11th Gwangju Biennale
2. 9. – 6. 11. 2016



Pratchaya Phinthong

A small dark puddle on a white surface is burning. In Pratchaya Phinthong’s (b. 1974, Ubon Ratchathani/Bangkok) photographic work A proposal to set CH4*5.75 H20 on fire (work in progress) we can see burning samples of gas hydrate and a puddle of the same chemical compound, obtained during an expedition on Lake Baikal. Gas hydrate has a solid, ice-like form of water that contains gas molecules, and is an unstable element: it changes its own structure when temperature or pressure changes, depending at which depth it is located. The artist is interested in this type of resource, from which natural gas may be extracted as a replacement for oil. However it is just as pollutant and as unstable as previous fossils fuels, and could incite similar colonial regimes of territorial and material exploitation.

The ethical dilemma between representing the pain of others and finding political ways to change the status quo is still relevant for contemporary artists. The artistic practice of Phinthong is not limited to a representation of an anaesthetized object as a result of his cooperation with other groups of mostly subaltern people – such as Thai workers in Northern Finland – but broadens the prospects of every group he is working with, and shows the complex system of political and economic relations behind it. He investigates the entanglements of social insecurity, economic exchange, and labor, political, and postcolonial issues. His artworks serve to enlarge the social network of marginalized or insecure groups of people, such as a women’s association for victims of terrorism, or Thai farmers – small producers of rice damaged by economic crises. In his exhibitions he presents, for example, some overexposed film, or some chili paste, not to represent misery but to help the groups to expand their economies. AB


Pratchaya Phinthong (b. 1974, Thaïland) lives and works in Bangkok. After completing his BFA at Silapakorn University, he obtained a master’s degree at Staedelschule, Frankfurt, in 2004. Phinthong has had several solo shows in both Europe and Thailand since 2005, the latter being where he realized his traveling project titled Missing Objects at Chula Art University, Bangkok. In 2007 he had his first solo exhibition at gb agency, Paris, titled “If I Dig a Very Deep Hole.”

In 2009 he was invited to CAC Bretigny to participate in a residency and produce the artwork Give more than you take, which later traveled to Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Bergamo; the 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; to “Rethinking of Protocols-Us and/As Institutions,” Times Museum, Guangzhou; and finally “and Materials and Money and Crisis,” Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna. In 2013 he had solo shows at Kiosk, Ghent; lothringer13_halle, Munich; and Chisenhale Gallery, London.

In 2013 he was part of the group exhibitions 9ª Bienal do Mercosul, Porto Alegre; “In the Heart of the Country: The Collection of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw,” Warsaw; and “Zero Performance: The Fragile Beauty of Crisis,” Moscow Biennial, Moscow. In 2012 , his created commissions for “The Monster that is History,” Taipei Biennial, Taipei; dOCUMENTA(13), Kassel; and “The Ungovernables,” New
Museum Triennial, New York.