photos by Prum Bandiddh
Aura Contemporary Foundation's curatorial practice team, Production Zomia will participate Thailand Biennale Chaing Rai 2023: The Open World as below;
〈 ZOMIA IN THE CLOUD〉
Ongoing project launched at Thailand Biennale, December 2023 to April 2024
Production Zomia was formed in 2021 as a network of artists, curators, researchers and other arts professionals in Asia. Recent activities include organizing “Zomi:Trans-local Migrants on the Water - Contemporary Art from the Mekong Region"" (2021, Semba Excel Building, Osaka, Japan), “Anarco-Animism”(2022, Reborn Art Festival, Miyagi, Japan) and “Orange Mandala” (2022, Kinan Art Week, Wakayama, Japan). The term ""Zomia"" refers to the mountainous regions of mainland Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar) after the Tibetan and Myanmarese word "Zomi" (highlander). Zomia is characterized by dispersion/migration and oral traditions, escaping any form of state control such as taxation, military service, slavery, etc. They are also a people who believe in animism and live in an egalitarian society. Based on the nature of the Zomi, we produce exhibitions and projects in various places and forms.
Production Zomia proposes a project to engage with the people and natural creatures that have lived in the region where Thailand / Laos / Myanmar border adjoins. Although they have formed a fluid and vibrant life through their ecosystem over a long period of time, their territory has been eroded recently by state power and global economic development. As a result, the number of ethnic minorities, refugees, and others forced to leave their homes and move to other parts of the world has been increasing each year.
See the report by UNHCR. We believe that art can liberate, affirm, and empower individuals in solidarity, and that hoping to deliver it to the people in difficult circumstances.
We will therefore create a platform for exhibition activities at various locations run by NGOs and other organizations that support refugees, ethnic minorities, education, and welfare activities near Chiang Rai and some other areas in Asia. We will announce the project on our website, grant access to organizations that wish to participate, and allow them to freely select works (paintings, photographs, videos, etc.) created by multiple artists to be exhibited at any location they deem necessary, free of charge. No gallery or dedicated exhibition facility is required. They can find appropriate spaces in schools, libraries, hospitals, assembly halls, etc., and have their works installed, screened, and placed there. In this way, the works should meet a different audience than the usual visitors, people who are in oppressive and unequal situations and need liberation and solidarity.
This is also a tribute, 20 years later, to Utopia Station, which was launched in 2003 as a project to envision a different kind of society at the time of the rise of new imperialism after 9/11.
At the same time, an art space in the city will be used as a venue (Singhaklai House) to make these works available to regular Biennial viewers with the Aura Contemporary Art Foundation's collection and newly commissioned artworks.
Participating Artists for Cloud Exhibition:
Irwan Ahmett & Tita Salina, Aung Myat Htay, Mech Choulay, Montika Kham-on, Hirose Satoshi, Be Takerng Pattanopas, Piyarat Piyapongwiwat, Quynh Dong, Kano Tetsuro, AWAYA, Khvay Samnang, Ngoc Nau, Souliya Phoumivong, Lyno Vuth, Lim Sokchanlina, Som Supaparinya, Maung Day, bacili, Ri, Shwe Wutt Hmon, Ting-Tong Chang, Tuan Mami
"Noises Are Too Close Here" is a photographic installation with simultaneous sonic soundscape, blending analog photography with scanner-generated images to portray the experience of noise being too close within an intimate environment. This is an individual's journey from the unfamiliarity of the ecological realm to forming a deep connection with migrating nature, visually unfolding amidst intricate nuances of flora and fauna of a tropical garden. These images are a narrative of personal closeness and meticulous observation of nature's nuances, revealing intricate elements from archival materials showing pressing environmental deterioration in northern Thailand and Myanmar, all of which I call home.
Shwe Wutt Hmon is a Burmese photographer and mixed media artist, living and working in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Shwe’s works focus on collective histories, familial ties, knots and threads of human relationship and exploring the inner psyche through intimate storytelling about people and places dear to her heart. She tells personal stories from which she connects and examines broader social aspects; vice versa she works on social documentaries reflecting and drawing from her own position within the issue. Shwe uses photography as her main medium and incorporates archives, videos, texts, poems, paintings and drawings of her own or collaborating with others. Shwe is the recipient of respected art and photography awards including the Objectifs Documentary Award 2020 (Open Category) and the inaugural Julius Baer Next Generation Art Prize in 2021. Her works have been exhibited internationally in art festivals and spaces such as Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Aichi Triennale, Singapore International Photography Festival, Photo Australia International Festival of Photography, ArtScience Museum Singapore, Bangkok Art & Culture Centre and Photoforum Pasquart.
