Creating "In Situ" at Isara Winitchai

 As a contemporary artistic method of working within the skin of a historic site, artwork created within a site, "in situ," allows it to seamlessly merge narratives of past and present, and to become both extensions of - and inseparable from - the inspiration itself. 

Close-up of High Pavilion Model (2019-03-03/2019-03-03) by Krittaphat ChuentrakulThe Front Palace: Wang Na

In Situ From Outside: Reconfiguring The Past In- Between The Present

Expanding upon the "Wang Na Nimidt" exhibition (2018) at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center, this exhibition propels the past into contemporary conversations that challenge the conventionally prescriptive role of a museum, and put the viewer -  and their experience - at the center of the story. 

Front-Facing Exhibition View within Isara Winitchai (2019-03-03/2019-03-03) by In Situ from OutsideThe Front Palace: Wang Na

The Venue: The Isara Winitchai Throne Hall

Isara Winitchai—first as a Throne Hall for a Viceroy (Rama III), a Throne Hall for a Second King (Rama IV), a Royal Museum (Rama V) and a National Museum (Rama VII - present)—holds within it multiple historical footprints of varying visibility but of equal importance, all of which still exist onsite. 

Creating "In Situ" at Isara Winitchai (2019-04-22) by Sirikitiya JensenThe Front Palace: Wang Na

In Situ from Outside aims to deconstruct the concept of history as an exclusively fixed and inherently linear construct, and through both format and content-with, a focus on process and relationships-it inspires meaningful dialogue with the multiple stories of the site itself.

Suanplu Chorus Performs within Isara Winitchai Throne Hall (2019-03-03/2019-03-03) by Srisuphat SatiansriThe Front Palace: Wang Na

The Concept
Contemporary artists and multi-disciplinary experts were invited to examine the passage of time in the site and the subjective experience of history, and to creatively respond to the layers of time and history that lay dormant within the physical structures of the former Front Palace.

Performance of "One Million Years" on March 22, 2019 (2019-03-22/2019-03-22) by On KawaraThe Front Palace: Wang Na

In Situ
Looking at the past and reading it as a living process, history is treated as living material. This exhibition produces in situ works that encompass both performative and temporal pieces with the viewer at the center, allowing for each of the objects and artefacts to breathe and float in a shared present space. Each work reveals the building and time passing by, temporally connecting the past to the present in a newly reminisced context.

Contemporary Artwork within Isara Winitchai Throne Hall (2019-03-03/2019-03-03)The Front Palace: Wang Na

Contemporary Art

Taking inspiration from conceptual artist On Kawara’s philosophy of temporality and the understanding of time as a human construct, this exhibition is premised on the idea that an individual’s perception of time and space is “shaped by cultural contexts and personal experiences.” The main Throne Hall housed work by contemporary visual artists inspired by the multiple ‘ghost’ layers of history that lie within the site, encouraging the visitor to explore the idea of temporality and to examine their own understanding of the fluidity of the time-space relationship.

Plum Blossoms within the Mural Art of Buddhaisawan Chapel (2019-03-03/2019-03-03) by Wisanu ChoonhachindaThe Front Palace: Wang Na

In the Thai context, this idea of multiple and co-existing narratives is not new: The mural paintings in Wang Na’s Bhuddhaisawan Chapel narrate stories of the life of the Buddha, in which events—separated in time and place—are composed within a single frame.

This idea that narratives and perspectives need not be depicted independently or linearly, is one that also inspired the Cubist masters of the early twentieth century. And so, Isara Winitchai reminds us that our human stories—our varied perspectives of events in time—necessarily coexist just as much in our history as they do to our everyday.

////////, 2 0 1 9 (2019-03-06/2019-04-28) by Tanatchai BandasakThe Front Palace: Wang Na

History in Flux

Inspired by the transformations of the site, some of our artists addressed the contemporary concept of history as an ever-evolving entity, one that is perennially in-flux, continually absorbing stories even within the people around it in the present. 

