Jim Thompson -

Ended 30 August 2014
Jim Thompson

The Jim Thompson Art Center is pleased to present TRANSMISSION, an exhibition exploring the interface between cultural heritage and contemporary art.

TRANSMISSION takes as its starting point a storied collection of art and artefacts, that of the Jim Thompson Thai House and Museum, a collection that is almost synonymous with Thai heritage thanks to the museum’s preservation and promotion of Thai culture, old and new. But like other important Thai collections, most of its contents are actually older than Thailand - certainly, older than the modern nation state inaugurated in the 1930s. Speaking to us from pre-modern and pre-national times, what is the place to which it refers? Taking in centuries of cultural exchange and an area now spanning many countries, what the museum assembles and displays is also a collection of regional art.

TRANSMISSION offers a glimpse into Thailand’s pre-national unconscious, through the looking glass of contemporary art. The exhibition sees seven contemporary artists from Thailand and Southeast Asia responding to the Jim Thompson collection in their own terms. Their works show that the past is not just an inspiration, but a challenge, that ‘tradition’ is not just an inheritance of forms and techniques, but a live process of translation and adaptation that is integral to the experience of modernity. TRANSMISSION suggests that ‘heritage’ offers much more than a sense of identity, but also conceptual, spiritual and practical knowledge – renewable resources for thinking, feeling and making.

Through new and recent creations in a wide variety of media – from woodwork and painting to video and sound installation – the exhibition raises the question of how knowledge is transmitted, between people and between peoples. How does a culture reach across time and space? What makes it rigid or adaptable? Why do some cultures thrive, while others fade away?

Such questions could not be more timely as Southeast Asia readies itself for greater political, economic and cultural integration. Yet most of this region still grapples with defensive and divisive forms of nationalism, and art and archaeology are often the prized sacrificial victims. Despite populist appeals to national heritage, and international claims to ‘world heritage’, the region’s cultural roots reach across all national borders.

Rather than provoke, TRANSMISSION opens a dialogue amongst forms – ancient, modern and contemporary – that reflect the region’s deeper, shared past and its inevitably common future. Like the Jim Thompson brand itself, founded on giving time-honoured techniques a contemporary expression, TRANSMISSION advances a forward-looking view of the past. It celebrates the vitality ofmoradok, and art’s ongoing contribution to this living heritage.

TRANSMISSION is curated by David Teh, with the assistance of Mary Pansanga

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Ends 30 August 2014

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Jim Thompson

6/1 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road Bangkok, Thailand 10330

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Jim Thompson
Jim Thompson

6/1 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road Bangkok, Thailand 10330

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