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Participating Artists: Ho Tzu Nyen (Singapore), Moe Satt (Myanmar), Nattapas Jirasatitwarakul (Thailand), Nguyen Trinh Thi (Vietnam), Patty Chang and David Kelley (Laos), Philip Jablon (Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos), Sompot Chidgasornpong (Thailand), Vandy Rattana (Cambodia) and Wong Hoy Cheong (Malaysia)

Curator: Gridthiya Gaweewong
Assistant Curator: Mary Pansanga

Thailand, a founding member of ASEAN, plans to become part of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015. This year, Thailand will be the host country of the ASEAN meeting. ASEAN has always been more about the working relationships between its member states however there remains a lack of relationships between their general populations and of connections on a person to person basis between the various ASEAN nations. In view of these regional social developments the Jim Thompson Art Center (JTAC) is working proactively on the ASEAN artistic and cultural front. JTAC is arranging to bring together works by artists from the region for an exhibition at its Art Center in Bangkok from 12 July to 31 October, 2012. This show aims to reinvestigate the socio-cultural history of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) before the region moves on to the next stage. The show explores perceptions of the social memory and reinvestigates the communal history shared in the region. The goal is to help member countries understand our position/location and relationship within the Southeast Asian region in view of ASEAN.

Born out of a common fear of communism and with the full support of the United States, ASEAN was established in 1967 by the governments of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. In 1969, during the third ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Malaysia's Cameron Highlands, the members formally focused on encouraging social and cultural cooperation. Looking ahead to the future, ASEAN recognizes the potential for regional collaboration to enhance its economy and cultural diversity, one that shares common historical threads that can help build an ASEAN identity. Today, all 10 member states are actively seeking to promote ASEAN awareness and a sense of community. They share the objectives to preserve and promote ASEAN cultural heritage, encourage cultural creativity and industry and to engage and interact with local communities.

Over the years, ASEAN members have shifted from a political alliance to an economic alliance. The aim is now to have more of a triangular collaboration by adding socio-cultural dimensions to member countries. As a retrospective to the 1969 meeting, the members plan to revisit the original agenda, seeking collaboration with each other for art and cultural activities. Operating as a private foundation with the mission to support and promote art and culture in Thailand and Southeast Asia, the Jim Thompson Art Center would like to take on this vision and help develop a collaborative channel on the grassroots level. We hope that this exhibition will be the starting point for Thais and for other ASEAN members to discover their mutual history, both from vertical and horizontal standpoints. This project is intended to underscore the idea that we should be open to learning from each other by using exhibitions as platforms for ASEAN member artists to share information, exchange dialogue and collaborate on several levels.

TRACES History is about forgetting and remembering. It should be revisited and reinvestigated. This exhibition, TRACES, is a video art and photography exhibition that reinvestigates social memory in Southeast Asia. It aims to serve as a mechanism and platform for Thais and ASEAN members to learn about the history of Southeast Asia, ASEAN and neighboring countries through contemporary artworks and sociological research done by artists and researchers. It focuses on issues related to social memory, the public sphere and also reinvestigation of the history of the Vietnam–American war, as well as the Singaporean and Malaysian nation building processes. The exhibition has been created to help us to get to know each other and our history through contemporary art, to help us understand who we are and to see the communal sense of Southeast Asia, so we can continue our collaboration in the future. This exhibition intends to raise questions about Southeast Asia’s sensus communis. What do we have in common? What kind of communal senses have we shared since the last century or before? What kind of history and social memory do we still retain? What did we forget, remember, question? It will reinvestigate social space and public memory, history and how individuals have reacted to stagnant society as well as to social changes. Works range from photography, research-based projects, video documentary and mockumentary by 10 artists from Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia and the USA.

The show is divided into three parts and includes exhibits related to ‘social space and public memory’. Photography by Philip Jablon focuses on the decline of Thailand’s (and Southeast Asia’s) stand-alone movie theaters and the contradiction of the urban common spaces. Sompot Chidgasornpong’s video ‘Bangkok in the evening’ asking us to question and look more closely at our daily routines such as standing still to pay respect to the national anthem. Nattapas Jirasatitwarakul’s photography ‘school uniforms’ considers a school requirement which serves to reduce the differences between students and standardize them as one unit. Vandy Rattana’s photography ‘Bomb Ponds’ deals with the Cambodian rural landscapes that were the most severely bombed by the U.S military during the Vietnam War, creating documents that elucidate the hidden realities of contemporary Cambodian existence.

Wong Hoy Cheong’s video work ‘ReLooking’ addresses the ‘historic re-investigation of issues related to post-colonialism and post-Vietnam war’. The work stages a fictional history about a colonial power emerging in the story as a Malaysia kingdom taking over Austria. Ho Tzu Nyen’s video work ‘Utama – Every Name in History is I’, is a genre-blending mixture of fiction and documentary about the founding of Singapore and Nguyen Trinh Thi’s video work ‘Chronicle of a Tape Recorded Over’ records the stories and testimonies of the ordinary people who lived along the Ho Chi Minh Trail during the Vietnam War.

Paradigm shift and self-negotiating’ are the focus of Patty Chang and David Kelley’s video work ‘Route 3’ which is a road film of sorts – considering in spatial terms – as a stage for current events - the role of the new road recently built to establish a trade route between China, Laos and Thailand. Photography and video by Moe Satt, Burmese artist, ’F n' F (Face & Fingers)’ plays with ideas of the meaningful and meaningless.

Educational Programs
A video art and photography exhibition reinvestigates social memory in Southeast Asia

To provide an in-depth understanding of the Southeast Asian history, Jim Thompson Art Center invites interested person to join educational programs for free.

Topic: Artist Talk
Participated artists will speak about their works which situated in each social political and cultural context, followed by a question & answer session with the audience.
Speaker: Wong Hoy Cheong (Malaysia), Moe Satt (Myanmar),
Nattapas Jirasatitwarakul (Thailand), Sompot Chidgasornpong (Thailand)
Moderator: Vipash Purichanont
Date: Saturday, 14 July 2012
Time: 14.00-17.00 hrs
Venue: William Warren Library

Topic: Screening and Talk
Talk with Nontawat Numbenchapol, the mastermind behind many thought-provoking documentary films; the program is accompanied by a screening of Cambodian short films.
Speaker: Nontawat Numbenchapol
Date: Saturday, 11 August 2012
Time: 14.00-17.00 hrs
Venue: William Warren Library

Topic: How Artists Work in Southeast Asia
Discover how Southeast Asian artists work and create new ideas with Dr. Amporn Jirattikorn lecturer from the Department of Social Sciences and Development, Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiangmai University.
Speaker: Dr. Amporn Jirattikorn
Date: Saturday, 1 September 2012
Time: 14.00-17.00 hrs
Venue: William Warren Library

Topic: Artist Talk
Participated artists will speak about their works which situated in each social political and cultural context, followed by a question & answer session with the audience.
Speaker: Nguyen Trinh Thi from Honoi Doc Lab, Vietnam
Date: Saturday, 20 October 2012
Time: 14.00-17.00 hrs
Venue: William Warren Library

This exhibition is made possible with the support of The James H.W. Thompson Foundation, Bloom Pro Lab & Studio and The Thai Silk Company Limited (Jim Thompson).

For more information, please contact:
The Jim Thompson Art Center
Tel. 02-612-6741 or 080-117-8911
Fax. 02 219 2911
E-mail: pr_artcenter@jimthompsonhouse.com

Sabina Ahuja
Tel: 02-204-8242 or 081-733-7355

Piyaporn Chullapushpa
Tel: 02-204-8217 or 086-772-3773