////////, 2 0 1 9 (2019-03-06/2019-04-28) by Tanatchai BandasakThe Front Palace: Wang Na

Tanatchai Bandasak
////////, 2019
16 mm film, 2.39 mins, silent loop 2.39 mins with interval 0.45 mins

Tanatchai Bandasak produced a 16 mm film that follows the work of a gardener at the National Theatre—a building that was formerly a part of the Front Palace. Viewers watch the gardener’s hands as he purposely cuts the plant seedlings out from the gaps between concrete paving blocks, from one gap to another. The artist sees this act of using the gap in between as a repetitive touch that reflects the constant renewal of surface skin, similar to human skin. Tanatchai thought of sliced ground revealing various geologic layers, allowing us to explore past histories: The structure of an object may itself rarely change, but the surface becomes an integral part of the exploration and the visibility of the historical essence.

Tanatchai Bandasak (b.1984)
Tanatchai is interested in the relationship between space-time and our perception of it. His works usually arise from a series of coincidences he finds in his everyday life. Events, acts and objects arouse his curiosity, making him question his experience and leads to “breaking down the event” to discover the relationship and cause of incidents.

EIKI Film Projector (2019-03-06/2019-04-28) by Tanatchai BandasakThe Front Palace: Wang Na

Through his experience and contemplation, he transforms and passes on these discoveries, through a variety of media, such as moving image, photography, and three-dimensional objects, allowing the realisation of existence.

Fourteen, 2 0 1 9 (2019-03-06/2019-04-28) by Udomsak KrisanamisThe Front Palace: Wang Na

Udomsak Krisanamis
Fourteen, 2019
15 pieces of acrylic on paper
dimension variables

Isara Winitchai connects Udomsak with the interior architectural structure of churches and cathedrals and he was reminded of the fourteen Stations of the Cross or the Way of the Cross, referring to a series of images depicting Jesus Christ on the day of his crucifixion and typically comes in the form of small plaques or paintings, placed around a church’s or cathedral’s nave.

Udomsak works with found materials, creating the possibility of how we read and understand each object. The works share the visual perception, between the revealing and the attempt of concealment of its surface, unfolding the falling state and at the same time, the commencement and the fulfilling moment. Udomsak’s belief, faith and perceptual attachment reflecting his existence, living, death and time that continually moves. Udomsak’s works appear as a second layer of skin to the building that is constantly in flux reflecting a physical condition of which each person has shared experience.

Fourteen, 2 0 1 9 (2019-03-06/2019-04-28) by Udomsak KrisanamisThe Front Palace: Wang Na

Udomsak Krisanamis (b.1966)

Udomsak’s practice has long been characterised by his specific use of collage, creating obsessive pattern made from newspaper, noodles, cellophane and paint.

Over the past two decades Udomsak’s work has maintained a distinct formal and conceptual clarity, offering a unique experimentation with the well-worn territories of grid. While his paintings refuse to adhere to any particular context or obvious narrative, his imagery has undergone certain key transitions. Earlier paintings comprise of densely layered textured grids.

Fourteen, 2 0 1 9 (2019-03-06/2019-04-28) by Udomsak KrisanamisThe Front Palace: Wang Na

Viewed in detail, these works shift between the worldly and otherworldly, the sublime and everyday. More recently, this intricate detail has been replaced by bold, reductive statements of monochrome colours such as hazard orange and fluorescent yellow, the surface of which is built up from wedges of found material embedded between layers of acrylic paint and paper.

2.2.1 8 6 1, 2 0 0 9 - ongoing (2019-03-06/2019-04-28) by Danh VoThe Front Palace: Wang Na

Danh Vo
2.2.1861, 2009 - ongoing
Ink on paper, 29.6 x 21 cm

Danh Vo presents his ongoing work on paper 2.2.1861 in which he has asked his own father, who has beautiful handwriting skills, to transcribe the last farewell letter of Saint Jean-Théophane Vénard, a French missionary in Vietnam, to his father in 1861. Danh Vo’s father, Phung Vo cannot read French, but his elegant handwriting forms a beautiful transcription of this emotional letter from son to father. Through this process, the work links to the artist’s own relationship with his father. The transcriptions of the letter poetically describe loss and departure, along with faiths and beliefs, reflecting the history of subsistence and conditions in other places.

Danh Vo (b.1975)

Through a body of personal work inspired also by historical and political events, Danh Vo probes into the inheritance and construction of cultural conflicts, traumas, and values. When Vo was a child, his family fled Vietnam and settled in Denmark: their assimilation to European culture and the political events that prompted their flight are intrinsic to his artistic investigations. His work sheds light on the relation between the inseparable elements that shape our sense of self, both through collective history and private experience.

