Thai artist Wuttin Chansataboot wins Celeste Prize 2015

The 7th Celeste Prize awards Thai artist for his multimedia project.

The Celeste Prize 2015 announced its 5 winners on 14 November 2015. Art Radar looks at the unique Project Prize winning work by the only Asian winner, Thai artist Wuttin Chansataboot.

Wuttin Chansataboot, 'Chamaleon's CORE'. Image courtesy the artist and Celeste Prize.

Wuttin Chansataboot, ‘Chamaleon’s CORE’, 2015. Image courtesy the artist and Celeste Prize.

The Celeste Prize, now in its 7th edition, is an annual international contemporary art prize that awards a total of EUR20,000 to emerging and mid-career artists from all over the world. The Prize is divided into five categories, each receiving EUR4000, including Project Prize, Painting and Drawing Prize, Photography and Digital Graphics Prize, Video and Animation Prize, and Installation, Sculpture and Performance Prize. The Prize exhibition runs until 22 November 2015 at EXBAZZI in Milan, Italy.

This year’s Prize curator is Cameroonian-born independent exhibition maker and cultural producer Koyo Kouoh, Founding Artistic Director of RAW Material Company, a centre for art, knowledge and society in Dakar. Kouoh served as curatorial advisor for dOCUMENTA(12) (2007) and dOCUMENTA(13) (2012), and is also curator of the educational and artistic programme for 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair. Kouoh is among Art Review’s Power 100 in 2015.

For the Celeste Prize 2015, Kouoh headed a jury including international art professionals such as Singapore-based curator David Teh, Ethiopian photographer and contemporary artist Aida Muluneh, and Lebanese film theorist, curator and writer Rasha Salti, among others.

Click here to watch Wuttin Chansataboot’s ‘Chamaleon’s CORE’ documentation on Vimeo

Wuttin Chansataboot: Project Prize 2015

Thai artist Wuttin Chansataboot (b.1979) holds an MFA in Fine Art Media (Film/Video) from the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, London (2011) and a BFA in Printmaking, KMITL, Bangkok (2005). He is currently a PhD candidate in Visual Art at Silpakorn University, Bangkok, and a part-time lecturer at School of Digital Media, Sripatum University. Chansataboot is a freelance director and artist working across disciplines from filmmaking to time-based mutimedia installation. His short films have been shown at film festivals and art events internationally.

Wuttin Chansataboot. Image courtesy the artist.

Wuttin Chansataboot. Image courtesy the artist.

He is the only Asian to be awarded the Celeste Prize this year. He won the Project Prize for his new media project “The Metamorphosis of Self and Identity in Digital Era” consisting of five artworks revolving around its core idea. In the statement about the concept for his work, Chansataboot explains:

The initial idea of “The Metamorphosis of Self and Identity in Digital Era” emerged when I noticed that many physical copies of books made from paper, are being digitized and transformed into the form of e-books. Nevertheless, the evolution of information technology changed the way we live forever. People in the near future might not need physical storage device to keep their crucial data (e.g. personal memory, emotions) as the only thing that is needed to do the task is “the cloud”. I then realized how scientific and technological development have significant impacts on social revolution in various aspects. […] It might be true to say that some people spend their time in the virtual reality much more than interacting with real people around them in the real world.

Wuttin Chansataboot, 'Chamaleon's CORE'. Image courtesy the artist and Celeste Prize.

Wuttin Chansataboot, ‘Chamaleon’s CORE’, 2015. Image courtesy the artist and Celeste Prize.

For Chansataboot, the “metamorphosis” can be viewed through Andy Warhol’s 1968 statement, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” According to the artist, what Warhol said more than 40 years ago is becoming truer everyday, with people living ‘popular’ lives in the virtual world thanks to their created avatars, living parallel lives in the cyberspace. Chansataboot says:

[…] sometimes it seems like those social network users are evolving from human being to another kind of being, the being that does not physically exist in reality. Metaphorically, I would call this social phenomenon another form of “Metamorphosis”, the same process that a caterpillar turns into a beautiful butterfly.

The project includes the installation Chamaleon’s CORE, which takes ‘death’ as its point of departure and as a threshold to rebirth into another life. The work uses a series of 19 edge-lit acrylic sheets with LED strips hidden beneath, each with an image of the cross section of a human body. When lit, the installation revelas the image of the full body of a man floating in mid-air in a transparent coffin – a space where one life ends and another begins.

Wuttin Chansataboot, 'The Formation of Shell'. Image courtesy the artist and Celeste Prize.

Wuttin Chansataboot, ‘The Formation of Shell’, 2015. Image courtesy the artist and Celeste Prize.

The installation The Formation of Shell takes inspiration from the “Scramble Suit”, an invention that appears in the 2006 sci-fi thriller film A Scanner Darkly based on a novel by Philip K. Dick. Chansataboot quotes the American writer’s description of the suit, which ends thus:

[…] the wearer of a scramble suit was Everyman and in every combination (up to combinations of a million and a half sub-bits) during the course of each hour. Hence, any description of him – or her – was meaningless.

According to the artist, the suit, which is a work of fiction, can be compared to the reality of social networks, where identities are blurred, deconstructed and re-constructed.

Wuttin Chansataboot, 'Perpatual Pilgrimage'. Image courtesy the artist and Celeste Prize.

Wuttin Chansataboot, ‘Perpetual Pilgrimage’, 2014. Image courtesy the artist and Celeste Prize.

Perpetual Pilgrimage evolved from John Locke’s theory of personal identity overtime and Jacques Lacan’s concept of “Mirror Stage”. The multimedia installation presents a tunnel-like structure with sensors and red LED light strips. The process of walking through the installation is meant to represent the notion of self-awareness, like in Buddhism’s walking meditation.

Click here to watch Wuttin Chansataboot’s ‘Visual Element’ on Vimeo

The short film Visual Element is a surrealistic reflection on individuals’ loss of identity in a materialistic society, while 16 X 9 Capsule engages with notions of time, memory and existence, by combining fragments of time and incidents taking place at particular locations around Bangkok, as a testimony to the constant transformations and impermanence of being.

Click here to watch Wuttin Chansataboot’s ’16×9 Capsule’ on Vimeo

Other finalists at the Celeste Prize 2015

Among this year’s finalists were also a few other familiar names from the Asian, Middle Eastern and African art scenes, including Korean Jaewon Kim, Ghanian Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh, Cambodian Vandy Rattana and Samnang Khvay for Installation, Sculpture and Performance Prize, Moroccan Younes Baba-Ali, Spanish-Lebanese sister duo Nadia Hotait & Laila Hotait and Iranian Parvaneh Rahimi for Video and Animation, and Japanese Masakazu Yamashiro for Photography and Digital Graphics.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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Related Topics: Thai artists, news, art prizes, awards ceremonies, new media, video, installation, events in Italy

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