Gridthiya “Jeab” Gaweewong and Susannah Tantemsapya

Conversation via Facebook Messenger

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ST: How does art in Thailand reflect the social and political changes in its current landscape?

GG: & – That’s the current state of art in Thailand. Freedom of expression is in danger.

ST: How is art changing in Thailand right now?


ST: What is the reaction of artists towards this current state, especially since the military government has been in place? Does it feel different than a few years ago?

GG: I wish I could answer all your questions freely, Susannah. Our freedom of expression is in danger, and monitored by the government. Under the martial law, it’s difficult to express opinions freely. Many artists who deal with critical, social political issues were under heavy surveillance by the authority…

ST: Do you feel Thai artists have an impact on their own society?


ST: Do you feel that Thai artists have an impact overseas?

GG: On the other hand, many Thai artists had solo shows in the US and beyond, such as Korakrit Arunanonchai at MoMA PS1 last year and Araya’s (Rasdjarmrearnsook) solo at SculptureCenter, New York. Rirkrit (Tiravanija) just curated a show which included many Thai artists at the Yerba Buena in San Francisco, and many young Thai independent filmmakers received awards from international film festivals, and so on…

ST: What is the overall climate right now for artists?

GG: In the country, the situation had been reserved. Many artists did work underground, and had to work in their studio, but they can’t show their works to public. However, some alternative spaces still can show critical works, as you see in the articles. I guess those articles might help the audiences understand better about our context and situation, although it’s been complicated, and I don’t even know how to start.

About the contributors: Gridthiya Gaweewong founded arts organization Project 304 in 1996, and is currently an artistic director of the Jim Thompson Art Center, Bangkok. Her curatorial projects have addressed issues of social transformation confronting artists from Thailand and beyond since the Cold War. Gawewong has curated exhibitions and events including Politics of Fun (With Ong Keng Sen) at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2005), (With Apichatpong Weerasethakul) the Bangkok Experimental Film Festival (1997–2007), (with Rirkrit Tiravanija) Saigon Open City in Saigon, Vietnam (2006–2007), and Between Utopia and Dystopia, University Museum of Contemporary Art (MUAC), Mexico City, Mexico (2011).

Susannah Tantemsapya is a creative producer, journalist and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. She founded Creative Migration in 2005, a nonprofit organization that produces and collaborates on projects that bring together art, sustainability and public engagement. She has made several films including POST NEW BILLS: The Story of Green Patriot Posters, which is part of a traveling exhibition with the Design Museum Foundation from 2014-16. Currently, she is working on Projection, a large-scale, public art intervention in Los Angeles by Paris-based artist Vincent Lamouroux.

Susannah earned a degree in Photojournalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she started out as a music editor for ‘SUP MAGAZINE. She began working in film as a production assistant for director/theater artist Robert Wilson. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Whitewall Magazine, Canvas Magazine, art ltd. and The WILD Magazine. She is also a dual citizen of the United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand.