Elina Melloul

multidisciplinary , writing

Empowerment artworks of an artistic investigator


Credit: Jeremy Samuelson


When Sutthirat  Supaparinya was a little girl, she wanted to be a scientist. But, around 14 years old, when a teacher at school asked to their students what they wanted to become in the future, one of her classmate said she would like to be a scientist. It made her change her direction to an artistic career instead. 

Sutthirat Supaparinya (Pi Som) is an artist who has worked in different art field such as painting, sculpture, art installation and video. Her works have exhibited in several countries, mostly in Asia. One of her main focus is her curiosity over media information and the change of surrounding. Indeed, she uses her artwork as a support to understand the world around her. Because her creativity depends on her current interest, the theme of her artworks are very diversifies.

Despite these varieties of subject, the landscapes theme is, nowadays, one of her favourite. Indeed, she considers that the landscape reflects human evolution. Through time, the environment is changing: new roads, buildings, even cities are built. However, these changes have also a negative impact on the environment and its wildlife.

As she is really concerned by these issues, she uses her art to be the lawyer of the landscapes and its inhabitants. As Pi Som said: “unlike human, landscape can not talk, but the large area consists of many elements that live in.”

For instance, she created a video artwork in 2006 called Time-Lapse City where she invited elderly Chiang Mai Residents to talk about their town and its evolution through time. These life stories allow the local audience to realize the impact of globalisation on the old capital of Lanna Kingdom. By interviewing testimony “from the past”, the audience can understand how their town has evolved until today and why they have to improve Chiang Mai’s evolution for the next generation.

Furthermore, the landscape theme is also, for the artist, an open door to talk and study about her own society issues. Indeed, her curiosity always pushes her to question herself about what she does not understand. That is why, her artwork is always the final result of a deep reflexion and research about what it bothers her in the nowadays society.

For instance, her artwork Unintentionally waiting created in 2017, illustrate her ability to analyse what surrounding the artist in her every day life. This artwork questions the inefficiency of the public transportation in Chiang Mai. Indeed, even though the local government invested in the construction of bus stop in order to improve the bus lines in the city, this initiative seems pretty artificial. Pi Som noticed during her research that there are lots of bus stops in the town but not so many buses. Moreover, some areas are completely left behind even if the bus stops are ready to be used. Therefore, people are waiting a long time with an advertisement in front of there eyes: they become a part of the Chiang Mai landscape, transforming themselves in realistic art sculpture in the middle of the street.

Unintentionally Waiting: 





2017, Single channel video, 8.46 minutes, 1920×1080/ 16:9,sound, color                                         

The main mystery for the artist is the fact that the advertising on the bus stop are light up all night whereas the public transportation is not functional during that time. The artist pushes the audience to question itself about the real aim of the local government and how the public money is spent. Do the bus stops are only a pretext to create advertisement spot in all the town, or is there a real preoccupation to improve the public transportation in Chiang Mai? Pi Som asks tough questions but she does not give the answer. The aim of her artwork is to raise people awareness about certain issues, to invite them to be curious about their own societies.

The second artwork of Pi Som that I found very interesting is called No David! created in 2016. This curiosity about the hidden side of societies led her to study some banned book. She decided to work on this project from New Zealand in order to benefit from their interesting library and their large freedoms rights compare to Thailand.

No David! (2016):  





[No David!] Public Spirits, Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland [22 Sep, 2016 to Jan 8, 2017]

Indeed, she had the chance to understand better the issue of her native country by reading the banned book of Thailand but also from other different country from all around the world. She focused her project by selecting children books written in different languages.

According to her, study the banned books allowed her to truly understand the issues of societies, to understand the “unknown stories” of each country. More than just ordinary book, they create a link with the soul of people who suffer in the past. They are the proof that literature still influences the current politics. Read a banned book is like having a secret power to decode the fears and challenges of the nowadays society.

For Pi Som, art is a way to please her own curiosity by express, what it matters for her.  Art does not give answer to her interrogations but is a way to come closer from it. She wants to gives her audience another perspective of their every day life by highlighting some current societies issues. Therefore, Pi Som taught me that art is always knowledge.

Elina Melloul 

Jan 21, 2018

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  • Printing by Doing

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

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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]