work “Black Country” (2017) was born out of forced confrontation in a country where things go beyond rationality. In the show, which combined noise and techno sonics with black metal aesthetics and performance, a set of made-up beliefs and rituals of a fictitious country were played out to humourous scrutiny.

Music has subsequently turned out to be an important part of Pisitakun’s career. He joined Chinabot – a platform and collective created to change the dialogue surrounding Asian music – through which he released multiple albums. SOSLEEP (2018) was created shortly after the death of his father from cancer, and combined traditional mourning instruments with harsh noise and techno beats, wrapping them around intimate recordings of the hospital machinery that kept his father alive during his final days. Absolute C.O.U.P. (2020) questioned democracy and freedom of expression in Thailand, which seem like a far-off dream. Thailand has undergone 13 military coups d’états following the Siamese Revolution in 1932, more than any other country in modern history. Kongkraphan (2022) presents the forgotten voices of Thai protesters, and the sounds of wrath towards an unjust situation. The title literally means invulnerable or immortal, and also signifies a type of Thai talisman that grants invincibility. In this album, it stands for the ideology and fighting spirit of the protesters, which have never faded.

Pisitakun’s practice represents a decisive break from many of his Thai peers: he questions fundamental and increasingly global values without merely decrying the fact of corruption or offering neat palliatives.

Pisitakun Kuantalaeng (b.1986) graduated with a BFA in Sculpture, School of Architecture, Art, and Design – King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, Bangkok, Thailand. His artworks have been shown at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC), Kuandu Biennale 2014 (Taipei), Jogja Biennale 2019 (Yogyakarta), Rua Do Sol and A Leste (Porto, 2021-2022). His music was performed at CTM Festival (Berlin), Asian Meeting Festival (Tokyo), MEIA (Aveiro), Spaziomusica Festival (Cagliari),  and Cafe OTO (London,). He is supported by the European SHAPE+ platform in 2022/23. He currently lives and works in Europe. 

Text: Penwadee Nophaket Manont


    Pisitakun Kuantalaeng

    2023, online compilation

    The compilation MIDDLE SOUND #01 is released on November 27, 2023. Pisitakun Kuantalaeng (music & sound fellow 2023) invited eighteen international musical artists to reinterpret protest songs from their home countries. The online album will feature the resulting tracks along with background information on the original songs and artists involved. The release is part of Kuantalaeng’s larger project THE THREE SOUND OF REVOLUTION examining the connections and variances between global protest movements where music often plays a central role. A further iteration of the project will be presented at CTM Festival 2024 – SUSTAIN in collaboration with the Artists-in-Berlin Program.

    With contributions by: Abadir (EG), Teya Logos (PH), Gabber Modus Operandi (ID), Pisitakun (TH), Wanton Witch (MY), Neo Geodesia (CB), WAQ WAQ KINGDOM (JP), Odete (PT), Ale Hop (PE), Carla Boregas (BR), Ruhail Qaisar (IN), fatalism (GR), Hui Ye (CN), PNIKY HTUT AUNG (MM), HURA (IR), Tanat Teeradakorn (TH)

    Mastered by: Enyang Urbiks, Urbiks Music GmbH
    website conception & realization: José Fernandes
    supported by DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program

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