MEDIA RELEASE

Rates of Exchange, Un-Compared
Contemporary Art in Bangkok and Phnom Penh
January 31 – 8 March, 2015
SA SA BASSAC
Artists: Orawan Arunrak, Makha Sanewong Na Ayuthaya, Tada Hengsapkul, Khvay
Samnang, Pen Sereypagna, Pinaree Sanpitak (with Seng Simouy and Sok Chanrado),
Jakkai Siributr, Imhathai Suwatthanaslip, Tith Kanitha
Curated by Roger Nelson with Brian Curtin

About the exhibition
SA SA BASSAC is pleased to announce an exhibition of art in various media from
Bangkok and Phnom Penh, titled Rates of Exchange, Un-Compared. A different version
of this exhibition was previously shown at H Gallery Bangkok in December 2014.
Rates of Exchange, Un-Compared is the concluding event in a six-month series of
symposia, gatherings and artist residencies that steadfastly skirts a particular way of
looking at and conceptualizing contemporary art from these two cities. Ideas of the
nation-state, comparative histories and the economic and institutional currency of
geography, among other typical or potential frameworks, are held in critical relief. As the
title suggests, this project considers the cost[s] of distinct frameworks for approaching
and disseminating knowledge of contemporary art; instead, the project explores
unpredictable relationships between artists as part of a discursive inquiry into current art
from both cities.
The choice of Bangkok and Phnom Penh is announced as arbitrary, drawing out
differences and diversities as means of looking at contemporary art in the region and
otherwise. Of course, potential comparisons do exist; Cambodia and Thailand share a
large and sometimes contested national border, are constitutional monarchies, hold a
belief system based on animism and Theravada Buddhism and are economically reliant
on tourism and manufacturing. Moreover, the contemporary development of both cities
functions in extreme contrast to other parts of their respective countries. Nevertheless,
the project refuses any claim to represent or address similarities or differences between
Bangkok and Phnom Penh; in short, it insists on the critical value of their remaining
deliberately ‘un-compared’.
Rates of Exchange, Un-Compared activates connections between artists, curators and
galleries from Bangkok and Phnom Penh. Participants are at different levels of their
careers, work in varying contexts and carry diverse ambitions. A premise of the project is
that dialogue between them has been slight to date. But Rates of Exchange, UnCompared insists on the multiplicity of meanings inherent not only in a given art ‘world’
and geographical location but also within artists’ practices.
Rates of Exchange, Un-Compared is funded in part by the Australia Council for the Arts
and curated by Roger Nelson and Brian Curtin.

 

MEDIA RELEASE

About the artists
All Thai artists are exhibiting new work that was created for Rates of Exchange, UnCompared.
Orawan Arunrak (born 1985, Bangkok) is an artist based in Bangkok. Her work is often
based in drawing and emphasizes the importance of place in relation to people and
objects. As part of Rates of Exchange, Un-Compared she undertook a 6-week residency
at Sa Sa Art Projects in Phnom Penh. Arunrak is now undertaking a 6-month residency at
Sàn Art in Ho Chi Minh City. Exhibitions include What Are They Doing Inside? (Speedy
Grandma, Bangkok, 2013); Concept Context Contestation: Art and the Collective in
Southeast Asia (Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre, Bangkok, 2013);
Makha Sanewong Na Ayuthaya (born 1987, Nonthaburi) is an artist based in Bangkok.
His work with most found objects—which he considers a kind of sculpture—critically
considers the use and uselessness of objects, especially those that hold specific
resonances in Thailand. Exhibitions include Unidentified Familiar Object (WTF Gallery,
Bangkok, 2014) and Non Still Life (Pongnoi Community Art Space, Chiang Mai, 2011).
Tada Hengsapkul (born 1987, Korat) is an artist based in Bangkok. His work, mostly in
photography and video, often uses humor to question taboos and reveal shifts in systems
of belief in Thailand. As part of Rates of Exchange, Un-Compared he spoke on his work
at a symposium in Phnom Penh’s Bophana Center in July 2014. Exhibitions include
Parade (H Gallery, Bangkok, 2013); No Superego (Toot Yung Gallery, Bangkok); and On
the Threshold of the Senses (Tally Beck Contemporary, New York City, 2012).
Khvay Samnang (born 1982, Svay Rieng) is an artist based in Phnom Penh. Working
mostly in photography, video, performance and installation, he seeks to highlight changes
in culture and environment and their effect on individuals and communities. Khvay is cofounder of Sa Sa Art Projects, Phnom Penh’s only artist-run space, located in the White
Building. He is currently undertaking a yearlong residency at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien,
Berlin and has been a finalist for numerous art prizes, including in 2015 the Sovereign
Asian Art Prize (Hong Kong). Exhibitions include Human Nature (Tomio Koyama Gallery,
Singapore, 2014); Asian Art Biennial (Taipei, 2013); Singapore Biennale (2013) and
Newspaper Man (SA SA BASSAC, 2012).
Pen Sereypagna (born 1989, Phnom Penh) is an architect and urban researcher based
in Phnom Penh. His interdisciplinary work often engages communities and explores the
relationship between built form and lived experience. As part of Rates of Exchange, UnCompared he spoke on his work at a symposium in Bangkok’s Reading Room in October
2014. In 2012 Pen was awarded a six-month residency in New York City from the Asian
Cultural Council; there he audited courses at Parsons The New School for Design. He is
currently undertaking an extended residency at Sa Sa Art Projects in Phnom Penh
researching the “genealogy of urban form” in the White Building and surrounding Bassac
area. Exhibitions include Phnom Penh Visions (Our City Festival, Phnom Penh, 2014).
Pen is the founder of Lumhor, Cambodia’s only journal of architecture and urbanism.
Pinaree Sanpitak (born 1961, Bangkok) is one of Thailand’s most widely known and
respected artists. Her practice in various media usually engages with the human body,
often through use of a form she calls the “breast stupa.” As part of Rates of Exchange,

