Words by Katie Farley
Kawita Vatanajyankur is a Thai video artist who exhibits a comprehensive analysis of the spiritual, social, and cultural ways of watching and appreciating the enduring work of women’s labor. Through her performances, Vatanajyankur embarks on corporeal investigations that impishly test her body’s restrictions, resulting in experiences that are captivating and challenging to watch in equal measure.
Prominent traits throughout the artist’s works are the eye-catching, radiant shades, reflecting Vatanajyankur’s singular aesthetic, tapping into a globalized and digitally networked pictorial language of consumption and immediate satisfaction.
“To me, a strong voice of art can change the individual’s thoughts and feelings, shift their mindsets and make them realize the universal truth beyond the image, beyond tradition, and beyond definition,” explains Vatanajyankur. “That is the beginning of how the world and society can change for the better.”
The artist differentiates her work from others in her field through her painting background and treats her video works as paintings. She manipulates an assortment of psychedelic shades as symbols of modern commercial and marketing, designed by faceless industries. She illustrates what is behind-the-scenes, including the undervalued workforce behind closed factory doors.
Vatanajyankur’s latest series is an evolving sequence from 2018 entitled Performing Textiles, with a firm reference on female labor amid the fashion and textile world, where 82 – 85% of employees are female. The sequences emphasize concerns of labor exploitation throughout the fast fashion industries and extrapolate about egalitarianism and labor rights.
“In the first video series, I have turned my body into various clothes-making and textile machines, including the spinning wheels, dying machines, weaving looms, print-making machines, and carding machines.”
She further describes how her first live performance of 45 minutes to 1 hour is where she transformed herself into a knitting machine. “In that live performance work, my body acts as a needle that goes all around the loom repeatedly to create a massive red fabric from my body. As I am still working on this topic, I am now on a research trip to study on cottons and the erselabor behind them in order to make a new series of work before showing this new performances and video works during my residency at CHAT (Centre for Heritage Arts and Textiles) in Hong Kong and during my solo exhibition at Australian Centre for Photography next year. “
Kawita Vatanajyankur’s works revolve around the questioning of contemporary societies through thought-provoking sequences, as well as attaining playful elements with a polished aesthetic that unapologetically make onlookers stand up and take note.