Thailand

Consuming Thai Culture, or How Not to Bite the Hand That’s Feeding You

Thai food is one of Thailand’s most famous exports — a fact that Thailand’s Ministry of Culture must have well been aware of when they commissioned artists Arin Rungjang and Wasinburee Supanichvoraparch to present art tied to the government’s “Thailand: Kitchen to the World” campaign in this year’s Biennale.

Rungjang’s art delves into the history of the Thai “golden teardrop” dessert thong yod to reveal Thailand’s rich cross-cultural heritage; Supanichvoraparch’s “Poperomia” aspires to tease out the complexities of contemporary Thai culture by foregrounding aspects of its agricultural character.

The state-driven nature of both artworks gives us pause to ask: do these works problematize or support the often exoticized representations of Thailand that are globally consumed in mass culture? How do they reflect the contemporary class conflicts between the impoverished rural population and the economic elite that have underscored the recent massive political demonstrations in the country?

Whose hand is feeding Rungjang and Supanichvoraparch?

May Ee Wong

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Pavilion

Organizer/Commissioner:
Office of Contemporary Art and Culture, Ministry of Culture
Artists:
Wasinburee Supanichvoraparch; Arin Rungjang
Curators:
Penwadee Nophaket Manont; Worathep Akkabootara

Curator

Name:
Worathep Akkabootara
Gender:
Male
Born:
Thailand, 1976
Lives and works in:
Thailand
No. of participations in the venice biennale:
1

Curator

Name:
Penwadee Nophaket Manont
Gender:
Female
Born:
The United States of America, 1973
Lives and works in:
Thailand
No. of participations in the venice biennale:
1

Artist

Name:
Arin Rungjang
Gender:
Male
Born:
Thailand, 1975
Lives and works in:
Thailand
No. of participations in the venice biennale:
1

Artist

Name:
Wasinburee Supanichvoraparch
Gender:
Male
Born:
Thailand, 1971
Lives and works in:
Thailand
No. of participations in the venice biennale:
1

Politics & Economics

State System:
Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Ruling Political Party:
Populist Pheu Thai Party
Population (World Bank, 2011):
69,518,555
GDP per capita (World Bank, 2011):
$4,972
Unemployment (World Bank, 2011):
0.7% of the labor force
World Bank credit:
$1,480,000,000
Net OECD ODA Aid Donated (2011):
$31,490,000
Military Expenditure (SIPRI, 2011):
$5,387,000,000

Alliances


World Bank debt
Non-Aligned Movement
WTO

Conflicts

Country independent since:
1776 (reunification of Thailand)
Last Major Border Revision:
1909 (Anglo-Siamese Treaty)
International Court of Justice cases:
2
Global Militarization Index (BICC, 2011):
46
Nuclear Force?
No
Ongoing Conflicts and Disputes:
Occasional outbreaks of political and ethnic voilence after the military coup of 2008. The current prime minister is the younger sister of the ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Sporadic military clashes along the Thai-Cambodian border.
Participation in Multinational Missons:
UN peacekeeping missions in Darfur, and India and Pakistan.