Warin Lab Contemporary to exhibit at Art SG 2024 – “Mekong’s Vulnerbilities”

For more information please contact

Sukontip Nakasem

Warin Lab Contemporary

Tel: 083 095 2028

E-mail: info@lalanta.com

Warin Lab Contemporary to exhibit at Art SG 2024

“Mekong’s Vulnerbilities”

ubatsat and Nakrob Moonmanas

Booth FR-04

19-21 January 2024

As part of Singapore Art Week 2024, Warin Lab Contemporary is pleased to announce its participation in Southeast Asia’s prominent art fair, Art SG which will be organized at Marina Bay Sands from 19 to 21 January 2024. The gallery will exhibit in Futures Section at booth FR-04 exhibiting new work by 2 promising Thai artists; ubatsat (pseudonym) and Nakrob Moonmanas.

In line with the gallery’s mission to engage the audience with the prevailing environmental issue, Warin Lab Contemporary presents a curatorial project that puts the spotlight on an urgent ecological threat surrounding the Mekong river.

The third longest river in Asia, the Mekong is a trans-boundary river running through Southwest China and 5 countries in Southeast Asia: Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The construction of 28 hydroelectric dams along the Mekong in recent decades causes serious problems for the river’s ecosystem. The threats not only include unseasonal drought and the loss of species native to the area but also the detrimental effect to the livelihood of local communities who live along the river for generations. With such geographical coverage, the Mekong river is an integral part of culture, tradition, and belief that define a large part of Southeast Asia.

The project titled “Mekong’s Vulnerability” presents the work by 2 Thai artists; ubatsat and Nakrob Moonmanas. Both of them creates a new body of work especially for Art SG presentation.

ubatsat is an artist and activist from Chiangmai. In this exhibition, he continues to materialize the result of his on-field research on the disruption brought upon by mega dams. The invasive development threatens to blast extensive area of rock formation in the Mekong river where ridges, sandbanks, and rocky areas house various sub-ecosystems native to the river. The biodiversity of 1,200 freshwater species as well as flora and fauna are at their fragile stage.

ubatsat will present a series of newly created semi-abstract paintings depicting visuals of 11 different sub-ecosystems in the Mekong River.

Nakrob Moonmanas looks at Mekong’s vulnerability through the lens of culture. The ancient river nourishes millions of lives as well as enriches them spiritually by providing ground for long standing history – a place where the identity flourishes. His artwork presents the intangible component of the river that substantially constitutes heritage and tradition in Asia’s sub-region.

Nakrob follows traces local folklores originated in the Mekong Delta with reference to political turmoil that happened in this region. Best known for the art practice that fuses fragments of history with current iconography, Nakrob will present art installation of found objects as well as a series of limited editioned prints of digital collages. Nakrob offers contemporary narratives to the historical records while discussing the issue at hand.

Images description

Artist: ubatsat

Title: The Study of Khon Pi Luang

Size: 27.5 x 38 cm (or 40 x 52 cm with frame)

Number of artwork: 11

Medium: Acrylic and stencil on paper

An elderly anonymous poet is travelling along the Mekong River with local villages while reciting the story of the King of Fish who swam against the current and went up to pay homage to the statue of Buddha’s footstep at the source of water in the Himalayas. The poet lets his imagination flow with the path of rapids and rocks in the Mekong River. Each submerged rock has its name in accordance with its role in the ecosystem in various seasons. These are formation of volcanic rocks from millions of years ago which have become the home and shelter of fishes and other lives. This natural home is about to be destroyed from the building of mega dams to block the water. The elderly poet prophesies about the future. “When the sacred rocks are destroyed, people will be homeless, animal lives will be loss. The ecosystem will be perished…”

Artist: Nakrob Moonmanas

Title: The Saga of the Lord of the Toads

Size: 65 x 300 cm (Triptych 65×100 cm each)

Medium: Digital collage, print on metal

This newly created artwork is a result of Nakrob’s reflection on the identity from his father’s side as a family of farmers in Roi Et Province in the Northeast region of Thailand (aka Isan). When he was a child, before bedtime, his dad often recited the Isaan folk tales, especially the stories of Phaya Khakkak and the story of Kong Khao Noi killing his mother. The violence in these stories has always stuck in the artist’s mind. He sees that these two tales are also connected to the countless political stories and power negotiations that have occurred on this plateau.

In this artwork, Nakrob composes the narratives of Phaya Khakkak. Kong Khao Noi killing his mother and fragments of other folk tales while making the references to the memories of politics and violence in the Isan region. The political incidents include the rebellion against the state ideology of the Phi Bun Rebellion (1901-1902), the violence committed by the state against the Martyrs of Song Khon (1940) as well as the case of the murder of 4 Isan ministers (1949-1952). This is a wound in Thai history caused by the conflict between the ideology of the central state as the ruler and the local government as the ruled.

The artist portrays the image of Isan people who are steadfast in what they stand for, like martyrs in Christianity. Combined with images of various magical phenomena in Buddhism, which originate from Animism – a belief that existed in this area. Reflecting the Surrealism and Magical Realism characteristics of folk tales interspersed with memories of turmoil that once happened in this land. The artwork intends to tell some chapters in history that were erased and forgotten.

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