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THE HUNTERS

Artists: Maryanto (Yogyakarta) và Ruangsak Anuwatwimon (Bangkok)
Curated by ‘Pollination’ curators: LIR (Yogyakarta) và Kittima Chareeprasit (Chiang Mai)
Exhibition dates: March 19, 2021 (Opening 19 March 2021 @ MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, Chiang Mai, Thailand)
Organized by: The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre (Ho Chi Minh City)
Co-sponsored by: SAM Fund for Art & Ecology and MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum

‘The Hunters’ is the resulting exhibition of the third edition of Pollination’. This two-person exhibition concludes an extensive collaborative research undertaken in the last 12 months beneath Mount Merapi, Yogyakarta, and along the river routes of the lower Mekong, on the borders between Thailand and Laos. Prompted by the artistic languages and methods of chosen artists Maryanto and Ruangsak, ‘Pollination’ curators LIR and Kittima have curated ‘The Hunters’. Hosted by the MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum in Chiang Mai, both artists are creating new bodies of work, inspired by local folk-lore which share the lives of particular mythical ‘hunter’, comparing the ethos of their stories to our contemporary moment. Maryanto’s tent-like installations, composed of paintings in charcoal and earth, share local knowledge of living with respect for Nature and its spirits, concerned by the impact of illegal, corporate and government hunting of water and sand, beneath Mount Merapi (Maryanto’s home turf). Ruangsak’s varied installations beg acknowledgement of the many animals whose lives are jeopardized along the heavy damming of the Mekong, creating various diorama from their bones as monument to their spirits that once guarded this crucial waterway. Such projects are but the beginning of what will be presented, ultimately throwing into question the assumptions and illusions of resource and their landscape, critical of social reliance on instruments of science and technology, deeply aware of how their manipulation leads to ignorance, misinformation and greed.

Crucially, Maryanto and Ruangsak are compelled by the realities faced by local peoples living with such exploitation, and thus the curators also intend to showcase the artistic research of each artist (photographic and film documentation; sketches, sound recordings and more), alongside a dedicated video interview between the artists unpacking their relationship to the idea of the ‘hunter’ and how this unveils in their artistic practices.

As further reflection on the overall ‘Pollination’ project, the curators share:

‘On the day of our first in-situ meeting for our Pollination project, in Yogyakarta, the first Covid-19 case in Indonesia was announced. In Thailand, the announcement came a few weeks before. The crisis has escalated to a global pandemic, a global experience, highlighting not only the performance of systems and government capabilities in handling critical circumstances, but also in tandem revealing this pandemic is inextricably tied to the environmental crisis facing our earth. This illness, once confined to animals[1] has been transmitted to humans, and has mutated into multiple different strains (invariably due to reckless human mobility). The virus could be seen as a form of retaliation imposed by the earth for our exploitation of its resources, reflecting the way in which humans have encroached upon, and violated nature as a ‘hunter’.  As borders close and strict lockdowns are enforced, human mobility is restricted for safety concerns. With our ‘Pollination’ project, under such circumstances, we focus on our local geographical imaginations, digging deeper, primarily focusing on local embodied knowledge[2], seeking insight on how to balance human desire with its object, considering the impact of such ‘hunt’ on both human and non-human alike. We thus tried to find ways of ‘gathering’​ knowledge from different bodies of lore by following the natural trails of rivers and mountains, sinking islands and backyard cemeteries, to home-gardening and sites of deforestation across South East Asia, and other comparable environmental issues closer to home’.

This third edition of ‘Pollination’, whose research began pre-pandemic in 2020, is composed of an exhibition, symposia and dedicated website:

  • ‘The Hunters’ – Exhibition opening 19 March 2021 @ MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum (Chiang Mai)
  • ‘The Gatherers’ – Symposia (online) from 28 to 30 May 2021, co-hosted by The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre (Ho Chi Minh City) and Selasar Sunaryo Art Space (Bandung)
  • ‘www.ofhuntersandgatherers.com’ – Dedicated website launching 28 May, 2021 (with additional sponsorship from the Grey Center of Art and Enquiry, University of Chicago)

With contributions by Tita Salina, Sutthirat Supaparinya, Prilla Tania, The Forest Curriculum, and Wut Chalanant (artists); Elisabeth D. Inandiak, Adam Bobbette, JJ Rizal, and Napak Serirak (writers, academics); alongside ‘Pollination’ participants Maryanto and Ruangsak Anuwatwimon (artists) and LIR and Kittima Chareeprasit (curators). Edited by Zoe Butt and Lee Weng Choy.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7487339/ and https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-17687-3 The covid-19 case was first suspected to be carried and transmitted from animal to human although the role of animal in this case turns out to be still up for debate.
[2] ‘Local embodied knowledge’ is here understood as ‘local wisdom’ within the Indonesian context; or as ‘local spiritual knowledge’ within the Thai context. Both these attempts at translating local words “kearifan lokal” and ‘ภูมิปัญญาท้องถิ่น’ into English are, however, insufficient. In short, ‘local embodied knowledge’ refers to the practice of learning whereby the body receives ‘practice’ in specific sites, with specific rituals. It is understood that the experiential knowing of knowledge and its continuous presence in community – via oral storytelling, spiritual or religious ritual, folkloric superstition – are undervalued or little taught within the dominant cultural memory of both countries. In the context of ‘Pollination #3’, ‘local embodied knowledge’ is particularly explored in relation to ideas of human ecology and its natural environment.)

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