Asia

Pichet Piaklin
The Wings

The Wings by Pichet Piaklin is a creation story of fragility, where the desire for freedom is mired in blood red by the inculcation of faith and violence. Piaklin was born and continues to live and work in Thailand’s deep south, a geographical area once known as the Pattani Kingdom (now the Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat provinces), before it was annexed by the Siam Kingdom in the early 1900s. As a consequence of unreconciled historical conflict, this predominantly Muslim community continues to endure oppressive social and political conditions under the ruling Thai Buddhist monarchy. The tension between these Buddhist and Muslim communities has been rife with episodic violence, exacerbated by global terrorist group activities taking advantage of this local social divide. As a Buddhist member of this Muslim community, Piaklin lives under the draconian regulations of martial law: living with curfew, military check-points and prohibition of bookstores, cinemas, music performances and more.

The installation consists of seven sets of wings on seven double sheets of paper, hung vertically, suspended from the wall. Each page is imprinted with small red circles in grid formation; each imprint is created by a spent bullet. Some of the pages have been half scratched out with black ink; in another, only bullet marks remain. On one wing lies the cross of Christianity as a symbol of redemption; in another the ancient Sanskrit ‘swastika’ symbolising well-being.In front of each set of wings is an unfired ball of clay, suspended from the ceiling by thin red rope. Like much  of Piaklin’s work, this installation refers to the transformation and fragility of life through materiality—the fortitude of iron; the skin-like vulnerability of paper; the disintegration of clay.

 

Pichet Piaklin is an artist and teacher, whose commitment and belief in art saw him establish the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts at the Prince of Songkhla University in Pattani, in Thailand’s deep south. Piaklin’s work ponders the intellect of Buddhist doctrine (particularly its symbols reflecting processes of creation) leaning towards the Taoist and Zen Buddhist respect for nature as its own form of abstraction, believing its meditative practices of transformation are not only a significant mental, but material construct. Embracing print, drawing, painting, sculpture and installation, Piaklin’s work speaks of the fragility of life and its imperfection. His repetitive use of symbol, method, and motif offer a political critique of the repetitive violence enacted on his community, a fact that has him defiant in his refusal to show his work in Thailand outside of the Pattani Kingdom. Piaklin is a respected mentor in his community, the artists of ‘Pattani Art Space’ particularly, citing him as the pioneer of experimental art practice in Thailand’s deep south.