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Meet the Bangkok artist destroying his work in the name of censorship

Last year, Sina Wittayawiroj's exhibition was shut down. This weekend, he's making a show of burning the final work. 

By Siriya Suriyanon | Sep 08, 2017

  • Meet the Bangkok artist destroying his work in the name of censorship

See also: What's holding back Bangkok's art scene?


Last October, Sina Wittayawiroj’s Beat Around the Bush exhibition at Bridge was canceled by the gallery owner due to the sensitive nature of the work. In response, Sina’s planning to go out with the ultimate form of self-censorship. At the opening of The Last Exhibition on Sep 9 at Cartel Art Space, the painter and video artist will destroy the last pieces from his unseen scrapped show. The burnt remains will stay on display until Sep 24 when Sina will retire from the artist circuit altogether.  

Can you tell us more about The Last Exhibition?

It’s my last show ever. In the time period of since Beat Around the Bush got canceled, I had time to reflect on the incident and question the impact of my work. The idea of burning [my work] didn’t come to me immediately; that was only a couple of months ago. The exhibition room contains work from my canceled show, along with a neon sign, a video piece and limited-edition zines detailing behind the scenes. This is a continuation of the previous show and follows the manifesto I wrote for Beat Around the Bush, which is all about the restrictions within art and how many Thai artists and creatives are searching of ways to communicate their views covertly.   

The Last Exhibition zine

Why exactly was Beat Around The Bush canceled?

The gallery owner called it off two days before the opening because the work contained sensitive subjects that weren't appropriate so close to the King Bhumibol's passing. The pieces themselves were about self-censorship, but when it got censored for real, it resulted in a new exhibition, The Show is Canceled [which also showed at Bridge in October], which documented the conversations I had with the gallery owner about the cancelation of Beat Around the Bush.

The Show is Canceled, 2016

Why did you choose to have your last show at Cartel Artspace? Was it a political move?

When my show got canceled last year, a friend of mine got in touch with [Cartel owner] Mit Jai-Inn asking if I could re-exhibit here, but the queue for the space was a year long. Cartel Artspace actually choose to describe themselves as a political organization rather than a gallery, so I was attracted to the space because of that.     

The Last Exhibition

Are you burning all of your work?

No, I’m not. Only the series of work from Beat Around the Bush. Every piece from before then I’m going to archive. In a way this is the ultimate form of self-censorship as no members of the public have seen the works and they will never see them again. Everything at the opening of the exhibition [Sep 9, 6pm] is going, except the neon sign.   

What’s your next move?

This is the end. I’m not making anymore artwork as I don’t have anything else to say or add. But I’ll still be working within the scene archiving other artists’ work. Others may say that archiving itself is art.  

The Last Exhibtion runs Sep 9-24 at Cartel Artspace, Narathiwat Ratchanakarin Soi 22. Open Wed-Sun 2pm-6pm

 
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