Elina Melloul

multidisciplinary , writing

Portrait [Archives of Dialogue: Seeing and Being] By jiandyin

          Recently, Gallery Seescape, situated on Nimmanhaemin Road, in Chiang Mai, hosted the artwork of the artist collaborative name jiandyin, composed of Jiradej Meemalai and Pornpilai Meemalai.  This small homely café and gallery is a nice opportunity for Thai artists to show their art to the public. Surrounding by a sunlight garden, the exhibitions take place in a separate room next to the café. For that reason, every passerby can appreciate the collaboration of art and food.

Portrait [Archives of Dialogue: Seeing and Being] is an exhibition which introduces the on going project of  jiandyin's Dialogue : Seeing and Being, exposed in Gallery Seescape from 1st September 2017 until 15th October 2017. The artists showed all kinds of archives:  painting, videos, sculpture and photograph. Indeed, through this diversify art supports; the artists wanted to express the complexity and the diversity of human being. However, when the public discovered this exhibition, their attention was focus on the main wall, full of black and white portrait of random people, from all nationalities and ages.

What this draws mean?

What is the link between all these people?

In 2010, the artist couple began a human adventure:  The concept is simple: Two artists seat in the street and in the middle of them, an empty chair, waiting for a stranger to sit on it. In different part of the world (United States, Taiwan, South Korea, Germany), the artists invite passersby in the street to participate to a free draw portrait.

After this session, the artists request for a home visit with random participants, documenting where and how the front portrait place in the residence.  Thanks to this exchange, a friendship can born between the participants and the artists.

 For that reason, “the passerby who becomes audience becomes participant”: indeed, participants become a part of the artwork, and not only observers.  By joining this draw session, people involve themselves in this adventure.

The project main goal is to create link with each other in order to open people mind.  jiandyin said that more than an artwork; the goal is to “explore the human relationship and the paradox of coexistence”.  The portrait is just a pretext to create relationships between people. From the United States to Taiwan, all the drawing community is linked by the artist’s artwork: when all the back portrait are installed together, audience can perceive the connection between humans from all over the world.

The artists can be proud of their work because, they did not expect that this artwork would take such an important magnitude. As they said, they “create friendships”, they “create families.”

According to me, this project is a beautiful initiative because it is a way to struggle against racism and exclusion. Indeed, people are afraid of other cultures because they do not understand it.  By connecting people with each other through art, it allows people to ask question, to understand of their own the local societies issues. It brings to the community different political and social perspectives.

Moreover, all the localisations where the project took place are thoughtful by jiandyin: “each country is a different approach”: Indeed, the artists want to link people from different political, social, cultural and historical situations. Even in the same country, the free draw portrait sessions are situated in emblematic places, which allows the artists to approach people from different backgrounds. For instance, in Taiwan, the artists drew portrait in four areas, which represent four aspects of the country: politic (in Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall), historic (in Tamsui), culture (in Lungshan Temple of Manka) and education  (in National Taiwan University).

Furthermore, this project allowed the artists to access to different point of view of the same issue. For instance, in South Korea, the artists wanted to discover the different opinions “from the inside” of the north/south Korea issues. They found out that the perceptions of the problem were different according to the ages and the educational level. On the one hand, older citizens considered this issues as a taboo subject, and on the other hand, students had a critical point of view about the situation, supported by facts and books. They also discovered that this situation was really closed from how people of Germany remembered of Berlin’s situation during the Cold War, both division resulted by the allied victory.

This on-going project is one of the main artwork of jiandyn, even though it is not the only one. In 2011, the couple decided to create a non-profit artist initiative called “Baan Noorg Collaborative Arts and Culture” located in Nongpho District, Ratchaburi. It is an alternative interdisciplinary art program: its main goal is to develop contemporary art and cultural production for local and global community. 

Moreover, through this art foundation, they recently decided to involve themselves in Burmese immigrant issue in Nongpho district, Thailand. Because of the Burma’s war, more and more immigrants come in Thailand in order to find a better living condition. However, as their integration in Thai’s society is difficult, the artists decided to support immigrants and local residents, create mutual understanding and live together peacefully.

In one of the next reviews, we will talk more precisely about this interesting and useful project.

Through Portrait [Archives of Dialogue: Seeing and Being], we discovered that art can be use to raise people awareness about current issue: art helps to open mind and leads to human tolerance.

Nov 9, 2017

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About the writer …

Elina Melloul is a French intern in Chiang Mai Art Conversation. During these next couple months, she will write different reviews about cultural events in Chiang Mai such as exhibitions, festivals, art books, and create some videos, which present the work of different artists. 

As a student in political sciences, she does not have any professional skills about art.  However, in these reviews, she will provide a sociological analysis about art’s world. Through her works, she will try to explain the different art projects, which compose the art scene of Chiang Mai.

Let’s discover what can offer “the cultural town of Thailand” for the art lover.

If you are an artist and if you are interested in having a review about your work, please contact her.

e-mail: [email protected]