Thinking and Talking about Arts and Culture in Southeast Asia

Following the Threads that Connect Clothing to Religious Persecution in Southeast Asia [Thailand]

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“The violence meted out against people for their religious, political, and ethnic affiliations, often signaled by clothing and the symbols they wear, provides a lens through which to see abuses of power. All over the world, clothing and symbols can take on protective, threatening, or dangerous meanings.

As happens in the West, discrimination against Muslims also occurs in Thailand and Southeast Asia — especially in southern Thailand and northwestern Myanmar. These prejudices are the subject of Thai artist Jakkai Siributr’s solo exhibition, Displaced, currently at the Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre (BACC).

As he has done before, Siributr looks with a penetrating gaze at the surfaces forms of Thai culture to consider the politics hiding beneath. Siributr, who was born in Thailand, and studied textile arts in the US before returning to Thailand to live and work, uses textiles to decipher and reveal the meaning of  symbols that are powerful in Thai culture, especially those found in religious iconography. (The artist told me via email that he has his own religious practice which is the Middle Path of Buddhism.) In this way his artistic practice is reminiscent of Yinka Shonibare and Grayson Perry, who both use the aesthetics of fabric and clothing to deeply investigate their societies. For Displaced, Siributr focuses specifically on the relationships of the Theravadic Buddhist majority to the Muslim minority in Thailand and Myanmar through his use of devotional fabrics and symbols. …”

 

Read the rest of Ben Valentine’s article on Hyperallergic.

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