Looking for Shadows

What did I do during my last week in Bangkok, besides lots of dancing, sleeping in and enjoying the beautiful company of Ietje? Well, obviously, I made another exhibition - the logical thing to do when you have an art gallery at your disposal.

The mildew prints I buried and hid throughout the streets of Bangkok were relatively successful. I managed to hunt out most of the smaller prints but many of them had warped and swollen or had dried-out and didn’t show any change. A selection of the more successful smaller ones I will take back to New Zealand, but I am currently undecided about what to do with them.

The larger sheets of card developed surprisingly evenly, and the mildew spores and pigments came up in rather painterly fashion. The seven I installed in the gallery space were mounted on wooden bases, making them read more as canvases, like all-over abstract expressionist paintings. They were hung around the peripheries of the gallery space, framed strategically among the architectural features and intersecting walls so they asserted a sense of belonging.

They have a grubbiness and a strong gothic presence of decay and earth, which is countered by their (subjective) beauty and the delicate finery of the tiny spore spots. They would exhibit comfortably alongside the bas-relief rubbing taken from Phra Bodhisattva Cave (which I posted from the National Museum in February); they share a similar worn, mottled aesthetic, while also both being a form of time capsule and a printed impression of the physical landscape.

A parallel can be seen between these works and the effect that living in a new city has on oneself. Initially, arriving in an unexplored city, even though you can adorn a new, clean, freeing garment of anonymity, the city seeps into your being and changes your outlook on the world, and yourself. After three months these works now wear the grime and heat and fumes of Bangkok, while I carry with me lessons and experiences, as well as memories, connections and love for new friends.

I hope this experimentation will lead to some promising projects in the future, but while I write this I am simply relieved to be nearing the end of such a sweaty sweaty month.

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