Bangkok, Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020 – MOCA BANGKOK in a first collaboration with Nova Contemporary sponsored by Samsung Thailand in exhibiting represented artist Kawita Vatanajyankur. The exhibition “Domesticated” will showcase ten video works that were created between 2013-2020.
Vatanajyankur’s ten video works are based on the close observation of activities related to domestic labor, reflecting the physical pain and senselessness of mundane tasks in everyday life. Her experience during state-mandated quarantine under the constraints of the Pandemic served to intensify her observations surrounding this subject matter. In her works her own body undergoes several physical as well as aesthetic experiments that painfully challenge the limits of her human body, providing the viewer a spectacle that is paradoxically uncomfortable to observe, while being unavoidably compelling at the same time. Despite appearing to express the subservient role that women play in society, Vatanajyankur’s intention is to instead demonstrate the much more complex nuances and layers that exist with regards to female identity in relation to their surroundings.
Soaked (2013) is at the entrance of the museum hiding under the escalator and Toilet (2020) is located in front of the museum toilet for the viewer to relate themselves with the video works. The Scale 2 (2015) Vatanajyankur is hooked up to a wire through her body, and suspended by robes that pull her up away from the rice pouring onto her body. The Robe (2014) is an early work that she uses her body as a piece of cloth. She wants to hang herself down from the robe. The Lift (2015), Vatanajyankur is hooked up to wire through her body, and suspended by ropes that pull her up and down from the basket of papaya, and in The Squeezers (2015), she squeezed the oranges with her mouth. These images allude to the everyday domesticated household activity during the quarantine period. With her eyes shut and expression solid, she performs repeated motions familiar to the routine in the house. Poured (2013) is an early work showing a similar motion focus on her facial expression. Her recent work, Sponge (2020), the repeating action of scrubbing grease out of dirty dishes was delivered out of her daily shore during the city lockdown. These works are bright and colorful, distinctive to the artist’s aesthetic, tapping into a globalized and digitally networked visual language of consumption and instant gratification that often fronts these industries.
The notion of labor is not new to Vatanajyankur’s practice, as she has undertaken similar strenuous physical tasks in many of her past videos. In her earlier work The Dustpan (2014), she is strapped upside down and dragged repeatedly across the floor, her hair sweeping away at the ground inches away from her face. In another, The Scale of Justice (2016), she balances herself against the stick, with her body pointed towards, acting as a platform for a plastic stick that holds her body from being dropped with the stack of fresh vegetables. All of these performances seek to examine the psychological, social, and cultural ways of viewing and valuing the challenges of women’s everyday labor. Her body becomes a site where multiple themes can be explored, from ideas of feminism and oppression to the endurance of the body.
Born in Bangkok in 1987, Kawita lives and works in Australia and Thailand. In 2019, she has held her largest museum show to date at Albright Knox Art Gallery in New York. In 2018, she was selected to participate in the first Bangkok Art Biennale. Selected Solo exhibitions: 2017 ’Performing Textiles, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Dunedin, New Zealand’ Splashed, Nova Contemporary, Bangkok, Thailand, Islands in the Stream’ exhibition in Venice, Italy alongside the 57th Venice Biennale, 2016 Machinized, Stills Gallery, Sydney, Australia, 2014 The Ice Shaver, Sencus Luoghi per l’Arte Contemporanea, Florence, Italy, 2013 The Ice Shaver, Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP), Melbourne, Australia, 2013.
Exhibition on view: September 22 – November 16, 2020
For more information about “DOMESTICATED”