Laboratory 88: The AiR We Breathe exhibition

From 11 March to 2 April 2023 Studio 88 Artist Residency in Doi Saket will host the exhibition “Laboratory 88”, which brings together international and Thai artists to explore air quality as part of the Chiang Mai ART for AIR festival.

Curated by U Bat Sat, artist and ART for AIR committee member, the exhibition explores a range of themes, such as burning, water, forests, air particles and the sound of the breath. Find out more about the artists and their works here and join us for the opening at 11am on Saturday 11 March.

Laboratory 88

In 2042 an earthquake disaster on Mae Khue Fault in Doi Saket District leads to wildfires, gale force winds during monsoon season and a dust pollution surge over vast areas; one-third of the population suffers and dies from respiratory diseases. The environmental crisis has reached a tipping point.

S88 and a research team conduct field surveys to interview local people, collect samples of Techno Sapien remains, take photos and gather data of the natural resources, record and analyse data, collect seeds and cultivate them and install a small portable art lift pump to increase the dispersion of water spray in order to reduce air pollution.

At the same time, severe drought expands dramatically due to extreme weather and climate change. The research team finds some animal species at the village reservoir that were contaminated by microplastics which caused mutations. They also find fossils – chicken legs containing DNA. They record sounds of bird and insects to create an ecosystem and invent thin insulated solar panels to boost fertility.

This project aims at raising awareness and understanding on global warming, air pollution, and contaminants, which are affecting lives. We hope this project will be a part of creating change for a better future.

U Bat Sat

The artists and their work

Jacob Black (UK), photographer

Jacob Black is a British award-winning artist and photographer. Through a passion for the social sciences and lens-based documentation, Jacob completed a BA in Politics and an MA in Photojournalism. In 2022 Jacob exhibited his work Forget Me Not in galleries in London and New York. He contributed images and text to publications such as The Royal Photographic Society and the Tate Modern’s book collection. Jacob recently won the 2022 Lensculture B&W awards and is a recipient of the Lensculture working grant for his work “I Cannot Wipe Sunrise Down My Jumper to Get Rid of Fingerprints”, to be exhibited at Photo London 2023. Jacob is currently exploring the topic of air pollution for his residency at Studio 88, during which he is participating in the Art for Air Festival Chiangmai 2023.

“Coming Up For Air” looks to visualise and make a tangible response to the PM 2.5 air pollution in Chiang Mai through processes-driven photographic experimentation of the material aspects of both analogue photography and air pollution. “Coming Up For Air” takes physical samples of wild and controlled fires, adding samples to developed film negatives through a variety of methods. The fires leave a mark on the physical aspects of the film, stripping the emulsion, burning through the layers of plastic and leaving behind visible particle matter. After the negatives have been altered they are photographed individually, exploring the effects of the fires on the physical characteristic of the film. Then selected negatives are put into the camera chamber with unexposed film and photographs are made in areas surrounding the city of Chiang Mai. The works are both subtly scarred with black lines, heat bubbles, and small fragments of dust and debris. This tactile approach attempts to create a tangible collaboration between the physical effects of air pollution while experimenting with the visual capabilities and limitations of documentary photography in visualising what we cannot see.

Wanlop Hansunthai (Thailand), artist

Wanlop Hansunthai graduated with a BA in painting, from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Chiang Mai University. Intrigued by the man–nature relationship as observed in everyday life, Hansunthai uses a variety of media – including painting, photography, sculpture, video, mixed media, and installation – to express his thoughts and perspective, and to reflect on reality and facts. His notable exhibits in 2022 include the solo exhibitions “The Presence of Silence“ at Gallery Seescape and “Against the Wall” at Numthong Art Space, which was inspired by stories of historical and contemporary wars, and a group exhibition “Face to Face: A Recollection Through Portraits from MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum”.

In the present stories of the manufacturing industry have replaced and obscured human existence, causing many of our surroundings to be swallowed up. Even the food industry, which is the backbone of society’s nourishment and livelihood, all of which directly and indirectly impacts the environment.

Annelie Hendriks (The Netherlands/Thailand), artist

Annelie Hendriks is a Dutch national who has lived in Chiang Mai for the last 23 years. The ups and downs in her life have brought her to her new ambition: Multimedia Storytelling. She digitalises her images and documents, her memories and experiences, her personal processing and new creativity, in order to archive and create new products. During the 20-month lock-down in Australia, Annelie took photography courses and that helped her explore her creative practice and photographic material in new ways. In January 2023, Annelie exhibited her first solo exhibition “Icebound” at Weave Artisan Society in Chiang Mai.

