Testimonial: Oli Gnani

In March and April 2023 Swiss artist Oli Gnani was an artist-in-residence at Studio 88. Here they told us a bit about their experience and what they got up to during the residency.

During my artist residency Aom helped me to connect with several Thai and international artists, which I am very thankful for. I got to know the art scene in Thailand very quickly and got a chance to figure out the direction my artworks will go. I’ve learned about the art industry, researched about the situation of LGBTQIA+ people, queer artists and the acceptance of them in the society and the legal state of Queers.

Working title: Out of the binary, artist: Oli Gnani (none/they). At Studio 88.

I worked on different art series during my stay, all of them were about questioning gender stereotypes in several ways. The world we exist in is a heteronormative universe. We are pressured to live in one of the two binaries that were decided when we were born.

As a non-binary person and an artist I challenge and mirror these given norms and explore possibilities in-between masculinity and femininity to create a fluid version of being.

I use Drag as an art form of expression, I used my body as material, my face as my canvas. Each day I chose to be a different character, played with different clothing, make up and body expressions. I researched how people are reacting to it in daily life, during day and night. I wrote about my experiences and feelings in a journal.

Working title: Dis(embodying), artist: Oli Gnani (none/they), photography, lightning and fashion design: Juno; Benyapa Janssen (she/her). Centre of Chiang Mai.

In one series I worked with Juno (Benyapa Janssen), a Thai fashion designer and artist. We did a photoshoot in Chiang Mai old city. She helped with photography, lightning and fashion design.

In another work I did a collaboration with the performance artist Golf (Thanupon Yindee). We both have a background in performance art, Drag and being Queer. We both understood the cultural background of each other, because he also did an artist residency in Switzerland.

My work about gender identities will continue and I am interested to work in the future again with artists from Thailand and Southeast Asia. Since Thai society is very open to Queer people, and I already have started to connect with locals, I would like to come back for collaborations and exhibitions. I’m very thankful for my experience in the artist residency programme at Studio 88. Aom helped and organised a lot for me and did research in advance to help me get the best experience possible.

You can read more about Oli’s work here.