PRAY includes Korakrit Arunanondchai’s two most recent videos: Songs for dying and Songs for living (both 2021).
Created in collaboration with artist and director Alex Gvojic, Songs for living was co-written with the artist Diane Severin Nguyen, features narrations by singer Zsela, and was influenced by writings from Simone Weil, Édouard Glissant, and Czesław Miłosz. It also includes musical composition and direction by the producer Aaron David Ross.
About the show
Songs for living is presented in an immersive environment where a wishing pond reflects a submerged image onto a screen. A cast of Arunanondchai’s grandfather’s hands poetically taps the body of water manipulating the image. Songs for living was filmed and created mostly in the summer of 2021 around New York City’s lower Manhattan.
Each of the videos is narrated by the voice of the “ghost” that speaks for dead spirits, political regimes, family members, and animals, all entwined together and transforming into one another. Artist-made sculptures of spirit houses are installed as thresholds between spirit and flesh, creation and decreation.
Organized around sequences of songs, Songs for dying focuses on the rituals of death and the process of decomposition, which more than enunciating a final end create the possibility of continuous transformation. In Songs for dying, departing from the loss of his grandfather, the artist unfolds stories that carry the idea of self into the space of the unknowable. Ghosts, shamans, and a dying sea turtle are not only metaphors but also the mediums through which becoming and decomposition must pass through.
In the video, archival footage of the 1948 South Korean Jeju Massacre is contrasted with the most recent anti-government protests in Thailand. All these events tie together with the story of American democracy and how after World War II, neoliberal regimes have been forced upon different countries of the world.
About the artists
A visual artist, filmmaker, and storyteller, Korakrit Arunanondchai employs his versatile practice to tell stories embedded in the formation of collectivity and higher power. His highly experimental works provide the public with immersive and participatory experiences of political and ritualistic nature. As a multidisciplinary artist, Arunanondchai creates videos, performances, and sound pieces in collaboration with artists, filmmakers, musicians, and writers.
Arunanondchai earned his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2009 and his MFA from Columbia University in 2012. His works have been featured in major solo and group exhibitions including Moderna Museet in Sweden (2022); Art Sonje Center in Seoul (2022); Bangkok CityCity Gallery (2022); Singapore Art Museum (2022); and Kunsthall Trondheim in Norway (2021). Arunanondchai’s work has also been included in major film festivals such as Transfigured Boundaries at Cineteca Nacional, Mexico City (2022); Stuttgarter Filmwinter Festival for Expanded Media (2022); and the 2020 International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), to name but a few. His works are supported by various private foundations and museums around the world.
Alex Gvojic is a New York based environment designer and cinematographer. His work focuses on creating “hyper-reality” environments that blend video, light, and cinematic tropes. By the transmutation of physical spaces, Gvojic explores the relationships between seeing and believing creating worlds that feel both familiar and foreign. His work has been presented at the Venice Biennale, Berlin Biennale, Palais de Tokyo, Biennale de l’Image en Mouvement, MoMA PS1, UCCA Center for Contemporary in China, the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, among others. He has collaborated with a variety of artists including Korakrit Arunanondchai, Ryan Trecartin, DIS, Xavier Cha, Fatima Al Qadiri, and others.