In May 2022, on the way from the south of Thailand to the north, I walked on a beach. It looked serene at first but then I noticed the beach was littered with plastic, which was thrown by the sea back onto the beach. It made walking over the beach almost impossible. It was disgusting. I made a lot of photographs of this garbage belt, carefully examining the objects, the arrangements of man-made objects, that do not move, contrasting them against a background which is in principle pristine. I thought, these are the new Still Life portraits of our contemporary society.

Juno Benyapa Jassen (Thailand), visual artist

Juno Benyapa Jassen is Thai visual artist who founded JUNO’s JUNGLE, which is a blend of Lanna tradition and contemporary aesthetic with a quirky twist. JUNO’s JUNGLE is strongly based in the geographical context of the northern city of Chiang Mai. Surrounded by nature, the design incorporated natural materials such as plants and upcycled silk, ocean scrabs, alongside recycled materials, offering a contemporary aesthetic. While many patterns give a nod to her cultural origin, they also take inspiration from other cultural references in Asia to create different art pieces.

I can’t breathe, my eyes hurt, oh my! It’s a swear word most often used by members of the house in the early years. How will we be in 10 years or 20 years from now? Will this become a place where we can see the trees but we can’t breathe or take a deep breathe. How will it be? Should we have our own personal oxygen tank? Or should we solve the problem at the root cause now? In the future, there will be no need to wear masks, or wear goggles, outside at all time. Will it be as you hoped?

Sirawit Meunpiew (Thailand), video artist

Video artist Sirawit Meunpiew studied at Sarasas Witaed Bangbon School. He graduated from the Fine Arts Department of Saowabha Vocational College and also graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Poh-Chang Academy of Arts, Rajamangala University of Technology Rattanakosin. He has experience in managing teams for artistic projects such as “The Abramovic Method”, created by Marina Abramovic for the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018, at the Moving system pavilion at Wonderfruit. His exhibitions have included the Buddhist Quotient “interpreting Buddhism through the new generation”, The 4th “Beauty in Similarity”, PI-DA They said “Lanthom”, Unmute project and Ban Wonder at Wonderfruit. He has also participated in the young artists talent project in 2021.

The behaviour of people in society so far unintentionally harms the environment. Although there have been many environmental campaigns, the industrial sector still produces a lot of polluting waste. In the outskirts of Samut Sakhon, where I live, there is a lot of garbage such as construction waste, Styrofoam, and broken pieces of wood dumped in public places, in the forest or left out of place. This behaviour affects animal habitats and views of the city. It also causes unpleasant smells in some areas. Burning plastic waste is a source of air pollution that is harmful to human health and impacts global warming. I hope that my works of art will inspire myself and some people in society to use less plastic or use eco-friendly alternatives to plastic. The price of alternative materials should be affordable for people of all classes. Then we will see a significant change.

Sornsak Sakbodin (Thailand), photographer

Sornsak Sakbodin is a photographer based in Chiangmai. He was a former Advertising Photographer at Sorn’s Studio, San Francisco, California, U.S.A. (1972-1988). He is also the Founder of the Black and White Photographic Society of Thailand (BWThai). Currently he runs Sorn’s Café and Restaurant, in Doi Saket, Chiangmai.

These photos aim to raise awareness of the air we breathe. They reflect how the air was (when seen).

Samran Thongprig (Thailand) mixed media sculptor

Samran Thongprig graduated with Vocational Certificate of Education from the College of Fine Arts, Lat Krabang, Bangkok and a BA in printing, from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Chiang Mai University. His exhibitions include “Re-set” Art Exhibition Creative Nakhon Festival 4, Nakhon Si Thammarat (2021), Chang Moi Art Village, Chiang Mai Design Week, Chiang Mai (2021), Chiang Mai x Nakanajo International Exchange Exhibition 2022 at Chiang Mai Art Museum (2022) and “Treasure Discovered” by Mango Art Festival at De Siam in Hangdong, Chiang Mai (2022).

Air is essential to the growth of living things, from small cells to bigger ones. Every life is happy if the air is good. Every life is happy if the environment is good. The charred art series tells the story of air and life, respect for nature, and mutual respect for existence. Without air there is no life. “Because air is alive, life has air, because air is part of life.” When we see a rock and stream of water, we will see living things. It is a representation of life. So, I made a work that is like an air doll that is flat without air inside. It is lifeless and placed against a rock. To achieve life is to revitalise living beings, which bring lifeless things back to life.

