The Arts

BAB Escape Routes - I-na Phuyuthanon

10 Mar 2021

I-na Phuyuthanon is an artist from Yala province, a PhD graduate in visual arts, and a researcher. She is known for her video works that address social issues emerging in the three southernmost provinces of Thailand; Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat. She became interested in the daily problems of people living in these three provinces after she had witnessed her uncle being shot before her eyes. The incident prompted her to reflect on the current situation in her hometown. Where violence seemed so common, that people got used to it. While they were filled with fear and suspicion that they and their family would be the next victims.

 In HARMONIMILITARY (2020) at BACC, I-na discusses a way out to survive and lead a peaceful life in dangerous areas, where many villagers, including herself, study the Qur'an. She is grateful to Allah for having shown the comfort of her life and helping her to realise the beauty of her surroundings. Through her work, Phuyuthanon captures the ethos of the culture and nature of the village under peacekeeping operations by the military.


For your exhibition at BAB 2020, can you please describe the need for escape, and how you have approached this theme?

As a result of the coronavirus, the future of survival in food, medicine, and communication is affecting how I prioritise rather than focus on the losses we have seen in the three southernmost provinces.


By remaining uninfected with the virus but thinking about the depression present in the past brings a hidden paranoia in every moment. What happened before, it is a matter of our loved ones dying for no reason and without justice. The pictures I have shown in the past with this video art were also a story of death. 


But after living in this depression of fear for over ten years, it allows us to cope with it by consent and it is the statute that the Islamic faith accepts. I believe it is the will and test of God, which makes it the starting point for this new video artwork, which is no longer talking about death. 


I look at it as someone who lives in the area. If it was me who had to live with this sad story all the time, would I keep talking about it? As well as the current situation with the virus, it made me no longer want to talk about it in such a dire and depressing story.


I look at it as an area that is rich and beautiful, suitable for sharing and hope that people will see this place in a new dimension. 


What events of 2020 have influenced your work, and how?

The most impactful events was the brutal and violent torture in one area of ​​the province, Yala, where the victim was wrongly alleged  because he could not endure the pain. The next event was the situation of the coronavirus which had a big impact in terms of communication especially in the three southern border provinces, This impacted people visiting relatives in prison or having to fight various cases.  In terms of the economy, people rarely travel to small communities In spite of the fertile soil and beautiful landscape and the cultural variety and unique food. 

What are the hardest things that an artist has to get past to create an art piece?

The hardest part of solving jobs is thinking through and negotiating political issues; the normalcy of the state, the nation, social inequality and intolerance.


Which other artist at BAB2020 appeals to you most, and why? 

Ai Wei Wei is one of the most influential artists in my opinion as a critic of the Communist government of China for human rights and the claim for freedom in democracy. Through the creation of art such as sculpture, mixed media, installation art, architecture, photography and film, he was able to speak honestly about the truth.  It makes sense that art can be used to negotiate with the injustice that occurs in society.


Our lives are filled with technology, and most things being modernized. Why is there a need for tradition and culture in our life? How do you embrace or merge both sides in your work?

Humanity arises from the fusion of living accumulated into various cultures and beliefs that live in peace.  We cannot leave behind the crucible of being a human that is as diverse as our beliefs, lifestyles, traditions; these are what encourage mankind to create new ideas.


The future is unknown, what do you look most forward to? Are you hopeful for the future?

I just wake up to see another day.


What is the one thing you would tell the younger generation looking to make their way up the ladder in the field of arts?

There is nothing that can be said to the new generation since the era has changed. Communication, the use of words, has changed.  The way of culture has changed. Art is more than just standing up for the right.  Artistic communication can also show tenderness and create an understanding of people in society as well.


What's a major lesson you've learned while growing your career?

Exposure to creative and imaginary injustices that have been constrained by one person since childhood taught in the country's education system.  All of these things will not make the imagination possible as much as a human being can. The key lesson is to work hard to find a solution for yourself in order to create resolute and firmness to humanity.


In your opinion, how does art in general shift or change from period to period? And how do you adapt it into your work?

The greatest change is in the field of honest expression. That pattern may be based on the era of technology. The variety of media that can be used without being able to even identify art form, so the result is not necessarily a clearly analysed thought process.