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Jakkai Siributr: Lucky Ware

Asian Contemporary Art Week

Friday, May 15, 2009
7:30 PM–8:30 PM

Once again RMA is participating in New York City’s annual Asian Contemporary Art Week (ACAW). As part of ACAW’s Open Portfolios program we will be hosting a special installation by one of Thailand’s leading contemporary artists, Jakkai Siributr. The piece, entitled Lucky Ware, makes a powerful statement about the current condition of Buddhism in contemporary Thailand. On the evening of Friday, May 15, Siributr will be at RMA to discuss his workwith writer Lawrence Osborne. Lucky Ware will be on view through May 18.
Lawrence Osborne’s new book Bangkok Days is his visceral travel guide to Thailand’s capital, a feverish place where a strange blend of ancient Buddhist practice and new sexual mores has created a version of modernity only superficially indebted to the West. Osborne has written for The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker and other publications and is the author of five previous books, including The Naked Tourist and The Accidental Connoisseur.
“Jakkai Siributr?s latest series of fiber art paints a discordant picture of an artist bewildered by the path his country is veering along, both sympathetic towards, and repulsed by, the capricious society he is immersed within. His present confusion is symptomatic of the state of mind of many of his fellow Thais amidst the present political impasse. With Thailand a fragile democracy at best, a nepotistic plutocracy at worst, Jakkai yearns to escape to a more serene and spiritual plane of existence. The question now is will his country let him? Scrutiny of religious practice has edged Jakkai beyond two-dimensional fiber art into installation for the merit-making work, Lucky Ware. For Thai Buddhist worshippers, it is customary to make a donation of a saffron colored plastic bucket full of practical items to benefit monks, who are supposed to live a humble existence. In the wake of several media scandals that have exposed some members of the modern clergy as behaving in a manner that is far from austere or celibate, today Jakkai feels he fulfils this selfless duty with growing resentment and impurity. Removing the bags of rice, matches, candles, medicine, incense, and other everyday supplies typically stocked in such spiritual packages, for this installation of ready-mades and an antique religious painting, Jakkai supplants contemporary items associated with selfishness and vice. In the artist?s jaded commodified interpretation of sangha than buckets, alcohol, condoms, skin whitening creams, and lottery tickets are the new sustenance of worship.” – Steven Pettifor