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Art in Translation: Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook

March 7, 2020–July 26, 2020
North Carolina Museum of Art

Recognized as one of the preeminent video artists of Southeast Asia, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook (Thai, born 1959) explores the connections and complications between Western art history and the cultural traditions of various Asian nations.

In a series of photographs and videos, Rasdjarmrearnsook presents framed reproductions of famous works of art—those that would be familiar to many Eurocentric audiences, such as Edouard Manet’s Luncheon on the Grassand Pierre Auguste Renoir’s Ball at the Moulin de la Galette—to rural Thai villagers, recording their reactions to works unfamiliar to them. The villagers share a variety of responses, subtitled in English, as they decode the scenes in front of them: excitement, humor, dislike, and confusion. What results is a fascinating study in how (and what) we communicate through art and body language, how worlds collide, how context and location of works of art matter (or not), and how disparate cultures have more commonalities than typically thought.

Organized by the North Carolina Museum of Art. This exhibition is made possible, in part, by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources; the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.; and the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment for Educational Exhibitions. Research for this exhibition was made possible by Ann and Jim Goodnight/The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fund for Curatorial and Conservation Research and Travel.

Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, Two Planets: Van Gogh’s The Midday Sleep and the Thai Villagers, 2008, digital pigment print, 29 3/4 x 29 3/4 in., Courtesy of Tyler Rollins Fine Art; © 2008 Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook

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