Gift Korakrit Arunanondchai | Letters to Chantri #1


For Korakrit Arunanondchai (1986, Bangkok, Thailand; lives and works in New York), a life lived amongst different cultures leads naturally into the combination of various artistic disciplines. His art ranges across a broad spectrum from performance through video and painting to installation. By bringing together influences from the digital world and from Western and Eastern mythology, religion, economics, fashion, film and current events, the artist creates cross-cultural work.

Letters to Chantri #1 (2014) is an installation that emerged from Arunanondchai’s research into the fastest-growing Thai Buddhist movement, the notorious Dhammakaya. It cultivates a specific aesthetic: a strict white dress code applies to every visitor to their temples, and Dhammakaya’s temple architecture is reminiscent of such space ships as Death Star in Star Wars. The accusation of corruption aimed at the organisation drew much media attention. There was also controversy around the launch of a promotional video for Dhammakaya concerning the reincarnation of Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, shortly after his death in 2012.

For the development of the Letters to Chantri #1 installation, Arunanondchai set up an imaginary joint venture with a product brand comparable to Dhammakaya. The result is midway between a Buddhist temple and a futuristic luxury shop. Religion and consumerism here combine to form a new ritual with purification, deliverance and salvation at its heart.

Korakrit Arunanondchai Gift is one of a series of presentations of recent gifts to S.M.A.K. The Letters to Chantri #1 installation was purchased by ten international art collectors with the purpose of handing it over to S.M.A.K. This form of donation opens up possible new ways of cooperation between public institutions and private initiatives.

The exhibition was mounted with support from the Carlos Ishikawa Gallery in London.

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