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Bangkok's first art biennale banks on getting over 3 million visitors

Move over Venice, Bangkok's coming.

By Siriya Suriyanon | Jul 04, 2017

  • Bangkok's first art biennale banks on getting over 3 million visitors
  • Bangkok's first art biennale banks on getting over 3 million visitors

With Bangkok’s first art biennale set to happen from Nov-Feb next year, Thai contemporary art is getting catapulted onto the global stage. After the initial announcement back in May, the organizers held their first official press conference yesterday (Jul 4), announcing just how big they expect this thing to be.

The answer: over 3 million people big. The chairman of the administrative committee, Thanpana Sirivadhanabhakdi, announced that he expects to attract 3.3 million visitors over the four-month period, mostly through tourism.

Alongside the exhibition's chief executive and artistic director, Prof. Dr. Apinan Posyananda, he also announed plans to hosts three biennales in total: in 2018, 2020 and 2022.

The biennale itself can be seen as a spin-off to the success of the 2015 group exhibition of contemporary Thai artists, Thailand Eye, at Saatchi gallery in London.

With artists like Rirkrit Tiravanija, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook and Somboon Hormtientong (who's currently representing Thailand in this year's Venice Biennale) establishing strong global acclaim, the idea to host Bangkok's first biennale now makes a lot of sense. 

"We will be following the Venice Biennale model, respecting the heritage sites and to show that contemporary work has cultural value," said Prof. Dr. Apinan, who stressed that, while expanding state pockets, the event also plans to encourage aspiring artists through work placements, workshops and guided tour.

The list of exhibiting artists is yet to be announced, as the organizer is currently running an open call for international and local artists until Sep 30, 2017. The shortlist is expected to be confirmed by the end of Jan 2018. 

Popularized by Venice's famous biennial art show, which first took place in 1895, the term "biennale" is nowadays commonly used to describe large-scale recurring international contemporary art exhibitions.

Here's a sneak look at some of the host venues: 

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