Exhibiting objects based on the ready-made principle is a characteristic artistic strategy of Danh Vo; through objects charged with symbolism that retains the sublimated desire and sadness of individuals and entire cultures, he examines how meaning changes with context. Danh Vo's work, enigmatic and poetic, deftly avoids didacticism as he explores the power structures behind liberal societies and the fragility of our nation-state notions.

On Kawara's 'One Million Years' Within Isara Winitchai (2019-03-03/2019-03-03) by Pakon MusikaboonlertThe Front Palace: Wang Na

Language and Memory

The following artists explore how language impacts and shapes our memories, and cultivates our perceptions of the past and present

One Million Years, Past (2019-03-03/2019-03-03) by On KawaraThe Front Palace: Wang Na

On Kawara
One Million Years
Set of 2 volumes - 14.4x10.5cm each volume-2012 pages per volume - Total of 4024 pages
Courtesy of Mfc-Michèle Didier, Paris and One Million Years Foundation

On Kawara’s One Million Years was specially selected for this exhibition. The set of two books include the first volume, Past – For all those who have lived and died, starts in 998031 BC and ends in 1969 AD, namely One Million Years later.

One Million Years, Future (2019-03-06/2019-04-28) by On KawaraThe Front Palace: Wang Na

At this date starts the One Million Years in the œuvre of On Kawara, transcribed here for this edition on 2000 pages. The second volume, Future – For the last one, starts in 1993 AD and ends One Million Years later, in 1001992. This period is equally transcribed for the edition on 2000 pages.

Performance of "One Million Years" (2019-03-31/2019-03-31) by On KawaraThe Front Palace: Wang Na

The text of each page is laid out in 10 columns, rigorously aligned and subdivided in 5 blocks of 100 years. Each block contains 10 lines and each line contains a decennium. The two volumes of the book correspond, their internal organization is identical. At the request of the artist, portions of the books have been read aloud in locations around the world including for this exhibition in Bangkok.

One Million Years (2019-03-06/2019-04-28) by On KawaraThe Front Palace: Wang Na

On Kawara (1933 Kariya,Japan - 2014 New York)

For over five decades On Kawara examined chronological time. His artistic practice was characterized by an approach to conception of time, space, and consciousness. One of his most important projects, "One Million Years" comprises One Million Years [Past]", which was dedicated to "all those who have lived and died," and "One Million Years [Future]", addressed to "the last one.

Unclock, 2 0 1 9 (2019-03-06/2019-04-28) by Pratchaya PhinthongThe Front Palace: Wang Na

Pratchaya Phinthong
unclock, 2019
Watchman clock paper roll, size 1 cm x uncertain length, recorded date, hour, minute and indication number (1 Foreigners 2 Thais) who received a free pass to the museum.
Courtsey of gb agency, Paris

Derived from the question of how different languages function through times, and how words are always a key to visualise history. Pratchaya realises his work through a performative act, in the form of a code of behaviour. Every day a keyword or a phrase is created for a performer to communicate to visitors and used as a free pass to the museum when a visitor conveys the keyword to the ticket office.

Pratchaya Phinthong's Performer Communicates Keyword(Blurred out) (2019-03-03/2019-03-03) by Pratchaya PhinthongThe Front Palace: Wang Na

The happened transmitted languages or dialogues will be recorded in a form of a trace of time that constantly moves throughout the exhibition period. This trace of time appears in the exhibition space reflecting both the visibility and the unperceived of the past event and the future.

Pratchaya’s work connects and creates the shifting between individuals, time and languages that lays the various prospects of history accessible and generating different ways to memorise these stories.

Unclock, 2 0 1 9 (2019-03-06/2019-04-28) by Pratchaya PhinthongThe Front Palace: Wang Na

Pratchaya Phinthong (b.1974) is an alchemist of economic value and social functions. Perhaps, we can describe him as a trader who operates according to logic opposite to that of profit, and who deals in cultural and value systems, dealing in everyday meanings, hopes, and conflicts.

