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Mangosteen, 2022

Video installation, 40 min 7 sec

Artist : Tulapop Saenjaroen

Venue : Baan Trok Tua Ngork

Earth returns to his hometown in Rayong, Thailand, where his sister, Ink runs their family-owned mangosteen-processing factory. In this province on the east coast of the gulf, mangosteen plantations are plentiful and oil spills occasional. Shot in dated Digital8 format, the film portrays the mundanity of labor among employees in an industrial fruit processing plant against the doubt-filled fancies of its owners. Caught in their conflicting visions of the future of the factory, and by extension their individual prospective lives, Earth, the protagonist, descends into a frenzied state that results in his eventual disappearance. An unreliable narrator wonders about the story he is telling, fictionalizing characters in the way they might have fictionalized themselves. All agency slowly dissipates as characters embrace their potential to become unhinged, not in a negative sense of destruction, but as a liberation from preconceived narratives. 

The grotesque pulp of mangosteens cut against shots of neuroscientific images of nerves bring mixed feelings of beauty, violence, and indifference. The culling of natural resources, brutal mismanagement, corruption of government bodies, and metaphorical beheading schemes exist in the same universe. Different sets of logic from human and non-human actors collide ready to implode at any moment, sparking either transformation or annihilation. Mangosteen reflects on the potential of fiction, the substance that frees subjects real or imagined from themselves. This is a tale for a chronically anxious and futureless time, where rationality merely sets the stage for its own undoing, creating alternative stories for desubjectivization. Saenjaroen's practice embodies the power of narratives freed from the shackles of reality to reform the subject.

Commissioned by Ghost Foundation.