We posed Apichaya Wanthiang a few questions, touching on ricotta spinach tortellini, artificial time, and traveling.
Live Drønen: Hi Piya. What was the last book you read and the last meal you ate?
Apichaya Wanthiang: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and ricotta spinach tortellini with bacon and kale.
Sounds delicious. What was better, the book or the meal?
– Close call. Probably the book, although I made a soup with the pasta broth this time and thought it was a good recipe for winter days.
In your exhibition at UKS you transpose Thailand-time onto the approaching winter days of Oslo. What do you think that does to the audience?
– I hope that it makes material different cycles of time, which we normally don’t get to experience simultaneously. Inside the exhibition, the transferred Thai time meets Oslo’s fast-settling dusk, which also meet the fictionalized and artificial time of the breathing clay sculptures. I had hoped that it would be similar to the experience of sitting in a train and watching the landscape and other trains passing by: a moment suitable to introspection.
I hadn’t thought about that, but spending time in the exhibition does really connect to the feeling of sitting on a train. Speaking of traveling, what places have you visited this year?
– Besides visiting family, I haven’t traveled much this year. But two summers ago, I traveled with my partner from Oslo to Palermo by interrail, and caught documenta, the Venice Biennale, and Skulptur Projekte Münster on the way. I would like to redo that trip but plan for less art on the way. When trying to see so much, you end up not having the capacity to take it all in.
You see a lot of art and you make a lot of art. What do you think is the best painting and the best installation ever done by any artist?
– It’s too much pressure to call a single work the best. A work with lasting impressions that I often revisit while in the studio is Mike Nelson’s I, Impostor—an immersive installation that was shown at the Venice Biennale in 2011. In terms of painting I have an extra interest in places, such as Monet’s waterlilies at L’Orangerie in Paris, just to name one, because it deals with the painting in relation to the space or vice versa. Within Oslo I’ve been very impressed by Emanuel Vigeland’s mausoleum. I really like how the body needs to attune to the darkness; it’s haunting, dramatically violent and timeless.
In your exhibition, the body also meets darkness, and over the time that he show has been up we’ve seen that a lot of visitors stay quite a while in the space. Why do you think that is?
– By the time visitors enter the exhibition space they’ve already committed to spending time: they are passing by during unusual opening hours and taking off jackets and shoes. Once inside, it’s warm and there are places to sit and lay down if you want. There’s a lot of repetition in the space, from the breathing cycles of light, to the frantic movements of the mayflies. It’s hypnotic on the one hand and very undemanding on the other: there’s no direct narrative to “deconstruct” or analyze.
We’re now entering the last day to spend time in your exhibition at UKS, and we’ll soon enter a new year. What happens next?
– I’ll be focusing on teaching next semester. I’m working with the bachelor program at the Art Academy in Trondheim towards their yearly graduation show. It’s been healthy to step out of my own head and spend time with other people’s work, drives, and doubts—it does put things in perspective. A series of discursive events in collaboration with Johnny Herbert and Louise Dany are also upcoming, and I’ll study and prepare calmly towards a public commission and solo exhibition at Kristiansand Kunsthall in 2020. Mainly I hope to make time for dwellings and detours.
That’s a nice place to end—let’s all make 2019 the year for dwellings and detours.