From Desires to Where?
Exhibition: 30 Sep – 1 Nov 2003
Tang Contemporary Art
919/3, 5th Floor, Soi 19 Silom Rd.
+66 (02)-630 1114
On the face of it, this is a joint exhibition. Epitomized by a common conceptual element, the artist are interested in activating and uncovering fragments of social obsessions in everyday sites and situations, through their iconic figures in the photos as metaphorical tools. However, in terms of perception, the artists are also very different, both in terms of photographic strategy and approach. Even though both deal with aspects of contemporary existence, the mutually exclusive results are mediated in the two artist's own situation of conflict. Fresh from his participation in 50th Venice Biennale this year, the exhibition features Manit Sriwanichpoom's Pink Man onEuropean Tour, including the never-before-seen Pink Man in Venice. For Chinese artist Weng Fen, who also just participated recently in the 1st Prague Biennale, his works include Sitting on the Wall and Bird's Eye View. Sriwanichpoom engages with an universal resonance by implicating an environment that neither belongs nor tainted (enjoyed) by him. In contrast, Weng is interested in the apparently changing world of suburbia culture in his hometown, Haikou city, which is located in the small Hainan Island, away from the Mainland. Among the many projects of Sriwanichpoom, Pink Man is probably the artist's most recognised artistic manifestation. Already immortalised in seven different series, this iconic figure - all tailored up in a signature pink suit - is always stepping into various narratives to 'perform' his role as a wandering symbol of consumerist greed and opportunism, a soulless subject, unburdened by memory or conscience. Pink Man has been taken wandering into the financial district of Bangkok, wrapping in different Pink outfits of typical consumer lifestyle representations and also being digitally slotted into old archival images documenting the student atrocities in 1973 and 1976. Strategically placed in these different series, the eye-catching figure acts as a deliberate reflection in a search for meaning; infiltrating into the relationships between humans and their societal environment. For this exhibition, the artist brought Pink Man to the faraway cities of the Europe. From Graz, Austria to Venice, Italy, this new series continues to infiltrate the tensions of the cities and its inhabitants in order to invoke the questioning of existing social obsessions, in alignment with the structuring and functioning of the urban society itself. The two series presented allows us to peer into the abrupt change of narrative contradictions in the imageries. With his empty shopping trolley, Pink Man wanders and stood aimlessly into the streets of Graz amid the bustling activities and the residents who are seemingly oblivious to his presence. It is as if that he doesn't know what to do or how to react to such inescapable decor urban lifestyle. The scene is standard and unimaginative, standing as a superficial luxury that continuously disorientates the yearning desires that today's mass-media has easily managed to lead consumers into. The 'other' side offers more as they will always tell you although the subject offered by media persuasion, is often one stage removed from everyday reality. On the other hand, the photos of Pink Man in Venice devoid of a visible human presence become theatrical surrealist nightmares. Holding himself against deserted concrete paths and buildings and waterfront, the tiny existence of the Pink figure is left alone with the large cityscape which offers him very little than he would have imagined. The environment has taken over and the human form is hidden away Here, we are allowed to draw our own conclusion. Sriwanichpoom encourages his audience to identify with the image. A mood enhanced by detailed camera angles, the viewers is given the impression that it is we who are making this journey into the fear of the unknown and non-familiar, of the 'other', in a situation where everyone can be a victim or a legitimate target.