Accepted paper:

Orien-Thai-ism: Thailand Through the Eyes of Western Artists

Author:

Dale Konstanz (Mahidol University International College)

Paper short abstract:

Artworks created by prominent Western artists during their visits to Thailand will be analyzed in order to understand how the culture has been interpreted. The objective is to determine whether or not these artworks reinforce stereotypes and common misconceptions of Thai culture.

Paper long abstract:

Although the influence of Asian cultures and Eastern practices on Western art has been widely investigated, Orientalists have most often focused on Japan and China. Few art historians seem to be aware of the fact that a number of prominent artists from the West have also been inspired by the rich culture of Thailand. Internationally-recognized artists, including Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Brice Marden, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Marina Abramović, Martin Parr, Vivian Maier, and Andreas Gursky have all traveled to this Southeast Asian nation and have produced work based on what they encountered here. In the artworks, a variety of concepts related to Thai society, customs, and beliefs have been explored. In addition, Thai motifs, components of Buddhist art, and other distinctively Thai elements have been incorporated into the work. Furthermore, some of the artists have been influenced by the natural surroundings or the built environment of Thailand. Specific artworks created by these Western artists during or immediately after their visits to Thailand will be analyzed in order to understand how the culture has been interpreted. The objective is to determine whether or not these particular artworks reinforce stereotypes of Thai culture and rely on clichés and common misconceptions. Since the work was created by highly perceptive artists in the late 20th Century and beyond, Thai culture has generally been portrayed with fresh, new perspectives. Yet, since the visits were short-term, theoretically it was not feasible for these artists to express a truly deep understanding of Thai culture through their work.

panel P083
Performing Culture: Art and Performance for Coming to Know and Expressing Knowledge in the Social Sciences