Claire Rosslyn Wilson (Australia/Spain), videopoet and Dr Ross DJ McLennan (Australia), sound artist

Claire Rosslyn Wilson is a poet, researcher and freelance cultural writer based in Barcelona. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals and in 2014 she was a Hot Desk Fellow at the Wheeler Centre. Her videopoems have been exhibited in Australia, Spain, USA, Sweden, Italy and Greece. She has authored a number of publications on art and sustainability and an essential part of this work has been an exploration of the nexus between art and sustainability.

Dr Ross DJ McLennan is an Australian composer, sound designer, researcher, educator, filmmaker, game designer, songwriter and musician. His professional practice includes sound design, music production, filmmaking, poetry, song and lyric writing, music performance, electronic music, an opera, a symphony and media work for film, television, games, theatre and the concert stage. Ross was educated at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, the University of Queensland and the University of Cambridge.

In the era of human-provoked climate crisis, the videopoem “Suspended Particles” explores the potential of fluid states of the things around us as a way to challenge a human-centric perception of the world. Working translocally, a collaboration between Spanish-based videopoet Claire Rosslyn Wilson and Australian sound artist Ross McLennan, the project asks, how might we co-habit with the non-human elements in our city? Using videpoetry techniques—such as layering, subtext, and juxtaposition—to explore the particles in the air we breathe. The project is intended to emphasise the interconnected exchanges in natural processes that cross city borders and impact residents across national lines.

Pisithpong Siraphisut (Thailand/USA), multidisciplinary artist and Manon Wada (USA), interdisciplinary artist

Pisithpong Siraphisut aka Ong, is a multidisciplinary artist who creates works in a diverse range of media. In 2006, he established ComPeung, Thailand’s first independent artist residency programme, where he has collaborated with artists from across the globe, diverse in discipline, age, gender, and background. Siraphisut has participated in art projects and exhibitions worldwide, including in Thailand, Nepal, India, Japan, and the United States. He immigrated from Chiang Mai to Rochester, New York, in the winter of 2019.

Manon Wada is an interdisciplinary artist originally from, and currently based in, New York City, USA, on Canarsie Munsee Lenape land. Her art practice takes form as installation, sculpture, and video, which frequently intersects with poetry. In tandem she often works collaboratively and on socially engaged projects. Wada has been an artist in residence at ComPeung in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Elsewhere Museum in Greensboro, USA, and A Place of Her Own in San Francisco, USA. Wada completed her MFA at Rhode Island School of Design and her BFA at California College of the Arts.

Artists Ong Siraphisut and Manon Wada collaborate on luminous installations at Studio 88 and Weave Artisan Society to call attention to the air quality crisis in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Site responsive installations air we share use Mylar emergency blankets to offer temporary relief from hot weather and are also impacted by wind onsite, making air visible. The audience is invited to reflect within the work by breathing deeply and connecting to their own body of air. The interplay with the environment considers the influence of human activities on air and in turn, how we are affected. Translucent text appears on the Mylar mirroring a ghostly presence of air. The installations feature stencil work by U Bat Sat.

Kavin Pramesiripaisan (Thailand), photojournalist

Kavin Pramesiripaisan has completed a bachelor’s degree in Film and Screen studies and began working as a videographer and creative director. In 2021, His photography was featured in the American photography magazine, Photography Week Magazine. Soon after returning home to Thailand from Australia, He has endeavoured to explore the richness of Thai culture as well as the complex history of his people and the obstacles that young people in Thailand face today. These are the subjects of his work today as a photojournalist for a local news agency in Chiangmai and a volunteer photographer for Greenpeace, covering various environmental and political issues.

Privilege can be a nasty word. Those we associate with having privilege in Thailand are the limited few who have wealth or are in positions of power. Yet, it is often those without these traditional privileges that make the greatest impact. Some people have neither money nor power, but they have values and the ability to express them into something that matters. This could be through a photograph, a voice, a painting or simply a heart that brings everyone together. That is the kind of privilege that we should have. And it is the kind of privilege that changes the world.

If you’re interested in Studio 88’s AiR We Breathe programme, until 15 April 2023 you can apply for our May/June special residency period on the air and our environment.