Pratchaya accepts the perpetual transformation of forms and politics, of existence and daily life, poetically transferring the metaphor of fluctuation in currency values to various areas of human action. Pratchaya’s works often arise from the confrontation between different social, economic or geographical systems. They are the result of a dialogue, and bring all their poetic forces from an almost invisible artistic gesture.

Close-up of nonexistent bodies are spherical, 2 0 1 9 (2019-03-06/2019-04-28) by Nipan OranniwesnaThe Front Palace: Wang Na

Challenging the Role of Museums 

Introducing a dialogue between the audience and the artwork, and emphasizing history's capacity to be powerful in its interactivity, these artists have sought to place the viewer at the center  and morphed the means through which history is experienced, challenging the traditionally prescriptive role of museums

nonexistent bodies are spherical, 2 0 1 9 (2019-03-03/2019-03-03) by Nipan OranniwesnaThe Front Palace: Wang Na

Nipan Oranniwesna
'nonexistent bodies are spherical', 2019

Two curved steel circles with engraved, one in Thai and the other in Laotian, with lyrics from the Rama III-era song ‘Lao Phaen." 65 cm diameter
Mercury ball, (Permanent collection of the National Museum Bangkok) removed from Issares Rajanusorn Mansion to be displayed at Issara Winitchai Throne Hall, Museum’s glass display vitrine.
Glass blowing and grinding (Reproduction of the Mercury ball) size 23.7 x 23.7 x 48.4 cm displayed at Issares Rajanusorn Mansion, National Museum Bangkok

Nonexistent bodies are spherical, 2 0 1 9 (2019-03-06/2019-04-28) by Nipan OranniwesnaThe Front Palace: Wang Na

Nipan is interested in the stories of the Front Palace site in its current incarnation as a museum, sourcing inspiration directly from a specific object that literally reflects its history: the Mercury ball (Permanent collection of the National Museum).

The Mercury Ball, sometimes called a gazing ball or butler's ball, was used for decorating the dining room, but also to allow the butler to glance and see if anything was needed by guests who were dining instead of looking directly at them, which was considered bad manners.

Reproduction of Mercury Ball, Displayed in Issares Rajanusorn (2019-03-03/2019-03-03) by Nipan OranniwesnaThe Front Palace: Wang Na

The Mercury Ball was reproduced by Nipan and replaces the original object which will be removed from Issares Rajanusorn Mansion to be displayed in the exhibition space, Isara Winitchai Throne Hall. The appearance and believed function taken from the Mercury ball, reflects the condition and perception between visitors and the artifacts.

nonexistent bodies are spherical, 2 0 1 9 (Lao Version) (2019-03-03/2019-03-03) by Nipan OranniwesnaThe Front Palace: Wang Na

The gazing authorisation given for both visitors and the artifacts reflects on the metaphorical implication of different aspects of historical understanding. The Mercury ball presented creates a dialogue with two curved steel circles with engraved ‘Lao Phaen' lyrics, in the Thai and Lao language. Lao Phaen, an unknown author’s song, talks about the life of Laotians in Thailand during the reign of King Rama III, allowing the possibility of the story to be told and read.

The two objects reflect the relationship of the perceived accessibility of different objects, a different story within a place with specific perceptions.

Curved steel circle with Lao Phaen lyrics, engraved in Laotian

nonexistent bodies are spherical, 2 0 1 9 (Thai Version) (2019-03-03/2019-03-03) by Nipan OranniwesnaThe Front Palace: Wang Na

Nipan Oranniwesna (b.1962)
Nipan works with various social aspects and historical research that accentuate relationship analysis between human and territory, in both psychical and conceptual ideas.

Nipan’s mediums range from painting, sculpture, mixed media, site-specific installation, photography, and video works. His practice delves into personal and collective memories, dealing poetically with spaces, urban cartography and the geo-body of the nation/state.

Nipan is appreciated for his unmistakably distilled and contemplative installations that deal with concepts of home, identity, and displacement. He deals with the perception of the viewer and the space between people and his artwork.

Curved steel circle with Lao Phaen lyrics, engraved in Thai

Untitled (state du miroir / the mirror stage), 2 0 1 9 (2019-03-06/2019-04-28) by Rirkrit TiravanijaThe Front Palace: Wang Na

Rirkrit Tiravanija
Untitled (state du miroir / the mirror stage), 2019 Mobile Application

Rirkrit developed an AR (Augmented Reality) mobile application which interactively operates with “mirror screens” (Permanent collection of the National Museum).