 

MEDIA RELEASE

Un-Compared she presented a participatory gathering titled Breast Stupa Cookery:
Prahok/Plaa Raa at Phnom Penh’s Psar Kao Ko Restaurant in July 2014, and spoke on
her work at a symposium in Phnom Penh’s Bophana Center in July 2014. Exhibitions
include Hanging by a Thread (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2013); Sydney
Biennale (2012); Emotional Drawings (SOMA Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea, 2009) and
Temporary Insanity (Jim Thompson House, Bangkok, 2004).
Seng Simouy (born 1994, Phnom Penh) and Sok Chanrado (born 1994, Phnom Penh)
are photographers and filmmakers based in Phnom Penh. They were invited to film
Pinaree Sanpitak’s Breast Stupa Cookery: Prahok/Plaa Raa event, and the resulting
videos are exhibited in Rates of Exchange, Un-Compared. Sok’s previous exhibitions
include Spot Art (Singapore, 2014).
Jakkai Siributr (born 1961, Bangkok) is an artist based in Bangkok. He works primarily
with meticulously hand-stitched textiles, often interrogating the role of Buddhist and
animist belief systems in relation to contemporary realities. Exhibitions include Transient
Shelter (Tyler Rollins Fine Art, New York City, 2014); The Roving Eye (ARTER Space for
Art, Istanbul, 2014) and Asian Art Biennial (Taipei, 2009).
Imhathai Suwatthanaslip (born 1981, Bangkok) is an artist based in Bangkok. She
works in various media, often incorporating real or artificial human hair in a consideration
of memory and loss in relation to the human body. Exhibitions include Rebirth (Numthong
Gallery, Bangkok, 2014); Hair for Hope (Bangkok Art and Culture Center, 2012) and DNA
(Valentine Willie Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur, 2008)
Tith Kanitha (born 1987, Phnom Penh) is an artist based in Phnom Penh. Her work in
various media including sculpture, performance and installation is often concerned with
slow and meditative processes. For Rates of Exchange, Un-Compared she will exhibit a
newly commissioned video work filmed in Phnom Penh’s White Building; she also spoke
on her work at a symposium in Bangkok’s Reading Room in October 2014. Exhibitions
include Phnom Penh: Rescue Archaeology (ifaGalerie, Berlin and Stuttgart, 2013) and
Companions (French Cultural Center, Phnom Penh, 2011). She is an AIT Backers artist
in residence, Tokyo (2015).
About the curators
Rates of Exchange, Un-Compared is guest curated by Roger Nelson and Brian Curtin.
Roger Nelson is an independent curator based in Phnom Penh, and a PhD candidate at
the University of Melbourne researching contemporary and modern Cambodian art and
culture. Nelson publishes internationally on Southeast Asian contemporary art, including
in ArtAsiaPacific; Artlink; Contemporaneity: Historical Presence in Visual Culture; Udaya:
Journal of Khmer Studies; and Randian. Recent catalogue essays include Pinaree
Sanpitak at Yavuz Fine Art, Singapore (2014); Khvay Samnang at Tomio Koyama
Gallery, Singapore (2014); and Khvay Samnang at Taipei’s Asian Art Biennial (coauthored with Erin Gleeson, 2013). Roger recently spoke on performance in Cambodian
art at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (2013), and in 2014 and 2015 is working on
curatorial projects in Cambodia, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and
Vietnam. In 2015-6 he joins Ambitious Alignments: New Histories of Southeast Asian Art,

