Jim Thompson Art Center, Bangkok (TH)

16.02.2023 – 16.04.2023

Stephanie Damiantisch (AT)

In his works, Austrian-based artist Kay Walkowiak put into question the fundamentals of the Western tradition and the liberal-capitalist world. In the face of the current worldwide social conflicts, resulting from global warming, pandemics, and capitalist power play, this could also be seen also as a political approach – an approach that forms the center of the exhibition project Utopia Now.

Evolving around the idea of the utopian, the works presented in the exhibition act as projection screens that invite to think about possible alternatives for the way we interact with the world and our fellow humans. They propose a shift of emphasis from individualism to consider new forms of coexistence, collaboration, and, therefore also democracy. The central work of the exhibition is the film Neon Ghost, in which one accompanies a ghost embodied by the actor and performance artist Teerawat Kage Mulvilai as he explores various dilapidated or abandoned places in Bangkok. Central institutions of capitalist society – be it department stores, airplanes, or cinemas – appear like resonances of their demise and thus their negation. By irritating the familiar, which is presented as past and decayed, the film invites us to think about an alternative future worth fighting for.

The idea of the projection "screen" that opens up an imaginary space for thinking about future concepts of the world and by that becoming a political instrument, connects all the works in the exhibition. Whether it is the work Fundamental Values, a series of protest banners, showing abstract geometric forms that can be individually charged with meaning by the viewers. Or the works Encounters and Drifters that extend the topic of future justice also to non-human life forms and therefore underlining that current utopias should also revolve around figures of thought of interconnectedness and around a relational understanding of the nature-culture constellation.

This exhibition was produced in collaboration with Phileas.

Text: Stephanie Damiantisch, Bangkok 2023
Photos: (c) Studio Kay Walkowiak