26 Feb Nino Returns
25 February 2019
Her experiential installation at Wat Prayoon in the frame of the Bangkok Art Biennale was undoubtedly one of its highlights. Now Nino Sarabutra has paired up with fellow ceramic craftsman Wasinburee Supanichvoraparch to create an exciting take on traditional techniques combined with a modern touch.
Expanding upon their ever increasing internationally revered portfolio of ceramic works, the world renown contemporary craftspeople join forces for “Gift | Tribute | Taboo – What Are We Gifting?”, a duo porcelain exhibition at ARDEL’s Third Place Gallery.
Latitudes managed to dip into Nino’s studio, as she was applying the last strokes to her creative take on an ancient Chinese craft. Through their works, the duo will be discussing the concept of “giving” either through a sincere approach or by reciprocal means – having a hidden benefit.
For Nino’s contribution to the collection, she has recreated traditional blue and white Chinese vases she has experienced in many places around the globe. Individually hand painting each vase, Nino has retained the traditional methods (painting floral and dragons designs), on one side of the vase whilst adding a contemporary twist on the other. Nino expressed that her reasoning for this was to display the gift as it would be received whilst also displaying the plausible intent of the gifter on the other.
“We’re looking into the objective behind ‘gifting,’ or giving tribute since the history of time. Everywhere in the world, you see these ruined white and blue china housed in places like state museums, private homes, and auction houses. They’re everywhere, yet they’re so expensive? I couldn’t help but wonder ‘Why do people gift them [blue & white Chinese vases]?” said Nino.
Given the historical account of these so-called “Soldier vases”, a.k.a. ‘Dragoon vases’ the duo was inspired by the ancient concept of gifting/giving tribute used by European royals when 151 blue and white porcelain vases from the Ming and Qing Dynasties were sent by King Frederick William I of Brandenburg and Prussia to Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland in exchange for a regiment of dragoons (600 cavalry soldiers), in 1717 which changed the direction of war, with art.
In telling Latitudes what she wished to achieve in this show, Nino explained she wanted the audience to question the true motives of gifting and receiving gifts, adding that there
is nothing free in the world.
“You have to be careful when you receive a gift, imagine it’s a million-Baht-gift, so why would someone give you something that expensive?” Nino expressed, “Even though they’re just gifts, be careful what they might ask you in return, you might have to pay back in a form of a signature that could destroy a mountain, or it could be a deal that you regret signing.”
Nino’s creative process is a mix of traditional designs with her own interpretations of modern-day issues. For example, a Disneyland design on a vase would represent something commercial while a rocket design would represent a war.
“Look into Ming dynasty ceramics and see the beauty behind them, I take that beauty and put my interpretation. I guess what could be a possible effect of that,” Nino told Latitudes while holding her vase with a bomb design, explaining how the design symbolizes the sarcasm of gifting that one would never know what he or she will get after receiving these expensive gifts from, say, powerful people.
“The bomb may represent the money in the war as one can imagine how much money an individual or corporation stand to gain, so the war in this sense is more costly than a banknote. Because not only it costs a lot of money (banknotes), it can also cost many lives as well” she explains.
Nino may seem like a cynic when it comes to gifting, though her belief that no one gives anything without anything in return remains. For example, you might give your niece a Christmas present but there’s a big chance that you might want her love and affection in return.
“You might say that you don’t expect anything in return but you somehow you still can’t really say that you don’t expect, at least a kiss or hugs from your niece. That is expecting no matter how pure the heart is” says the artist.
So, to sum up the concept of this collection, no one gives anything without expecting anything in return, essentially nothing is ever given for free but the expectation for the returns of the gift can be a good one, it doesn’t always have to be with malicious intent or even damaging or costly.
“I just want the audience to be aware that “gifting” could have effects that are not necessarily good, it could be harmful and dangerous. Most people have good hearts, they may gift you with pure love but just be aware that there’s always the other side.”
Nino’s works often explore human behaviors, emotions, and existence. She gave us a little hint that her upcoming work will be a continuation of ‘What Will You Leave Behind?’ a thought-provoking experiential installation where she invited us to contemplate our mortality, currently installed at Wat Prayoon Temple as part of the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018.
However, as a pairing, the artistic duo wishes to explore the historical footnotes of an event some 300 years ago and how it relates to the modern world. This exhibition not only aunts their talents with ceramics, their individualistic approach to a dualistic concept both in a spiritual or mindful sense, and in the material as well, but the often overlooked intentions of giving a gift.
Nino and Wasinburee ask of you, the viewer, to think deeply when receiving a seemingly kind offering – to what ends do they offer me this kindness and what will be expected of me in return. Not only do they intend for you to think as the receiver, though they also implore you to consider your own gift giving – what are my intentions, am I purely giving for the sake of giving, to create happiness in the gifting or is my intent more malevolent or even selfish in nature.
Gift | Tribute | Taboo–What Are We Gifting? by Nino Sarabutra and Wasinburee Supanichnoraparch
From January 22 to March 2,
ARDEL’s Third Place Gallery