In the past, mirror screens traditionally performed dual functions: spiritually, as a screen to deflect unwelcome spirits; and temporally, as a screen to demarcate private space. With their phones between them and the mirrors, visitors meet the apparent reflection of a fictional character, with an introspective and distinct soliloquy.

AR Mobile Application for Untitled (state du miroir / the mirror stage), 2 0 1 9 (2019-03-06/2019-04-28) by Rirkrit TiravanijaThe Front Palace: Wang Na

Consequently, what is evoked is a relational dynamic—and oftentimes utilitarian ambiance—that focuses on real-time experience and exchange that breaks down the barriers between the object and the spectator, and emphasizes a still rare, public accessibility of official constructs of history.

Untitled (state du miroir / the mirror stage), 2 0 1 9 (2019-03-06/2019-04-28) by Rirkrit TiravanijaThe Front Palace: Wang Na

Rirkrit Tiravanija (b. 1961)
Rirkrit’s work often invites viewers to inhabit and activate his work, showing interest in subverting deeply-ingrained ways of interacting with art. He ignores the prescribed division between art and life, constructing communal environments that offer playful alternative venues for quotidian activities.

The Suanplu Chorus with the Exhibition Director (2019-04-20/2019-04-20) by Decha PalamongkolThe Front Palace: Wang Na

The Suanplu Chorus

Suanplu Chorus rearranged and adapted songs for Isara Winitchai Throne Hall by focusing on the experiential, and the transmission (rather than the prescription) of knowledge, Suanplu Chorus gives the audience the tools to allow them to connect on a deeper level

Suanplu Chorus Performs within Isara Winitchai Throne Hall (2019-04-22) by Suanplu ChorusThe Front Palace: Wang Na

Suanplu Chorus conducted four performances with songs which were adapted for the Throne Hall, including one new in situ composition entitled "Sonoro" which is a product of their personal responses to the site, and how those interact both with the site's history and its acoustics. The result is a song that appears to have been sung by the structure itself, as though it's been given voice: playing off the building's echo, the singers are interwoven with the architectural elements of the site, and their vocal shimmer effect mimics the echo.

Suanplu Chorus Performs within Isara Winitchai (2019-03-03/2019-03-03) by Srisuphat SatiansriThe Front Palace: Wang Na

Suanplu Chorus Performance

The acapella group, Suanplu Chorus, was formed in 2000. The group's management team consists of Dusadee Bhanomyong, Kru Dusas the Managing Director, Dr. Kittiporn Tantrarungroj as the Co-founder, Gaiwal Kulwattanotai as the composer, and Ramon "Bojo" Lijauco Jr. as the conductor.

Suanplu Chorus (360 Video) (2019-04-22) by Suanplu ChorusThe Front Palace: Wang Na

Credits: Story

Project Director: Sirikitiya Jensen

Curatorial Team for "In Situ from Outside": Nathalie Boutin, Sirikitiya Jensen, and Mary Pansanga

Participating Artists:
Tanatchai Bandasak, On Kawara, Udomsak Krisanamis, Nipan Oranniwesna, Pratchaya Phinthong, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Danh Vo

Participating Collaborators:
Jarupatcha Achavasmit, Prapod Assavavirulhakarn, Suanplu Chorus, Sayan Daengklom, Chudaree Debhakam, Suwicha Dussadeewanich, Pongsit Pangsrivongse, Chatri Prakitnonthakarn, Kitichate Sridith, Boontuen Sriworapoj, Supitcha Towiwich, Phra Maha Raja Guru Bidhi Sri Visudhigun, Tul Waitoonkuat & Marmosets

Graphic Design Team: Jaithip Jaidee and Pam Virada

Organized by Fine Arts Department; Ministry of Culture, Thailand

Sponsors: Thai Beverage and Bangkok Bank
Media Partner: The Cloud
Supported by Air France and Samsung

Digital Exhibition Team:
Designer: Dr.Vorapoj Songcharoen
Photographer: Wisanu Choonhachinda
Videographer: Decha Palamongkol
Translator: Koranit Rattanamahattana
Digital Museum Support: Songcharoen Media Group

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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