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Since the 1990s, Thai contemporary art has achieved international recognition, circulating globally by way of biennials, museums, and commercial galleries. Many Thai artists have shed identification with their nation; but “Thainess” remains an interpretive crutch for understanding their work. In this book, the curator and critic David Teh examines the tension between the global and the local in Thai contemporary art. Writing the first serious study of Thai art since 1992, he describes the competing claims to contemporaneity, as staked in Thailand and on behalf of Thai art elsewhere. He shows how the values of the global art world are exchanged with local ones, how they do and don’t correspond, and how these discrepancies have been exploited. How can we make sense of globally circulating art without forgoing the interpretive resources of the local, national, or regional context? Teh examines the work of artists who straddle the local and the global, becoming willing agents of assimilation yet resisting homogenization. He describes the transition from an artistic subjectivity couched in terms of national community to a more qualified, postnational one, against the backdrop of the singular but waning sovereignty of the Thai monarchy and sustained political and economic turmoil.
About the Author
David Teh is assistant professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the National University of Singapore. He is an independent curator and critic who has organized exhibits in Europe, Australia, and across Southeast Asia.