 

MEDIA RELEASE

a research initiative of the Getty Foundation and University of Sydney. He has previously
curated one group exhibition at SA SA BASSAC, titled new artefacts (2012).
Brian Curtin is an Irish-born lecturer, art critic and curator of contemporary art. He holds
a PhD in studio art from the University of Bristol and has been based in Bangkok since
2000. His research areas include queer aesthetics, contemporary art in Southeast Asia
and critical theories of photography. Brian publishes internationally with magazines such
as Frieze, Flash Art, Artforum.com and Art Asia Pacific; and was an art critic for
the Bangkok Post during 2010-2013. He has also published in Art Journal, The Journal of
Curatorial Studies, Parachute and Public 45: Civic Spectacle; and his profiles of artists
include Sopheap Pich, Jakkai Siributr, Collier Schorr, Paul Pfeiffer, Araya
Rasdjarmrearnsook and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Brian has curated exhibitions in
China, New York, Korea and the UK as well as regionally.
Public programs
Rates of Exchange, Un-Compared, the exhibition, will be accompanied by a dynamic
series of public programs engaging diverse communities in Phnom Penh. These will
include:
- “Meet the visiting artists” with Jakkai Siributr, Tada Hengsapkul, Orawan Arunrak and
Makha Sanewong Na Ayuthaya: 7pm on 31 January 2015 (during exhibition opening)
- school visits
Several other public programs relating to the exhibition have already been presented.
These include:
- panel discussion titled “Phnom Penh and Bangkok: the Art of Cities, Un-Compared”
presented in Singapore at Art Stage Singapore in January 2015. Speakers: Pen
Sereypagna and Orawan Arunrak. Moderated by urban geographer Esther Rootham
and introduced by Brian Curtin, the panel was convened by Roger Nelson as part of
Art Stage Singapore’s ARTnews Talks Series
- symposium titled “Contemporary Art in Bangkok: Some Divergent Views” presented in
Phnom Penh at Bophana Center in July 2014
- symposium titled “Contemporary Art in Phnom Penh: Some Divergent Views”
presented in Bangkok at Reading Room in October 2014
- participatory gathering by artist Pinaree Sanpitak titled “Breast Stupa Cookery:
Prahok/Plaa Raa” presented in Phnom Penh at Psar Kap Ko Restaurant in July 2014
Visiting artists Orawan Arunrak, Tada Hengsapkul, Makha Sanewong Na Ayuthaya and
Jakkai Siributr are available for interview in Phnom Penh from 29 January to 1 February.
Contacts and inquiries
Moeng Meta, Community Projects Manager, SA SA BASSAC
012 768 672 | meta@sasabassac.com
Roger Nelson, guest curator of Day by Day
017 508 926 | rogeredwardnelson@gmail.com
Erin Gleeson, Artistic Director, SA SA BASSAC
012 507 917 | erin@sasabassac.com (available by email only Jan 18-28)

 

MEDIA RELEASE

Makha Sanewong Na Ayuthaya, Newspaper, 2014. Newspaper and DC motor.

Orawan Arunrak, My Godfather, 2014-15. Single-channel digital video and installation of
found jacket with gold thread. Photograph by Koji Mototake.

 

MEDIA RELEASE

Pen Sereypagna, Phnom Penh Visions, 2014. Ink on digital print on paper.

Jakkai Siributr, Fast Fashion,
2014 (detail). Embroidery on
garments (12 garments).

Related Interests