site logo
site logo
site logo


SOO-KWAN2022, 2022

Video installation, 20 min (TBC)

Artist : Chantana Tiprachart

Venue : Nova Contemporary

SOO-KWAN2022 is a look at what is overexposed and underexposed and what remains in between in the Isaan region of Thailand. The title takes its name from Soo-Kwan, a ceremony in the region meant to summon a Kwan, a spiritual and metaphorical force (a kind of muse) of courage and livelihood to return to the body—a Kwan is a spirit that leaves the body when a person is frightened or traumatized, alive but only physically. In the work an image of a barren dark road sparsely lit is a common sight in rural Northeastern regions, but this darkness is constructed, deliberately from and to obscure the exploitation of labor and resources used to construct the shining center. Contradicting the dim streetlights are highly decorated royal facades, gateways, and ceremonial structures. The brightness of modernization has cast a large shadow, one that hides the conditions for building a nation-state. The glow of religion snuffs out other beliefs, relinquishing them to darkness. The trail of shadows behind us appear as spirits and ghosts, poverty in the fields. How then does one navigate these gaps of opacities and illuminate the self once again?

A Mor lam song sung throughout the work traces Issan’s history, telling tales from forced assimilation to the purging of communists with messages of disobedience passed down through rhyme and rhythm to reinvigorate the spirit. SOO-KWAN2022 at once laments past and present injustices and is a ritual to summon the Kwan that has been forced out and construct again our own image, to make visible in a light returned. Assessing the ever-changing dynamics of Thai culture from high to low, as well as the forces that dictate and frame these narratives, telling stories from the margins of Isaan has always been a part of Chantana Tiprachart’s practice. Operating on commercial and non-commercial fronts, her stories string together myths and the present, dissolving barriers of culture and offering alternatives to being Thai.

Commissioned by Ghost Foundation, Bangkok.

Produced by the Han Nefkens Foundation, Barcelona with additional support from Mae-Ruay Snack Food Factory Co., Ltd.