Naima Morelli

ThaiArtistsSpirit

My new article “5 Thai Artists that Connect Us to Spirituality” has just been published on CoBo Social. Some of you may know my new research scope is Thailand, and I’m planning to visit for a reportage in 2019. My previous long-form reportage have been Indonesia (2013), Australia (2014), Singapore (2015-2017) and Cambodia (2018).

So what form do these reportage take in our multimedia world of information and “liquid society” (to quote Zygmunt Bauman)? Well, the form must also be flexible. The bulk of the Indonesia research ended up in a book. My Australian reportage took the shape of a series of articles and an exhibition in Rome. The Cambodian material has also come out as articles. The Singapore research has also become a book which is the process of being published as a web-series, every Monday on this blog and on Medium. For Thailand, I’m planning to realize some videos as well. Will see how it unfolds.

To go back to “5 Thai Artists that Connect Us to Spirituality”; I love to write these kind of pieces because they allow me to look deeply into the practice of artists thematically, and then summarize the essence of their work in few paragraphs. I learn so much from doing this work, and I’m so happy to have the chance to share it with you guys!

Here is the link to the article

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Migration

Geographically small and without local resources, Singapore has historically based its entire survival on the presence of the sea as a strategic location to commerce. A city port and a global trading hot spot since the beginning, creating a good relationship with the region and projecting a reliable image has always been key. In shaping their identity, the Singaporeans couldn’t afford to be purely preoccupied by the way they perceive themselves, but also in the relationship they have with the outside world.

These two narratives are not parallel, but blend into each other. Singapore is a city in constant and rapid flux; his port is bustling with activity and the airport is almost a mandatory stop for fights to and from Asia. You would expect that in such a mobile space, “the local” and “the other” won’t look that different. However, those who aspire to become locals learn quickly that the papers granting Singaporean citizenship can’t really grant a inner sense of belonging to the individual and they don’t make the community accept you.

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manifestapalermo

Here is an art event where contemporary art don’t lose itself in mere theoretical speculations, but rather tackles important and timely issues. The 12th edition of the Biennale Manifesta called “The Planetary Garden: Cultivating Coexistence” (16 June to 4 November 2018, Palermo, Italy) examines through site-specific artworks the themes of migration and the environmental concerns of our times.

I spoke about it with founder Hedwig Fijen and creative mediator Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli for Culture360, the webmagazine of the Asia-Europe Foundation.

Here is the link to the piece

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 Writing history


When we were studying history in school as kids, we perceived it to be a fixed, unchangeable entity. “Only history will tell”, is still a common saying, which identifies history as the ultimate judge, operating with the fairest of methods. We see that mentality in art history as well. Van Gogh is your typical case in point of the neglected artist in his lifetime who History then recognised as one of the major artists of the 20th century. At the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome my professors used to see art history as a force opposed to the art market. Market success was described to us students as kind of a cheat. Conversely, history couldn’t care less about money and other such vileness. Apparently what history remembers are the true masterpieces of real artists, not certainly what’s up on the stock market. Good art is what will stand the test of time.
While I subscribe this view, I’m also aware that along the winds shaping the rocks of history, market forces are in the picture as well. Today more than ever. History is a re-reading of the past according to what the present values important and useful. The retelling of every story necessarily implies highlighting some elements and hiding others. It does that in a functional way. In this sense, we can consider the old saying, “History is written by the winners” has been true until the ‘80s came along and postmodernism challenged this notion.

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NateeUtarit

“In the Forest of Fontainebleau, Natee remarried the world. He stepped away for a while from the human drama that is inherent in every social interaction and accessed a much slower, much quieter world, where he was not continuously bombarded by images and input from contemporary society. This allowed Natee to focus on the smaller folds of reality. It is similar to when you concentrate on subtle variations in your breathing while meditating. If you get to apply that same heightened attention to reality, everything around you transforms and takes the form of childlike wonder at the simplest things, like the sky, a sprinkle of light and the color of moss.”

In my new piece for CoBo, I have a conversation with Thai artist Natee Utarit about his new work for his show “Untitled Poems of Théodore Rousseau” at Tang Contemporary in Bangkok.

Here is the link to the interview

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LASLO_coverDEFINITIVE
Hello dear readers. I’m glad to announce that from today on this blog and on the platform MEDIUM I am starting the publication of my reportage on the Singaporean contemporary art system. I have been working on this for more than three years, and I’m proud to finally share it with you!

You will read a new essay each Monday for about six months, and this will culminate in a final publication. After considering different options to get this material out there, I very much liked this idea of publishing a new episode each week. It reminds me of those writers like Salgari or Jack London who used to publish their books “in episodes” on newspaper, making it into almost an appointment with their readers.

This is the index, comprising of the interviews that you will read in the next few months:

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VasanSitthiket
You might have guessed it; alongside Cambodia, my current research is expanding towards Thailand. I first had a glimpse of the depth of at the artists from this country in the 2015 exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, which looked at Southeast Asia. Then with the Thai focus at the last Art Stage Singapore I learned some more. I continued expanding my understanding thanks to some editing work of interviews to Thai curators and collectors. And now I’m glad to say I’m hooked!

Thanks to the wonderful curator Loredana Pazzini-Paracciani, who is a contemporary Thai art expert, I had the chance to meet Tawan Wattuya and Vasan Sitthiket in Rome. In this regards, it has been super-interesting to interview them and compare the work and perspectives of these two artists from different generations.

Here is my interview with Vasan for your friendly neighborhood magazine CoBo. I walked away from this chat with so many insights, and hopefully I managed to convey some of those to you dear reader!

Here is the link to the interview

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TawanWattuya

My interview with Thai artist Tawan Wattuya has just been published on the webmagazine CoBo. I met Tawan in Rome, on his way back from Taranto, South of Italy, where he had participated in a three-man show with Vasan Sitthiket and Tanasade Silaaphiwon.

Here is the link to the interview

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KhiangHei
Sometimes when I start an art exploration in a new country of Southeast Asia, I can be lucky enough to meet a figure which becomes a guide of sorts. This person usually helps me entangle the key mechanisms of the art system, and understand the psychology of local artists.

In Cambodia, this figure was Khiang Hei. In this interview published on CoBo, we tackled the most pressing issues together in the emerging Cambodian art scene. With an understanding of the local hardships, as well as a very pragmatic spirit, Khiang suggested possible solutions, some of which he has implemented himself over the years.

The piece is part of my reportage on Cambodian contemporary art.

Here is the link to the interview

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matera2019
You might have mistaken its historical center – called “the Sassi” – for Jerusalem in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, or Patty Jenkins’ Themyscira in Wonder Woman. In truth, Matera doesn’t have anything to envy neither to the City of David, nor the mythical capital from DC Comics, being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, since the 10th millennium BC.

In my article for Culture360, the webmagazine of the Asia Europe Foundation I spoke with Ariane Bieou, Cultural Manger of the Foundation Matera 2019 about the program for the city as European Capital of Culture for 2019.

Here is the link to the piece

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SophalNeak
In the third installment of CoBo’s series on Cambodian photographers, I spoke with artist Sophal Neak, a rising talent in the Cambodian scene. This piece is part of my reportage on Cambodian contemporary art.

Here is the link to the interview

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SvaySareth
My interview with Cambodian artist Svay Sareth, which took place at the beginning of the year in Siem Reap, has just been published on the webmagazine and platform for collectors CoBo Social. The article is part of my reportage on Cambodian contemporary art.

Here is the link to the interview

 

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