Indian artists Sunil Gupta and Balbir Krishan, who have been on the forefront of the discourse on the country's queer art, will be among the 59 Southeast Asian artists exhibiting at Asia's largest LGBTQ-themed exhibition here.
"SPECTROSYNTHESIS II - Exposure of Tolerance: LGBTQ in Southeast Asia", that opens to public on November 23, is expected to be the largest-ever survey of regional contemporary art exploring lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and queer creative history in the region.
The over 3-month long show is being jointly organised by Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) and Sunpride Foundation, and has been curated by BACC director Chatvichai Promadhattavedi.
SPECTROSYNTHESIS II is the second stop of Sunpride Foundation's touring exhibition following the success of its acclaimed "SPECTROSYNTHESIS - Asian LGBTQ Issues and Art Now" that was presented in the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei in Taiwan in 2017.
The upcoming show seeks to create a dialogue around the issue of different sexual preferences and gender identities, while highlighting how boundaries are shifting, social frameworks are opening and established norms and values are being called into question.
Featuring artists from Southeast Asia, alongside artists of Indian and Chinese descent whose cultural influence and migration have helped shape the region, the exhibition provides a context in which the acceptance of LGBTQ communities has emerged, reflecting the region's unique melting pot of cultural and religious traditions.
"In SPECTROSYNTHESIS II, the artistic dialogue is focused on tolerance and acceptance of sexual and gender diversity, yet the pertinence of this conversation moves beyond the LGBTQ community.
"What makes this show so powerful and critical is the fact that most artists are personally involved or can identify with the issue. More crucially, the dialogue is about the freedom that art offers: the expression of the individual struggles for gender recognition and normalisation; the battles fought for human rights; and winning respect amongst peers," Promadhattavedi said.
The exhibition will have on display several brand new works, including two of Krishan's paintings, created exclusively for the show.
Krishan, who once received backlash for his works about the gay community, will showcase two paintings portraying the differences before and after the repeal of section 377 of the Indian penal code that criminalised homesexuality.
They are titled, "Before: Section 377 - Don’t Love, Don’t Breathe, Don’t Live", and "After: Section 377 - Love Equally, Love Freely, Love Proudly".
Thai artist Jakkai Siributr has created his installation 'Quilt Project' (2019) as a response to his country's exclusionary practices and rules, which continue to exist despite Thailand's progress towards legalising same-sex civil unions.
Comprising three new large-scale textile works, measuring two metres, seeks at immortalising the pain of pubescence.
The geometric motifs are a play on the pink triangles once used by the Nazi party to identify and shame homosexuals - now reclaimed by the gay community as a symbol of pride.
Arin Rungjang, who represented Thailand in the 55th Venice Biennale, has created a new five-channel video installation, titled "Welcome to My World" (2019). Informed by his childhood fascination of a transsexual acquaintance, his work will bring issues concerning diversity and social acceptance to the fore.
Malaysian artist Anne Samat, a pioneer of woven art, will present her commissioned work "Conundrum Ka Sorga" (2019), a culmination of the artist’s acclaimed assemblage series.
Samat's trademark androgynous sculpture, a three-metre-long rainbow-coloured train made of woven materials, will reveal the artist’s preoccupation with the "ideal form" as well as her desire for the community to rise from the ashes like a phoenix.
The show will also feature six pieces of photography by the late Chinese artist Ren Hang, who suffered from depression before tragically ending his life in 2017 while his works were on show in Stockholm.
The artist employed photography to depict spontaneity, where naked subjects, mostly the artist's friends, are seen in sexually explicit and sculptural poses.
"Ren’s carefully constructed photography possess a distinct, surrealist aesthetic, and yet, despite the colourful scenes of youthful bodies, his images project a sense of loneliness and suppression, mirroring his personal battle with mental illness," organisers said.
Other exhibiting artists include Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran from Sri Lanka, Christopher Cheung and Jes Fan from Hong Kong, Dinh Q. Lê and Danh Vō from Vietnam, David Medalla from Philippines, Hui-Yu Su from Taiwan, and Lyno Vuth from Cambodia.
"We are very honoured to have Chatvichai Promadhattavedi and his team on board; they have been working tirelessly to put together such a strong line-up of artists and curation of artworks for SPECTROSYNTHESIS II. I look forward to seeing how the exhibition will encourage greater discussion and foster a more equitable world for the LGBTQ community and their allies," Patrick Sun, Executive Director of Sunpride Foundation, said.
A number of public talks focused on LGBTQ issues, as well as the region’s broader social and cultural context, led by Promadhattavedi, as well as exhibition researchers Brian Curtin, Samak Kosem and Patticha Thitithamaporn and other key figures of the LGBTQ community are also part of the line-up.
The exhibition is set to continue till March 1.
With inputs from PTI.