Art is everywhere in Bangkok — in galleries, malls, cafes and even temples — and now also in Benjakitti Park, an urban green area with biodiverse ecosystems. “Greeting Benjakitti”, part of Unfold Bangkok organised by the Creative Economy Agency (CEA), the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, is now open to the public. Unfold Bangkok aims to introduce tourists to the charm of the capital which they may have never seen before.
The main focus of “Greeting Benjakitti” is five art installations created by five artists — Nino Sarabutra, Wit Pimkanchanapong, Sanitas Pradittasnee, Suriya Umpansiriratana and Pok Kobkongsanti. Angkrit Ajchariyasophon, the curator of the project, said that Benjakitti Park is loved by everyone due to its creative concept which allows everything to grow naturally. Therefore, art pieces which are exhibited in the park must fit with the theme of nature rather than being artificial.
“Nothing is more beautiful than nature. The seasonal changes of both landscapes and trees are truly magnificent. Art cannot compete with them, so we do not exhibit anything out of place,” said Angkrit.
As a result, the curator chose four artists who have backgrounds in landscape architecture. Only Nino is a ceramic artist. Angkrit explained he chose the ceramist because clay is considered one of the oldest materials humans used to create utensils. Since all artists worked with nature, the curator believed it was possible for them to create pieces that are in harmony with the park and that will gradually change along with it.
by Nino Sarabutra
Stingless Bee City by Wit Pimkanchanapong.
Located next to a pond, Hornbill Villa displays 200 pieces of pottery, a collaboration between Nino Sarabutra and artisans who create traditional clay jars at Baan Klang, Amphoe Tha Uthen in Nakhon Phanom. Nino was inspired to design Hornbill Villa when she was in Khao Yai. While waiting for hornbills to show up, a traveller showed her photos of one living in what used to be a large clay jar for making fermented fish, or pla ra. The hornbill had to live there because their natural habitat had been invaded and nesting cavities had been destroyed.
The artist decided to design large pieces of pottery so that birds and other small animals could make their homes there. Hornbill Villa is an experimental project to see if small creatures will live in the pottery pieces. The final day of “Greeting Benjakitti” is Sept 30. After that, the pottery will be moved to provinces where hornbills live.
Stingless Bee City
by Wit Pimkanchanapong
House Of Silence by Sanitas Pradittasnee. Photo: Rungkit Charoenwat
Stingless Bee City was inspired by patterns of pollen stems found in flowers and fruits. Wit said the idea of the sculpture came from his impression of the natural landscape of Benjakitti Park. He wanted to add something that would enhance the value of the park, so he decided to build hives for stingless bees. These bees are harmless and help pollination. The sculpture features a total of 72 beehives, 36 of which were initially empty. According to Wit, Stingless Bee City symbolises Bangkok’s acceptance of bees living alongside humans.
House Of Silence
by Sanitas Pradittasnee
The Circle Biogenesis 2023 by Suriya Umpansiriratana.
The vibes inside and outside Benjakitti Park are quite a contrast. While the park is serene, outside is chaos. The peacefulness inside the park inspired Sanitas to create a space where visitors can rest, be alone by themselves and observe their surroundings. At present, many people feel stressed and depressed. The artist believes that it is important to have a mindfulness space in the city, so people can live in the present moment.
The main material of the sculpture is mirror-finished stainless steel. Due to the arrangement of elements, House Of Silence looks different when viewed from different angles. From some, it appears opaque, while from others, it seems transparent. The materials reflect both existence and emptiness. As a person who meditates, the artist discovered that it helps her find a better balance in life. Therefore she wanted to offer those moments of alone time to everyone.
Suriya Umpansiriratana. Photo: Suriya Umpansiriratana
The Circle Biogenesis 2023
by Suriya Umpansiriratana
The Center Of The Universe by Pok Kobkongsanti.
The Circle Biogenesis 2023 is the only sculpture situated in water. Suriya placed it there to blend with the park and not obstruct the flow of visitors. Biogenesis 2023 is a circular piece which represents the 24 hours in a day and is divided into three parts, each representing eight hours.
The sculpture reminds visitors of the relationship between nature, life and the universe, the fact that everything ends where it began, and living through the integration of knowledge and technology.
The circle of life begins with sunlight passing through the solar panels which power the water pump to flood a rice paddy. At the same time, the rice converts sunlight into nutrients through photosynthesis and later becomes food for humans.
Pok Kobkongsanti. Creative Economy Agency (CEA)
The Center Of The Universe
by Pok Kobkongsanti
Pok initially let other artists choose their favourite spots, so he had to work in the cemented car park which is considered an unappealing location. However, Pok believed that it is the responsibility of designers to transform an unattractive space into an appealing one.
The Center Of The Universe features a series of kaleidoscopes. They create different perspectives of things that surround viewers through light, colour and dimensions. Each viewer will see different images of the park through the kaleidoscopes even though one viewer is standing right next to another.
Pok believes that having art pieces in the park is a terrific idea whether visitors like them or not. “Greeting Benjakitti” may encourage people to visit the park which is a good activity for everyone, including children.
The curator, Angkrit, hopes the exhibition will demonstrate that art can exist in a public park.
“The organisers for Benjakitti Park were worried that visitors may not like seeing art in a public park. I believe that art, creativity and nature are interconnected. Art is in nature and nature is in art. Whether visitors understand art or not, I hope they will open their minds and spend time with art pieces,” said Angkrit.
“Greeting Benjakitti” runs at Benjakitti Park, Ratchadaphisek Road, Klong Toey, until Sept 30. Admission is free. For more information, visit cea.or.th.
Suwitcha ChaiyongRead More