Artist Tom Sachs has been invited to participate in the third edition of Bangkok Art Biennale. Specially created for the event, his work responds to the theme of CHAOS : CALM, which reflects the unpredictable conditions that the world has endured over the past few years, from the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change and socio-political unrest.
A relentlessly innovative and subversive sculptor, Tom Sachs is best known for his elaborate, bricolage recreations of masterpieces of engineering and design: the themes central to his universal focus on American culture and society, which he treats with a heavy dose of humour and irony. He playfully engages with the corporate ecosystem and the idea of 'brand image' by riffing on luxury consumer items and global brands, which are transformed through their reconceptualisation within an art context.
For the Bangkok Art Biennale, a traditional Thai Hua Tong longtail boat, indigenous to the South of Thailand, becomes a vessel that joins Tom Sachs’s ongoing Space Program project (2007-) under the title Space Program: INFINITY. Since the conception of the series, this body of work has expanded to include Space Program: Mars(2012), Space Program: Europa (2016), Space Program: Rare Earths (2021) and Space Program: Indoctrination(2022).
Fostered through an extensive collaboration between Sachs, Tom Sachs Studio, boat builders in Krabi in southern Thailand, and the family-run boatyard at Wat Bawornmongkol, a fisherman’s longtail boat is given a second life to embark upon a journey through time and space. In keeping with the traditions of boatmaking in Thailand, as well as the rituals that accompany this long-standing craft, a hybrid vessel is fabricated through the dialogue sustained between Sachs and the craftsmen based in their mutual love for the sea.
It was Sachs’s encounter with a longtail boat on his first visit to Thailand in 2012 that inspired this project and a seafaring boat from the south of Thailand will have its maiden river voyage on the Chao Phraya before being installed as a sculpture. Like the tide and wind that inform life at sea, there is no finite end to the journey as long as the spirit of collaboration and exploration continues. The boat takes on its second life as the INFINITY and, here in Bangkok, it begins the first leg of its new journey.
A vessel and crew that searches beyond the realms of the physical consensual reality into other dimensions of perception and cultural norms in search of cosmic truths and states of being. – Tom Sachs