Korakrit Arunanondchai: Digital Expressionism

Korakrit Arunanondchai (he likes to be called Krit for short), is a bright young Thai artist, working ceaselessly on projects that tantalize and challenge the senses. Since graduating from Columbia’s MFA program in 2012, Krit has produced a dizzying body of work, from electrifying collaborations with Spencer Sweeney and Brian Close creating party decorations at epic late-night revelries at Santos Party House to the sprawling NADA Art Fair Pool Party, alongside Columbia MFA fellow Molly Lowe. Krit’s personality shines through in his work and there’s pride of heritage and an assurance with a broad range of materials. And the whole thing—the person, the career advancing, the evolution of hair color and length—is just incredibly fun to watch. JM — Hey Krit, thanks for chatting with me.  Things seem to be picking up for you since graduating from Columbia’s MFA program.  How’s the artist’s life treating you? KA —  I’m having so much fun!  Life right now is entertaining in the most enriching sense. There’re a lot of stresses and intensities now that I’m doing it all the time but I’m learning to deal with it.  I wake up earlier and I go to bed later. JM —  Good call.  More hours in the day that way.  Where has your art practice taken you so far? KA —  Geographically it’s taking me to more places I wouldn’t have had a reason or budget to go to before. Experientially it’s taken me into different situations and psychological mindscapes that I find so interesting and also sometimes so un-grounding.That’s great.  The awkward stuff is important too. JM —  What’s coming up next? KA —  I’m working on a feature film for the next two years that’s going to require me to travel to many crazy places and figure a lot of things out as a human being. JM: Sounds intense! Are you able to talk about this any more? KA —  I don’t want to spoil it! I’m just at the very beginning of planning it. JM: C’mon, give us a tiny sliver of a spoiler. KA —  In short, the plot follows a 26-year-old Thai girl’s adventure to USA in search for her okcupid lover. The project was inspired by a lecture given in a Thai temple called Dhamakaya in the summer of 2012 about the afterlife of Steve Jobs. JM —  OK wow that’s just, fantastic.  Where are some of these crazy places the film is taking you? KA —  If everything goes according to plan we will be filming in Bangkok, on Thai beaches, in New York, New Jersey, LA, Joshua Tree and [Robert Smithson’s] Spiral JettyJM —  Love it.  Keep us updated.  What part of Thailand did you grow up in? KA —  In Bangkok—the financial district. JM —  How’d you end up here in the States? KA —  When I was in high school I was extremely bummed out.  I was like ‘I’m never going to get into the art school in Thailand because it is so skill based.’ I felt extremely stuck and unexcited. Plus my music career wasn’t taking off or going anywhere. I had to leave to get some perspective. JM —  Wait! I didn’t realize you were a musician?! What sort of music were you making? KA —  I was in a rock band that would do covers of Thai pop songs and stuff and I was writing my own songs too on the side but to be honest I just wasn’t good enough to make it on that Thai pop mainstream level.  Later I started rapping and that wasn’t too bad. JM —  Right, right, I know about the rapping.  That comes into play in a few of the videos and projects of yours that I’ve seen.  So how do you compare your work as a musician versus your work as an artist?  Is there any difference? KA —  For me my music practice is much smaller than my art practice and yes unfortunately there still is a separation.I want to go back to what you said about leaving Thailand to gain perspective. JM —  What do you think changed about the place or is it more something that changed in you?  Your MFA project included quite a lot of footage shot in Thailand.  I can’t say exactly why I feel the need to ask this, but I’ll go ahead and do it: Did you feel like an outsider shooting all that? Like a tourist in your own land? KA —  I don’t feel like a tourist, there’s just a different relationship. Maybe I look harder now. I think also this whole western education I got allows me to process familiar things with another point of view now. JM —  So did Thailand change or was it you? KA —  It was definitely a change in me more so than the place itself changing. It happens with everyone who leaves and goes back but you start to appreciate what is special about everything. JM —  Your party installations at Santos Party House were quite fun and extreme and added to a fully immersive party experience.  So many amazing elements involved.  Will you be doing more of that, since it fits in so closely with your own art practice? KA —  I want to be doing exhibitions that function as a party, a stage, a movie theatre, a club, a community garden etcetera. Santos was really an amazing experience but I also learnt that with any establishment – especially in New York City – come rules, politics and an agenda that is different from the one and now I want the opposite of that. JM —  What attracts you to these sensory-rich environments? KA —  I’m really into the idea of the gesamtkunstwerk, which basically just means the complete work. So I try and do that in the installations. I think this is where music and collaborations with performers come in. JM —  Ahhh yes, OK. It’s very much like making a film.  How important is collaboration in your work?  Do you enjoy guiding or directing people in your film or installation work?  Are you comfortable taking charge or is it more free form? KA —  Collaboration is super important in my work. I really want to create a space that is created through a mixture of my own subjectivities and my collaborator’s subjectivities.  Same goes for the decision-making. I don’t think I am very good at being a director and in this film I am hoping to take a more free form approach to it. I really believe in the people I am collaborating with and I think instead of directing, it will be more of a collaborative relationship.


CREDITS: stationtostation.com