MAHA Pavilion brings 5 international artists to propose a performance for a site of their choosing in Bangkok, on the occasion of the Bangkok Biennial 2020.
Paired with 5 local Bangkok performers, the Pavilion exists through this transnational collaboration between the performances conceived by the international artists and the performing bodies of the Bangkok-based artists.
Bangkok is the center of foreign desire.
More often than not, what is seen of Thailand, is the image foreigners expect to see of Thailand. From massage parlors, to Pad Thais, to gold-tipped pagodas and giant Buddhas, to name a few examples, Thai identity has been reduced to a form of escapism for the overworked Westerners under capitalism. It is perhaps not a coincidence that this year’s Bangkok Art Biennale, organized by the Ministry of Culture, set the theme of ‘Escape Routes’, reinforcing the image of the capital as a site of relaxation, culinary and carnal indulgence. As is the case of other similar developing countries, tourism has had a large impact not only on the economy of the country but also, on its ecology, and self-representation.
Tourism as a neocolonial strategy, manipulates the desire for exoticism into furthering racial, gender and socioeconomic stereotypes. The function of stereotypes is to maintain the power imbalance between the Western dominant and the marginalized Other. In internalizing these Western stereotypes, the marginalized subject believes they are responding to a desire that’s been made of them. But the root of this desire is fabricated and arbitrarily-assigned. It therefore only deepens feelings of alienation and othering within the marginalized subject.