Collateral Event of the
60th International Art Exhibition
La Biennale di Venezia

The Spirits of Maritime Crossing explores cultural flows and moving water as metaphors of unexplored ocean and territories.

Marina Abramović, an icon of the diaspora, travels from Venice to Bangkok. Her spirit encounters Monkey King, played by Pichet Klunchun with priests and talismans. The video tells the story of a wandering spirit traveling in the foreign land connecting Venice and Bangkok. Bangkok as Venice of the East is closely linked with the Italian diaspora. In parallel worlds of Italy and Siam, Chitti Kasemkitvatana and Nakrob Moonmanas create phantasmagorial montages of foreigners and commoners whispering in different tongues.

Colonizers and missionaries brought new faith and left behind painful memories. Jompet Kuswidananto’s twinkling shards evoke broken vessels and shattered dreams in the vast ocean. Across the archipelago, Christianity became enmeshed with locality. Alwin Reamillo weaves cultural currents through found objects and assemblages. Fourteen stations of the Cross peel layers of colonialism and Christian iconography through subjects on migration, New World Disorder and globalization. Natee Utarit infuses Buddhist philosophy with Western art history that convey contradiction and absurdity. East-West encounters depict foreigners everywhere in temples and piazzas. Convoluted time and space take viewers back to the time when serene and exotic life of foreigners searched for abundance and refuge between Venice and Bangkok. For Bounpaul Phothyzan, the remnants during American occupation in Southeast Asia left scars and trauma. Bombshells discarded in rice fields are carved to record victims crippled and killed by mighty foreigners. They are a haunting testament to the memory of violence.

Mythological dancers by Khvay Samnang inspired by Ramayana relate to hegemony and deforestation. Rain dance is intertwined with local worship to nourish harvest and dispel foreign threats from the fire dragon. Yee I-Lann and sea-based communities explore maritime histories to revive ancestral knowledge. She addresses issues of indigenous connections by collaborating with weavers and local communities. Mats stitched with rubbish washed ashore by tidal currents connect Venice and Borneo. Gourds by Truong Cong Tung are analogous to spirits from Vietnam. Drops of water and bubbles symbolize time and decay shared by humanity. These strange objects are reminders of distant land and foreigners across maritime crossings.

Embroideries by Jakkai Siributr evoke the plight of stateless people. Art collaboration with asylum seekers reflects on ethnic cleansing. Stateless asylum seekers are assumed to be strangers and foreigners everywhere they go. And their pursuit of freedom and natural terrain leaves a violent path. Moe Satt uses his body as a space of identity, difference and estrangement. His video performance, inspired by dance and tribal hunting, suggests survival of sectarian violence in his homeland.

Priyageetha Dia’s video of deep sea is about ancestral migratory movements from India to Malay Peninsula. As migrants across the Indian Ocean, her family are foreigners and marginalized. Maritime currents enmesh subaltern culture with diasporic histories. Kawita Vatanajyankur performs in foamy blue dye from textile industry. Her work focuses on female labor in the patriarchal society and the role of water in the context of femininity and textile industry. Female labor, feminism and abuse are parts of being foreign.

Southeast Asian artists from the Global South share many commonalities but also differences in ethnicities, religions, languages that make them foreign among neighbors. The legacy of these nations constituted cultural hybrids among foreigners, refugees, immigrants and stateless people.  The Spirits of Maritime Crossing is a journey from Southeast Asia to Venice with glimpses of allurement and diasporic experiences—and foreigners dispersed from their homeland physically and spiritually.

Bangkok Art Biennale (BAB), set in the capital city of Thailand, was founded in 2017 with the mission to transform the bustling city of Bangkok into Southeast Asia’s leading contemporary art destination. Taking over public spaces around the city including temples and heritage sites over the course of four months, the biennale highlights the city’s charm by bridging Rattanakosin cultural heritage with Bangkok urbanism.

As a freely accessible platform, the past three biennales attracted over three and a half million visitors. More than 300 artists from Asia, Europe, America, Oceania and Africa participated. During the pandemic, the biennale also launched BAB Virtual Venue, an online platform which has garnered over 2.3 million viewers from around the world each year. The theme of each biennale, Beyond Bliss, Escape Routes, CHAOS : CALM, evolved around the events of the world, and calls attention to relevant socio-political and environmental issues in a glocal scale, and seek to question through art, what it means to be contemporary.

Bangkok Art Biennale Foundation aims to foster cross-cultural exchange between artists and creative practitioners from around the world. Its diverse programming creates more opportunities for artists, especially from the Global South, to hone their practices and exhibit and produce new works, thus gaining more exposure in the international art scene. As a platform, Bangkok Art Biennale Foundation supports scholarly and open discussions in contemporary art and issues beyond, and focuses on making art education inclusive and accessible, not only to the art aficionados and art tourists, but to younger local audiences in Thailand, and the public at large. Acting as a bridge between the art sector and other disciplines, and forming alliances with both the public and private sectors including government organizations, embassies, cultural institutions, schools, and various businesses, the Foundation’s mission is also to support the development of the art ecosystem and the infrastructure of the art industry in Southeast Asia.


Bangkok Art Biennale Foundation (BABF) was founded under the patronage of Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi, CEO and President of ThaiBev Co., Ltd, a beverage company, together with the visions of Nitikorn Kravixien, Director of Arts and Culture, ThaiBev Co., Ltd, and former vice president of the Royal Photographic Society of Thailand (RPST), and Prof. Dr. Apinan Poshyananda, pioneering curator of Asian art and former Permanent Secretary and Acting Minister of the Ministry of Culture, Thailand.

About Thai Beverage Public Company Limited (ThaiBev)

Thai Beverage Public Company Limited (‘ThaiBev,’ and together with its subsidiaries, the ‘Group’) is a leading beverage company in Southeast Asia and the largest in Thailand. The Group's vision is to be a world-class beverage company embodying commercial excellence, continuous product development and premiumization, as well as professionalism. ThaiBev's business consists of four segments – spirits, beer, non-alcoholic beverages, and food. ThaiBev has been the major supporter of Bangkok Art Biennale since 2018, and the company’s commitment to artistic innovation has transformed the Bangkok Art Biennale into a prominent platform for Thai and international artists and creators.


Professor Dr. Apinan Poshyananda was born in 1956. He received his Bachelor and Master Degree in Fine Arts from Edinburgh University and Ph.D. in History of Art from Cornell University. As an artist, he won 3 medals at the National Exhibition of Art, Thailand. Poshyananda is the author of several books on Thai and Asian art. He became professor at the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. Poshyananda served as Director-General, Office of Contemporary Art and Culture, Director-General of Cultural Promotion Department and, the Permanent Secretary and Acting Minister, Ministry of Culture, Thailand when he was to commission and curate the first Thai Pavilion at 50th Venice Biennale in 2003. He has curated and directed international art exhibitions in Asia, Europe, USA and Australia including Contemporary Art from Asia: Traditions/Tensions (1996, Grey Art Gallery, Queen Museum of Art, and Asia Society Galleries, New York); Traces of Siamese Smile: Art + Faith + Politic + Love (2008, the inaugural exhibition of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC)); Thailand Eye (2015, Saatchi Gallery, London and BACC). He is a committee member of the Asian Cultural Council, New York; Asian Art Council, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Board of National Gallery, Singapore; and Advisor to President and CEO, Thai Beverage Plc. He was conferred Knight Grand Cordon (Special Class) of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant, Thailand; Knight First Class of Royal Order of the Polar Star, Sweden; Knight, Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity, Italy and Officer of the French Arts and Letters Order, France.