For the Bangkok Art Biennale, Nuthong’s project Aleaf comprises of several components including a video installation at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, and sculpture installation at the lawn of Wat Arun. Inspired by the history of the Rattanakosin era, the artist reimagines multi-versions of myths and urban legends, starring characters taken from various sources including Thai Royal Chronicles from the Thonburi and Rattanakosin eras, the parable “the Blind Men and the Elephant,” ghost stories, video games, as well as living figures and animals. Crows, for example, symbolize a witness, a third-person perspective, and a narrator of the tale, while a “Horse of Time” takes the audience across several timelines and universes. Inventing these new fiction / fantasies, having his characters assume new roles and representations, and adding a tinge of dark humor, Aleaf attempts to question the accuracy of oral and written histories, word of mouth, societal beliefs, and mainstream narratives, as the artist puts it:
“Looking into Aleaf, there is a whole universe within it.
This universe includes the black magic of the royal court, confusion, illnesses and eternal self-annihilation haunting the souls of the nation. It is only non-playable characters (NPCs) who disguise themselves as pseudo-academics claiming to preserve ancient knowledge and live a life of purity that had long been forgotten that survive. The power of time standing still, creates the phenomenon of silence which hypnotises perceptions, emotions, knowledge and histories into a slumber.
While history collapses and Siamese civilization decays, the unlearning of the royal court’s culture makes time feel like it is moving once again. Before the rebirth of Aleaf, eternity felt like an endless journey, it existed by twists and turns, swoops and swirls across the midnight sky in beautiful shape-shifting forms. Once a human looks into Aleaf, it ensures that an unknowing-event can become monstrous, psycho-political, or revolutionary.
Nothing is everything, then everything is nothing.
Moving moments in eternity.
This is Aleaf.