Sitting 2004

"Sitting 2004" is a continuous exhibition series of Kamin Lertchaiprasert. The "Time and Experience" exhibition in 1990 was the starting point of Lertchaiprasert's interest in the process of arts creation. Eastern philosophy, scientific concept. as well as Albert Einstein's theory of relationship between experience and time -the idea of which his exhibition adopted its title from.

Lertchaiprasert first presented the journey of time in "Time and Experience". He converted the familiar sensory perception of the audience by putting footprints on the wall and leaving 365 pieces of paintings on the floor (as the number of days in a year) so that the audience can step on it. Other exhibitions employing the similar methods of creation include "Kor Oei Kor Kai" (1991), "Travels to Thailand" (1992). "What's in my mind?" (1994), ABC (1995), and "Normal & Nature" (1996)- There is also some subject-based exhibition taking turn with the aforementioned events such as Muang-nging Sae Lao (1992) or the solo exhibition "The ordinary man is a Buddha. Passion is bodhi (the wisdom of enlightenment)" (2001).

In that very same year of 1990, Lertchaiprasert began to explore the use of words as part of the images. The integration of words and images seems to be inseparable in his work since then. Words and narration reflect the intention of the artist and the issues of abstract e.g. forms or colors.

Researching his documents of the previous art pieces, one may come up with a statement recorded by Lertchaiprasert himself that he is very much interested in meditation. The artist's application of meditative gestures in the arts production process implies the idea of vipassanal through mindfulness. This unique aspect differentiates Lertchaiprasert from other typical Thai artists who prefer to portray Buddhism with its issues or terms through the subject-based processes.

Since the work is meditation-centered, it is not easy for everybody to understand the implication behind it. Although Lertchaiprasert's background education is in Western arts, one can hardly refuse that his work does not purely contain Western way of thinking. Lertchaiprasert mentioned that "... I adopted arts production to learn to understand both inner nature of myself and psychotherapy... " (Lertchaiptasert 1990).

In the foreword of the Normal & Nature's catalog. he says that "...I feel that the creation of arts helps develop my attitudes to live my daily life with conscience..." ( Lertchaiprasert:1997 ). Despite t.hese statements, his work may not be completely entitled as conceptual process art. Even though the process plays a leading role in the creation. the compressible meaning are equally significant arid not insipid. The artist insists that th s ills used are spontaneous and the techniques are merely the medium in transmitting emotions and thoughts. Yet, his practice is not in the custom of arts but part of the contemporary current.

Nicolas Bourriaud says in Rational Aesthetics Nicolias  that the conceptual art free from 1960s trend is the process related art such as those of Rirkrit Tiravanija, Philip Par no, or Vanessa Beacroft. Nonetheless, it is riot apparent that Lertchaiprasert's work belongs to this category. Although his art has gone through certain processes, the creation is associated with "Meditation" -his daily routine which remains unclear in both Western and Eastern cultural contexts. Meditation is in xplicable in human words and not related to the universal cognizanc . The intention. determination. and motive are full of abstracts and subjectivity. The meditation itself can also be view d as vague and ambiguous. It can be simultaneous meditation like while we are reading or playing sports (Buddhadaspikku : 1958), or like what Lertchaiprasert practices everyday to examine the mutability, suffering, and vanity.

Understanding the perception of "Praying" is an essentiaI part in meditation. Venerable Dr. W. Rahula says in "What the Buddha Taught" that praying "...aims to cleanse o ne's mind of all disturbances and to purify one's thinking for wisdom. Thus, it is difficult or almost impossible to judge a topic this way..." The coherence of body and mind implies that Lertchaiprasert's art pieces have naturally enchanting ambiguity of the relationship between emotions and reasons.

"Sitting 2004" is part f the 365 drawings Lertchaiprasert produced. The artist still holds on to the Easternphilosophy and interactions between causes and effects, with which he relays his personal experience in daily life to the audience, The event is divided into t o categories. The first section is woodcut prints on hand made paper. The prints show meditative gestures with dates of recording, The monochrome drawings and wording share certain characteristics with Chinese calligraphy, It is in this part that one would sense the emotions in the artist's work even though it was processed through rationality. This makes Lertchaiprasert's art fresh and lively.

Another part of the exhibition is the reflections of two-dimension printmaking in the form of three- dimension wood-carving sculptures, both narrating the same theme. In harmony with the space of all three exhibition venues. the two sections generate two- dimension and three-dimension implications of what the artist is trying to convey to the audience. The three-dimension sculptures may reflect different meanings from those of the two-dimension pieces.

"Sitting 2004" creates a more playfuI and relaxing atmosphere. The images seem to be teasing and fooling the audience. The pictures of a sitting figure is. in fact, the self portraits of the artist who reacts to the changing circumstances everyday. To portray his daily personal experience, symbols are added to the images such as a pointed end on the head as that of a Buddha image or a round head as that of a human being, Some illustrates serious facial expressions while others teasing ones. Many images are surrealistic like Ultraman, a superman -like figure adored by many children. The message Lertchaiprasert would like to send to the audience is that caring for oneself could mak one's life Much more meaningful.

The images in the artist's work are reflections of his personal life undergone the practices of scrutinizing and reasoning. He believes that this process teaches him about life as well as the balance of feelings and thoughts. The artist adopts the practices to analyze his daily life . In terms of meditation, he purifies his quest for wisdom.

In spite of the individuality, the work portrays changes of the present with surrounding entities stated in the art piece no. 22/3/47 as "Contributing is the heart of a community". This art item depicts his daily life in connection with other situation, particularly "The Tunnel of Morality" or "The Land Foundation' project which he initiated.

If we rearrange all of the pieces, it seems that Lertchaiprasert's work since 1990 has explored the theme of time with the influence of the current changes to the past and to the present itself. The questions he raises are framed within a certain set of beliefs, The questions to his daily incidents or phenomenon. therefore, are more like the repeated practices than seeking for answers. Questions asked on a basis of beliefs are a pattern completely different from the Western contemporary conceptual process. Does this lead to reconsideration on the definition of time in Lertchaiprasert's art pieces since 1990?

Ark Fongsmut