The Robes

Kawita Vatanajyankur

11 June 2018 - 29 July 2018


In her video-based performances Kawita Vatanajyankur (b.1987, Thailand) uses her own body as a tool, exploring and exploiting her physical and psychological limits through repetitive actions and endurance. Her practice, underpinned by her position as a woman in Thailand, is predicated on an ongoing interest in issues surrounding everyday labour – both inside and outside of the home. This area of ongoing research has seen Vatanajyankur bring to the fore domestic chores and gender binaries, working conditions and social ideologies, and industrial processes. These research threads are then translated into a concept that presents a direct challenge to the artist – can she symbolically and literally become the object or tool in question? Can her body be used as an artifact? 

Set in front of an eye-catchingly colourful backdrop, Vatanajyankur performs a particular action that imitates the selected object or task: her body is a mop that is submerged in a bucket of water; a beam scale being balanced with fruit or vegetables; a wet rag used to wash the floor. In The Robes Vatanajyankur is washing, pegged and precariously balancing on a clothes line – ultimately losing her balance and falling into a pile of fabrics below. As with many of her works, The Robes involves a limited range of movements or gestures, centring instead on strength and an exploration of the artist’s physical and mental boundaries. The audience is positioned both as witness and spectator – pulled between Vatanajyankur’s alluring aesthetics and the often confronting physicality that operates as the central tension of the artist’s practice. 

Vatanajyankur was the Dunedin Public Art Gallery’s 2017 International Visiting Artist and the outcome of this residency can be seen in the exhibition Kawita Vatanajyankur: Performing Textiles, on at the Gallery until 26 August 2018.

Our Visiting Artist Programme is supported by Creative New Zealand Toi Aotearoa and Project Partner Dunedin School of Art

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