The Strong Body Canon: The Art of the People’s Party after Thailand’s 1932 Revolution
REGIONAL SOCIAL AND CULTURAL STUDIES PROGRAMME
The Politics of Art in Southeast Asia Seminar Series
About the Seminar
The consequence of the 1932 Revolution on the development of Thai modern art was the shift of art patronage from the court to a “commoner” government. In 1933, the management of the Fine Art Department (Krom Silpakorn), the national organisation responsible for the preservation, support, and promotion of arts and culture in Thailand, was transferred from the Royal Institute (Ratchabanditsabha) to the Ministry of Education. At the zenith of the revolutionary regime, the Fine Art Department, founded in 1912 during the reign of King Vajiravudh (King Rama VI, r. 1910-1925), promoted art representing the working class as a subject matter and Western realism as a stylistic preference. This resulted in the creation of a new aesthetic canon: the strong, desirable armoured body, symbol of the revolution’s commoner ready to work and sacrifice for the nation. This seminar will discuss this canon, its promotion of the ideal Thai body, and how it was, in fact, a critique of the upper class. This politics of the body was primarily manifest in the art of sculpture and promoted through Constitutional Fairs between 1937 and 1938. I will elaborate further on how these fairs served as a tool for nation-building and for the eradication of social hierarchy.
About the Speaker
Thanavi Chotpradit is a lecturer in modern and contemporary Thai art history in the Department of Art History, Faculty of Archaeology, at Silpakorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. She is also a member of the editorial collective Southeast of Now: Directions in Contemporary and Modern Art, a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the study of contemporary and modern art in Southeast Asia. She received her PhD in art history from Birkbeck, University of London, under a Royal Thai Government Scholarship. Dr Chotpradit’s areas of interest include modern and Thai contemporary art in relation to memory studies, war commemoration, and Thai politics.