Chiang Mai Social Installation

Founded 1992, Chiang Mai, Thailand

The Chiang Mai Social Installation (CMSI) consisted of four multivalent public projects in the northern city that ran between 1992 and 1998. CMSI was organised by artists Uthit Atimana, Montien Boonma, Mit Jai Inn and Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, each of whom had just returned from studying abroad. There, they became aware of trends such as Arte Povera and began to focus on the everyday or overlooked. However, the word “art” was avoided in pre-publicity in order not to strictly categorise their project.

Each CMISI project ran for three months or so and emerged against a backdrop of perceived conservatism within the mainstream Thai art scene, centred in Bangkok. CMSI instead sought a radical engagement between artists and the public. Temples, a morgue and homes were used as project sites, among other spaces in the city. Directions of street signs were changed to suggest newer understandings, a sculpture was made and then incinerated, and a soapbox was prepared for anyone to speak without fear of arrest. E.I. (Exchanging Thoughts) (1995-96) was an event in which objects made by artists outside Southeast Asia were exchanged for objects from the locals.

Biography information by Brian Curtin, from “SEA: Contemporary Art in Southeast Asia”, January 2023

Country: Thailand