Bangkok Takes Its Place on the Venice Stage

The New York Times
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Bangkok, called the Venice of the East by European missionaries and sailors who fell under the city’s spell centuries ago, will celebrate its fourth biennale this fall, but not before using the 60th Venice Biennale to showcase itself as that other city of canals, culture and art.

“The Spirits of Maritime Crossing,” an exhibition sponsored by the Bangkok Art Biennale Foundation, will run from Saturday to Nov. 24 and will be housed in the newly restored 17th-century Palazzo Smith Mangilli Valmarana on the Grand Canal, which seems fitting.

Much as Venice has long been a showcase, indoors and outdoors, for displaying art during its biennale, the Bangkok Biennale uses spaces including in warehouses, art galleries and its Buddhist and Hindu temples that dot the Chao Phraya River, which snakes through the city like its own canal.

“In 2017 when we started this idea of a biennale, we looked at Venice as a model and even announced the Bangkok Biennale Foundation in Venice that year,” Apinan Poshyananda, chief executive and artistic director of Bangkok Art Biennale and curator of “The Spirits of Maritime Crossing” exhibition, said in a recent phone interview. “This idea of water connects both cities, and we want to make artists aware of our biennale and move outside of Bangkok with our brand.”

The Bangkok Biennale attracted more than 3.5 million visitors in its first three incarnations (2018, 2020 and 2022) and included over 300 artists, with an emphasis on creating visibility for artists from the Global South. It returns Oct. 24 and runs through Feb. 25.