Prasert Yodkaew is a contemporary Thai artist, who offers a subtle interpretation of the crossing between traditional Thai beliefs with science and technology of our time. Initially trained in traditional fine art, he has turned these last years towards installation works, video and artistic performances. Its mix of mixed medias combines elements of traditional Thai art with found objects to create amazing and ingenious artistic installations offering a back and forward between the contemporary and the traditional world.
In his solo exhibition ‘Nightmare’, which starts at the Vin Gallery in Saigon on March 2nd, the artist takes us into the depths of his subconscious with a large-scale artistic performance, which will transform for a month, the gallery in a web of truths, memories, and realities. Meeting with the artist.
Bliss Saigon: Prasert, Your exhibition ‘Nightmare’ at Vin Gallery in Saigon starts on March 2nd. Why an exhibition about dreams?
Prasert Yodkaew: It is not so much about dreams but about nightmares. I rather want to speak about truth and emotional realities – the truth is that everyone in this life will have one day a nightmare. It is about everyone’s passage, not just mine. I use the theme of ‘nightmare’ to play with the audience’s feelings and memories.
BS: What role does your research play in your artistic process and how do you exploit it with a project such as ‘Nightmare’?
Prasert Yodkaew: My work is very much shaped by the place I work in, as well as stories I hear and see before making my work. My training in traditional Thai art and my own culture means that I often work with Buddha. For this project, I thought about how Buddha is also important in Vietnamese culture and was initially inspired by the story of a monk burning himself. Although I don’t always know what is true and what is not true, I see stories like this as both reality and nightmare – the stories of our lives. However, in the end, these stories are not so important to me, what is important is that people find their own meaning in my work. I spend time looking for and find objects that we can all find familiar, that can remind the audience of their own lives, experiences and see what is in their own nightmares. These found objects have first been used and discarded, and you can see through them the life of the person who used them.
BS: How do you imagine the viewer’s experience in this visual experience?
Prasert Yodkaew: I want them to make their own discoveries. I think they will have many questions – but the answers can only be found from their own lives and experiences. While I have some answers for myself, I can not provide them for other people. I don’t want to control or shape other peoples experiences or questions them with my work, I want them to come to their own conclusions. It’s ok too if they also have no ideas, it concerns their own experience. I mentioned earlier that I use familiar objects to help them to visualize their own experiences when viewing the installation.
BS: In general, you propose artistic installations offering trips back and forward between the contemporary world and the traditional world? Why?
Prasert Yodkaew: Traditional art helps us to see the culture from the past, and in this, we can learn from the past how to be in the present. I don’t see a separation between traditional and contemporary art – for me, they are neither separate nor together. I was trained in traditional Thai art and everyone in Thailand has to experience with this, but my art is infused with both contemporary thoughts and traditional ideas.
BS: Human being and society are major themes in your performances. Can you tell us more about that?
Prasert Yodkaew: I talk about life, human and animal life and how that affects society and many things, even the sun and the moon, but it is all about finding the truth. All my artwork, performance, video, installation are always about truth. They are just tools for me to spread my message. Sometimes the installation alone cannot say everything and so a performance can help to express more ideas.
BS: If we moved forward in time, what would be your dream in 2050?
Prasert Yodkaew: I don’t like to think about this far ahead, it feels too overwhelming.
Prasert Yodkaew : ‘Nightmare’
Dates: 2 March – 4 April 2018 Opening Friday 2 March 2018 – 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Address: Vin Gallery, 6 Le Van Mien, Thao Dien, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam