Friday, 27 May 2011

Navinland, Venice, Italy

"This year, will be Thailand’s fifth participation at the Biennale and will present for the first time a pavilion whose reigning artist, Navin Rawanchaikul was invited by the commissioning body, the Thai Ministry of Culture’s Office of Contemporary Art and Culture (OCAC) rather than being a winner of the Biennale competition which the Ministry holds. This initiative is worthy, not only because Navin was awarded the national Silapathorn citation from the Ministry for his accomplishments in the field of visual arts, though the invitation is not directly related to this particular title, but because Navin in fact a big enough force in both the local and international contemporary art world to pull off such an ambitious presentation. Titled Paradiso di Navin, a Mission to Establish Navinland, Navin invites his viewers to enter his world, literally, “Navinland”. A derivation of Thailand and continuation of the themes that he has worked with before, in particular his Navin Party series where he scoured the earth looking for the Navins of different nations to form his “party”, one that lacks borders and nationality, united only by name. It begs the question of what this really means, the idea of nation, fitting with the Exhibition’s theme and also sensitive to Thailand’s tireless divisive political conundrum. So here we look to establish a land of Navin, it is the mission. Can a nation be made up sole of “Navins” irrespective of where they actually come from? Navinland is imaginary but it still has its inhabitants (Navins), its constitution, its manifesto, its political party, even its own food and drinks. After all it will be geographically located in at the Paradiso gallery at the entrance of the Giardini della Biennale, this location made possible by collaboration with the Concilio Europeo dell’Arte. Paradiso is appropriate as it where art-fatigued biennale visitors will come to find sanctuary in food, drink and conversation, this time though, by taking sanctuary they will be entering a para-pavillion, they will be experiencing “art”. This is because the site-specific work will incorporate everyday things; it will be his way of exploring and challenging traditional definitions of culture and also art and where for him “this is not just for art people and the art world but for everyone and then it is somewhere where something unexpected can happen”. The search for the establishment of this new nation is multi-disciplinary in form as it uses a broad area of media including installation, film, performance, mobile galleries, billboards, comics, games, merchandise and even cocktails. His collaboration with silk house Jim Thompson will enable him to style the Paradiso restaurant and bar with Pha Khao Mar textile and also to create souvenirs and memorabilia for visitors to Navinland."

- excerpt from my article in the Bangkok Post, ILLUMInations and Navinland at the 54th Venice Biennale, a Preview published on May 25th 2011.

The Venice Biennale Opening week is from May 31st - June 3th.

The Venice Biennale, ILLUMInations 2011, will run from June 4th - November 27th 2011

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