Songs for dying / Songs for living
Songs for dying / Songs for living is Korakrit Arunanondchai’s first institutional solo exhibition in Switzerland and the first to present the artist’s two most recent videos Songs for dying (2021) and Songs for living (created in collaboration with Alex Gvojic, 2021) together. With video installations, an extensive painting and objects, the exhibition creates atmospheric spaces of storytelling.
Birth, decreation, and death are thresholds of heightened consciousness from which Korakrit Arunanondchai generates his storytelling and formal inquiries. Through video, painting, and installation, the artist processes personal experiences while probing their sociohistorical contingencies. The intricate codependency of these forms asks fundamental questions regarding existence and meaning, especially when understood outside of a Western ontological framework.
In Songs for dying / Songs for living, Arunanondchai has divided up the exhibition space into three interconnected acts: each one speaks to a transformative potential which catalyzes the others. Departing from the loss of his grandfather, the artist unfolds stories that carry the idea of self and the community into the space of the unknowable. Ghosts, shamans, and a dying sea turtle are not only metaphors but also the mediums from which processes of becoming and decomposition must pass through. In these stories, rich in mythological references and symbols, Arunanondchai simultaneously takes up social and political realities of life in Thailand, which is characterized by military rule, monarchy, and pro-democracy protests. Songs shape the arc of the exhibition, which lead the audience through a polyphonic narrative in which events are testified to the emotional and transcendent impulses of peoples, nations, and beings living under the symbols of higher powers.
Korakrit Arunanondchai (b. Bangkok, Thailand, 1986) lives and works in New York and Bangkok. Recent solo exhibitions include: Kunsthall Trondheim (2021), Serralves Museum, Porto (2020), Secession, Vienna (2019) and Kasseler Kunstverein, Kassel (2018). Arunanondchai’s work has been presented at numerous biennials and festivals, with recent presentations at the Gwangju Biennial (2021), Yokohama Triennial (2020), the Venice Biennale (2019) and the Whitney Biennial (2019).
The exhibition Songs for dying / Songs for living is realized in co-production with the Kunstverein in Hamburg and is on view in Hamburg from December 4, 2021. It 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.
For parents and guardians: The content of the videos in the exhibition by Korakrit Arunanondchai might be disturbing.