IT'S STILL A MAD, MAD WORLD
WOOF PACK discusses with Voranai Vanijaka on how governments and societies collectively influences art and politics
WOOFPACK : Can you give us a short introduction of yourself?
Voranai : My name is Voranai Vanijaka. I’m an Editor-in-Chief of a platform called ’Thisrupt.co’. T-h-i-s-r-u-p-t not D-i-s-r-u-p-t. It is a platform about culture/social and politics. We create content for our audience so that we exchange opinions.
WOOF PACK : Let’s talk about 'It’s still a mad, MAD world' exhibition. How did it all begin?
Voranai : Well, how did it start? MAD magazine is kinda like art itself. There are two types of art. There is Art created from imagination for the sake for beauty. On the other hand, it is created to mimic or criticise the society or politics. This is MAD Magazine.
One day, Khun Nhoo Apichai, who use to be a cartoonist for German MAD magazine back in the 80s, came to know Jay Spencer, who is the owner of Woof Pack. They met up one day for drinks. When they got to know what everyone was doing, they came up with an idea to do an exhibition called 'It’s still a MAD, MAD world’.
So they now have the artist. We need someone who likes to make jokes and criticise the politics. Jay thought of me, Voranai, that baldy, who likes to discuss and criticise politics. Then we put these two people together. We will have an Artist and we will have a foul-mouthed dude. Put these two together and we have ‘It’s still a MAD, MAD world’ exhibition…Thai style at WoofPack.
WOOF PACK : Politics back then and politics now. Do you think it has changed?
Voranai : The world today and the world 30 years ago are not the same. 30 years ago, there was a cold war between America and the Soviet Union. Therefore, in those days there was a clear and simple line. If you are on the American side, you know who the enemy is for sure. It’s the Soviet Union. It's clear who is the hero or who is the villain.
Nowadays in the age of globalisation. It is difficult to pinpoint who is the enemy and who we should be afraid of.
Who are we competing with? is it China? Russia? America? We don’t know. When we’re unable to define the enemy, we look into our own society. And sometimes, we fight each other. Therefore, there are group of people who still like the traditional way. Old style. Which is not wrong.
And then there are groups of people that want change to new things. Which is not wrong as well. The point is that, they want different things. So the question is how can we find a way for the two groups to talk to each other and move forward together.
WOOF PACK: What do you think the government should do to support art and culture within our community?
Voranai : I believe that there are two things to do. The first thing is to stop the censorship. Because, art is an expression of the imagination. It has no borders. There are no limits. But if you use your role as the government to say that, ‘This one can do’ ‘This one can not’ ‘This is forbidden’ It will be very difficult for artists to really express their imaginations.
Second thing is, once we have no censorship, we should allow people to have more of a “Freedom of Expression”. The more freedom to express and to talk, more imagination and ideas will come out.
For example, The film ‘Parasite’
Parasite won an Oscar. You know why? Because the government and society of South Korea about 30 years ago chose to be a society that people have the freedom of speech, the right to think, to question and to learn.
They chose to send South Korean children to western countries and other countries to learn. What they have learned is not only 1 + 1 = 2 or A B C D, but also they brought back the culture, innovation and ideas.
They then created the Kpop industry. From Gangnam Style to Parasite. Right now, South Korea is a country that exports culture and innovation. They have came this far because they let their people to have the “Freedom of expression”.
WOOF PACK : Do you think art plays an important role in driving the society?
Voranai : Art is an important factor in driving the society because art is communication. Society is driven by communication. And communication is educating, advising and exchanging information. There are many ways to communicate. But art is unique. When you communicate through art. It’s not just a direct message. It contains creativity and beauty. It can be more profound than other methods of communication.
For instance, as a writer, I sometimes need illustrations for my writing. As they say, "A picture is worth a thoundsand words. Sometimes a picture can be very powerful. Therefore, art is an important factor in driving society. Both in a good way and in a bad way.
WOOF PACK : What is the difference between being an Editor-in-Chief and an Art Curator?
Voranai : Usually, as a writer or an editor of a newspaper or a magazine or whatever. The editor is the boss.
The writer is the boss. Therefore, people who are artists, those who draw, who create artwork and illustrations, who take photos. They will all be in the role of following the given order. Do what I told you.
But as a Curator, the role has changed. I can’t just order the artist to draw this and that. It doesn’t work that way.
It is impossible. so it was an eye-opening experience for me. When I saw P’Nhoo work, when he explained his drawings and when he looked around this room and thought about which picture should go on which wall.
It has extended my horizon and I’ve learn to appreciate things more. Because of that, I was able to equally work with artists at the same time. I believe that it made the outcome better.
My first time curating an exhibition I was lucky to work with P’Nhoo and Jay. Because we all can communicate.
We understand each other. We do not agree on everything. But we can talk about it and we open up to each other. We can discuss and exchange ideas.
WOOF PACK : Do you think Art and Politics have anything in common?
Voranai : There are many things in common between Art and Politics. When we examine it, everything in this world was created by humans. We can say that everything is based on human culture. Politics is also a cultural expression. Art is a cultural expression. Therefore, each society and each country has difference politics and different arts. Because each society and each country has different cultures.
Why are American film like this?
Why are Korean movies like this?
Why are Thai movies like this?
Why is British politics like this?
Why is Japanese politics like this?
Why is Thai politics like this?
It is because of the culture. Therefore, If you want changes, where do you have to change? You will have to look at the culture. Change doesn’t mean changing into something else. Change means evolution .
WOOF PACK : Between the government sector and private sector, which one do you think should have more roles in supporting the art?
Voranai : Government or private sector, who should have more roles ? I think the government's role is to open the world for people and artists to express themselves. The private sector should support art financially in the form of donations. Let’s not call it donation. let’s call it investing in creating art.
As I said, the art is the culture. It will create a better society. For example, If you go to Europe, You are in this one city, when you looking around, you will feel that the city is an art city. Why is that? It is art because there are statues. It is art because of the buildings, the streets, the houses.
The city is an art city because they have Museums, they have Galleries. All these things together is a combination of art. This is how to create a better and more liveable society. I grew up in America, right?
It would be very common thing to have a museum or a library or whatever that was donated by the wealthy.
The 1% that think "Hey, I am already rich. I have established myself from this society. Now I want to give something back.” There are many ways to repay the society.
One way is to support the arts and help create the city. Now let’s talk about Thai society, I would like to see more of the wealthy Thais in Forbes Magazine, some people already do this. Not everyone, donate your money and help create art in Thailand or Bangkok or any other cities so that we can all have a better and more liveable society.
WOOF PACK : By having the private sector supporting art and culture, do you think it will affect the variety of arts in the community or not?
Voranai : This depends on the culture as well. To put it simply, if you are a billionaire, and you want to support art by asking the artists to paint your own pictures…for what? Or draw your own family picture…for what? And you then sit on the chair or whatever with all your children sitting on the floor…
Well it’s not wrong. It's your money. But it's not going to improve the society in any way. What is culture? Good culture is to have vision for society. To do something for society, not for oneself. Create for society, not for oneself. Why? because you have already gained a lot from this society. It's not that society is asking for it. It’s up to you. It’s your right to do so.
But if we all are going to be in the same society, perhaps you can be a little bit more generous? Do something for the sake of the society and that would make this society a better place for us all.
So, if you are a billionaire, you can donate a statue, a painting, a picture or a library or whatever. It would make sense to have a sign or a plate to put your name on “Donated by….” That is good enough and it makes sense. The rest is just doing good deeds. Easy.
WOOF PACK : In the world of now where people can easily publish their own art online, what do you think would be the direction for the art industry?
Voranai : There are pros and cons.
Of course, It would be easier for anybody to show their works to the public.
However, the value of everything will be decreased. It is Supply & Demand, if there is a lot of it out there, the value is decreased. There is no quality screening, not that it’s necessary, just that it doesn't have one. So, there are both pros and cons. It’s going to be very difficult to find the ones that are really good. It’s like, looking for a needle in a haystacks. The area is too large to search for what you look for and there are so many things you don’t need. You probably are exhausted by the time you finish.
It’s going to be much more difficult compared to the old days when things get screened before displayed to the public. We can’t tell which one is better or which one is worst. The only thing I can say, the truth is that the world is changing. This is the only fact of today.
WOOF PACK : If you could say something to the young creatives and artists out there, what would it be?
Voranai : If you look around you, you will see a wall. I believe that if you are an artist It's not just a job or a duty but It is an artist's instinct to break that wall. To be outside the box.
So that you can express 100% of you ideas and your creativity.
Therefore, if you are an artist who is still young, an up-and-coming, I can only say one thing to you, don’t be afraid.