Songs for dying / Songs for living
At its core, Korakrit Arunanondchai’s (b. Bangkok, Thailand, 1986) artistic practice explores fundamental questions of life, meaning, and community. Arunanondchai brings together video works, sculptures, and paintings in installations that occupy and transform spaces with narratives between reality and fiction. The artist interweaves events in his personal environment with the social and political, with stories and speculation. Various contexts can be at play in this process: from Thailand’s reality between military rule, monarchy, and pro-democracy protests to technologization, non-human ways of life, and spirituality. The artist’s practice, however, always remains grounded in essential and partly metaphysical questions around existence. From there, Arunanondchai delves into the challenging complexity of our globalized, crisis-ridden present. In Songs for dying / Songs for living, his first institutional solo exhibition in Switzerland, Korakrit Arunanondchai focuses on existential experiences more explicitly than before. Confronted with the loss of his own grandfather, the artist unfolds thoughts on the cosmological origin of the world and its cycles of life and death, growth and decomposition. In atmospheric environments, the exhibition weaves together stories of grief, transformation, and spiritual power. Its narrative pull leads into imaginative spaces in which new perspectives on life and its potential forms emerge.
Songs for dying / Songs for living is curated by Heike Munder (director, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst); she was assisted by Viktor Hömpler (trainee, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst). The exhibition is realized in co-production with the Kunstverein in Hamburg and is the first to present the artist’s two most recent videos Songs for dying and Songs for living (both 2021) together. With sculptures and paintings, the videos form site-specific installations. Songs for living is a collaboration with artist Alex Gvojic and produced as a new commissioned work for the exhibitions in Zurich and Hamburg. The video Songs for dying was commissioned by the Gwangju Biennale in South Korea, Kunsthall Trondheim, and the Han Nefkens Foundation and presented for the first time at the Gwangju Biennale and Kunsthall Trondheim in 2021.
The exhibition Songs for dying / Songs for living is accompanied by the most comprehensive publication to date on Korakrit Arunanondchai’s practice, jointly produced by the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, the Kunstverein in Hamburg, and the Museo Serralves in Porto on the occasion of three solo exhibitions at the institutions between 2020 and 2022. As an extension of his practice, it is realized in close collaboration with the artist and features an experimental design. The book brings together new essays on Korakrit Arunanondchai by Chrissie Iles (curator, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York) and May Adadol Ingawanij (professor of cinematic arts, University of Westminster, London). In addition, a conversation between the filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Arunanondchai (moderated by the film programmer and critic Mark Peranson) and a discussion between Arunanondchai, Heike Munder (director, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst) and Bettina Steinbrügge (director, Kunstverein in Hamburg) will provide insights into the artist’s practice and thinking.
The exhibition will be on view at the Kunstverein in Hamburg from December 4, 2021 until February 20, 2022.