“Is it sweet like honey?”
Freedom is something entirely else for me. I am a queer woman from a country with war. I don’t want to be dramatic. But there is nothing close to being free for me, my family, friends or my country. But I want to taste it. Is it sweet like honey? Is it beautiful?
Is it like heaven?... - Ri
Ri is a queer photographer based in Myanmar and is a co-founder of a Renowned anonymous Art Collective. Her stories are entrenched upon being part of a community, queerhood, and intimate relationships. Aside from this, she works with visual poems, landscapes, and stories that have a connection to her country’s complex political situations.
He uses folktales and myths, a notion of locomotion in archive pictures to multiply like a patchwork. He has always been interested in the intersection of art and anthropology by means of art and observations of socio-cultural phenomena. In this work he expresses the shadows of Zomi people who fled from their home mountain land across the sea. They have lived in nature with its blessings and calamities. Wisdom that avoids elimination and purification and does not form a single centre that creates a mixed relationship between animals, plants, inorganic matter, and spirits, and controls movement/dispersion, escaping from slavery, military service, taxation, etc. by the state. Smart travellers, their community (kuni) exists in the depths of the hearts of people living today, and it makes us feel nostalgia and admiration.
Aung Myat Htay is an artist and independent curator. He was born in Upper Myanmar and graduated in 1998 with a BFA in Sculpture from the University of Art & Culture in Yangon. He expresses social messages with work that combines a contemporary sense. He is also known as a writer/curator in Myanmar’s art community since 2005. His works include photography, moving image, installation, and even participatory public art. His works have been shown at various locations in Asia, Europe and the US including Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, SYLT Foundation in Germany, and Osaka Kansai International Art Festival 2023. He was an ACC Grantee Artist for New York Residency in 2014. Besides artistic creations, he is the art writer and founder of SOCA alternative art learning program in Myanmar.
Instinct, intuition, and play are valued skills and disciplines Tith Kanitha has nurtured as strategies of resistance to normative expressions of beauty, productive labor, gender roles and political resistance in Cambodia. Her practice across media provides, in her words, “different ways to breath”, conjuring personal experiences of participation and freedom as they associate with the subconscious and the somatic. Tith’s sculptures are made with thin-gauge steel wire, within which she finds metaphorical relation for its typically “supportive role” as an unseen material that enables connecting and building structures. Through laborious hand-coiling around a thin copper dowel, she amasses great lengths of helical modules that become spring-like, flexible lengths that can stretch, compress, and interlock when wrapped around one another.
In a two-way conversation with her materials, she describes both careful listening and gentle subversion, of finding a flow or falling into drift. Tith’s sculptures often feature as part of her installation and performances. She has long referred to her sculpting process as “drawing with wire”, which has more recently become a double entendre as she often fashions tools of steel wire for her intimate, abstract drawing practice.
Tith Kanitha was born in 1987, Phnom Penh, Cambodia and centers on intuitive processes as she works across media with a focus on sculpture and drawing. Her solo presentations include the performance How Heavy Is Time? at Casco Art Institute, Utrecht (2020) and the exhibition Instinct, SA SA BASSAC, Phnom Penh (2018). Select group exhibitions include 58th Carnegie International, Pittsburg (2022), Singapore Biennale (2022), SUNSHOWER: Southeast Asian Art from 1980s to Today, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2017), and Rescue Archaeology, ifa, Berlin and Stuttgart, Germany (2013). Kanitha was a resident at Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam (2019-2021). She is a member of Anti-Archive film collective in Cambodia.
Kohei uses his own experiences as a starting point for his work about the relationship between people, nature and events. Breathing was inspired by “Kozanji-style earthenware” found at an ancient temple in Kinan/Kumano where he grew up. The spiral earthenware was produced and used in daily life by the Zomi people, who fled their nation via the sea and rivers and came to the Japanese archipelago. It may visualize the layering of prayer, time and wisdom possessed by spirits, gods and the mountainous philosophy of the Zomi world.
Maeda Kohei was born in Wakayama, Japan in 1991, he graduated from Kyoto City University of Arts, Graduate School of Fine Arts, Department of Painting, Conceptual Design in 2017. Projects include “Mandarabo,” which pursues Minakata Kumagusu’s philosophical ideas, and “Takase River Monitoring Club,” which observes the ecology of rivers. Recent exhibitions include "Lit-up Mountain, Astral Foothills" at Aomori Contemporary Art Center(2022), "Kinan Art Week 2021" at Minakata Kumagusu Memorial Museum, and "Gunma Youth Biennale 2021" at Gunma Prefectural Museum of Modern Art.