Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Tropics – Views from the Middle of the Globe


The Tropics – Views from the Middle of the Globe
An exhibition of pre-modern and contemporary art from the tropics
Curated by Alfons Hug, Peter Junge, Viola König

Organized by The Jim Thompson Art Center in collaboration with the  The Ethnological Museum - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, and the Goethe-Institut.

Venue : Jim Thompson Art Center, Bangkok
From 13th March – 12th June, 2010
Open everyday from 9 – 5 pm. Free admission

     The Jim Thompson Art Center  in collaboration with the  The Ethnological Museum - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, and the Goethe-Institut  proudly present an exhibition “The Tropics – Views from the Middle of the Globe“, curated by  Alfons Hug, a German curator based in Rio De Janeiro, Peter Junge, curator of the African Collection of The Ethnological Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and Viola König, the Director of the The Ethnological Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

     According to the curators, this exhibition was a response to the pioneer show “Les Magiciens de la Terre” (Paris, 1989), which exhibited at the Center George Pompidu, France. The exhibition “The Tropics – Views from the Middle of the Globe” attempts anew to detect currents of energy and subtle disturbances between the hemispheres in times of tension,  and to search for cooperative as well as counteractive cultural forces. The exhibition has  already been presented in Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town and Berlin.

     Ranking among the most important in the world, exhibits from the collections of the Ethnological Museum in Berlin from Africa, Asia, Oceania and tropical America enter into dialogue with works by contemporary artists from South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Old and new art converge in one place. As the show is conceived as an art exhibition, the selection of the older works was primarily made according to aesthetic criteria. In general, the exhibition attempts a re-aesthetisation of the tropics, in order to place more emphasis on cultural aspects of tropical regions, as opposed to the otherwise prevailing negative political and economic discourses.

     This re- aesthetisation considers the tropics as a European construct, while attempting at the same time to clarify this construct and to consider it as a topic of discourse about the tropics. This inherent ambivalence becomes apparent in the different approaches of the three curators: Alfons Hug not only presents works by contemporary artists from the tropics, but also includes works by artists who do not originate from there, yet use the tropics as their subject. Viola König, arranges objects within the topic “Colours and Sounds of the Tropics”, thus making it possible to trace specific common aspects of the art from the tropics. By contrast, Peter Junge’s approach is more sceptical:  The works of art in the three subject areas (nature, human image, and political power) curated by him are examples of different forms of art, whose only common characteristic is their assignment to cultures found in the geographically defined realm of the tropics.

     The exhibition is structured in several sections, each of which refers to a chapter heading in Claude Lévi-Strauss’ work “Mythologica”. It all begins with “After the Deluge”, the chapter that deals with nature and landscapes. Pre-modern artworks in the exhibition touch or approach two aspects of nature: firstly, metaphorically conceived images, secondly, representations of creatures who act in nature, the environment of human civilisation, either by threatening or assisting mankind.

     The exhibition  features old works from Mexico, Ivory Coast,  Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo, Bolivia, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, India, Indonesia from the collection of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Ethnologisches Museum  in Berlin which are juxtaposed with new works by contemporary artists such as Thomas Struth, Vong Phaophanit, Sherman Ong, Marcos Chaves, Marcel Odenbach, Dinh Q. Lê, Theo Eshetu and Pilar Albarracin.

Educational Programs 

Curator Walk
Date: 12 March 2010
Time: 4:00-5:00 pm.
Venue: Exhibition Room, Jim Thompson Art Center
Activity fee: Free

     Dr. Viola König, the director and Dr. Peter Junge, the curator of the African Collection of The Ethnological Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin will conduct a curator walk through the exhibition space to discuss the concept behind the exhibit. 

Artist’s Talk
Date: 26 March 2010
Time: 6:00-8:00 pm.
Venue: William Warren Library
Activity fee: Free

     Vietnamese artist, Dinh Q. Lê will give a talk about his video art “The farmers and the helicopters” which is on show in The Tropic exhibition.  This work relates to Vietnamese thinking after World War II. The artist will also talk about his recent works including those which are inspired by society and culture in Southeast Asia.

Lecture: Tropical Perspective – Domestic and Anthropological Perspectives
Date: 3 April 2010
Time: 2:00-4:00
Leader: Dr. Yukti Mukdawijit from the Faculty of Sociology and Anthropology, Thammasat University
Venue: William Warren Library
Activity fee: Free

     Dr. Yukti Mukdawijit will take an anthropological approach to the idea of ‘the other’s point of view’ concerning tropical countries, focusing on the perspectives of both European and tropical people. He will discuss the Southeast Asia artworks in The Tropics exhibition and consider how these can be related to the way of life and cultural in the tropical countries.

Workshop: Children’s Mask Making
Date: 24  April 2010
Time: 1:00-4:00
Leader: Soawanee Wongjinda, Creative Program Organizer of Makampom Foundation
Venue: William Warren Library
Materials fee: 300 Bt./person include with tea break (limited 20 people)

     We cordially invite children age 8-12 to join a mask workshop. This workshop will provide a good opportunity for children to learn about masks that were used for worship and ritual ceremony in performances. The participants will create their own mask by using recycled and natural materials. 

Needlework Workshop:   The Differences  between the Tropics and Europe
Date: 8/15  May 2010
Time: 1:00-5:00
Leader: Gorapin P. Likitkijsomboon
Venue: William Warren Library
Activity Fee: 1000  bht /1 person/ 2 days include with tea break (limited 20 people)

     The program will focus on the art of embroidery, its history and development including the use of colors and design. Participants will be shown slides of traditional embroidery work and colorful fabrics from both eastern and western cultures. The participants will also have a change to try embroidery techniques and other needlework skills to create their own works in tropical and European colors.

Reading Film and Discussion:   “Tropical Perspectives - Outside In / Inside Out”
Date: 20 May 2010
Time: 6:00-8:00
Moderator: Gridthiya Gaweewong
Venue: William Warren Library
Activity Fee: Free

     The Jim Thompson Art Center will show selected short films which center around the encounter between eastern and western culture. Historical and anthropological films by filmmakers from 1930s to the present such as “I am from Siam”, Phi Ta Kon and more.  This is a screening session and will include a discussion about re-reading and re-examing the subtext of history and ethnography. Tropical culture as represented in films will also be discusses.

Lecture:  Hunting Authenticity - Pseudo-Tourism
Date: 12June 2010
Time: 2:00-4:00
Leader: Pravit Rojanaphruk, Pasakorn Intoo-Marn
Moderator: Worathep Akkabootara 
Venue: William Warren Library

     This lecture is inspired by traditional works from the collection of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin which have been exhibited in The Tropics. These ceremonial works represent an important aspect of cultures from tropical regions.  However, today they are treated as ‘objects’ in the context of western museums. Thus their ritual identity has been transformed and modified in order to attract tourism. The lecture will focus on Thailand’s case, where ceremony instruments were turned into commodities and their ritual function lost as they become souvenirs and OTOP products.   

     This exhibition is made possible by the James H.W. Thompson Foundation, The Thai Silk Company, The Goethe Institute, Bangkok,  Column Bangkok, Samsung,  Disaphol Chansiri, The Ethnological Museum - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin  and Kulturstiftung des Bundes.

For further information please contact Penwadee for an exhibition, and Somsuda for an educational program at 02 2192911 or email artcenter@jimthompsonhouse.com


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