Give more than you take, 2010
Give More Than You Take, 2010
Installation with a wooden tower and variable elements
-Tod tee sweden mend thung mor-chit, 2010 Diverse objects arranged by Pierre Bal- Blanc, 506 kg, variables dimensions
Tod tee sweden mend thung mor-chit: the title of this work uses a phonetic translation from Thaï, a formula used for karaoke to allow even those who do not speak the language to pronounce the verses. Pratchaya Phinthong spent the summer of 2010 in Swedish Lapland, a province in northernmost part of the nordic country, where he was hired as a seasonal wild berry picker, sharing the living and working conditions of other labourers brough in from Thaïland.
At the end of each labouring day, Phinthong would send a text message to Pierre Bal-Blanc, director of the CAC Bretigny who had invited him for a project, indicating how many kilos of berries he had picked that day and asking him to accumultae the same weight in various objects. The result is a sculpture that changes according to the formal choices made by the curator responsible for the exhibition, who has to decide which materials to use as well as their arrangement in space.
In Bretigny, Pierre Bal-Blanc chose objects destined to be thrown out. In the case of an exhibition in Bergamo, the curator Alessandro Rabottini translated the 549 kg of berries picked by the artist into the equivalent amount of earth excavated for the foundation of the extension of the new Museum of the Carrara Academy, which is currently closed to the public for restoration. Aside from the symbolism of regeneration implicit in the decision to use earth, the work constitutes a reflection to the fact that no part of reality, from the natural environment to the exhibition space, can be considered ‘neutral’ with respect to the implications of economics and power.
The title of the work Allemansrätten refers to the ‘right of public access’ that is part of swedish law, guaranteeing that everyone can cross public and private natural spaces to pick wild flowers and fruits.
During his time as a berry-picker in Lapland, Phinthong witnessed the way in which zones are patrolled and controled by armed civilians acting as guards to plantations, actively menacing people under the excuse that they protect a land that is, by law, of public access.
The artist stated: ‘when I dismantled that tower the only thing I had in mind was to get it out of there before we encountered any problems. There is an infinite availability of lumber in the world to construct thousands of towers, but my only thought was that of feeling a little safer from the shooting for which it could no longer be used’.
The exhibition Give More Than You Take takes nature as a symbolic space of economic and political tensions, and as the terrain in which global changes are made visible in everyone’s daily life. Rather than being a metaphor for the ideal and uncontaminated, nature reveals itself to be the space of eco- nomic and political division, of the flow of goods and people, of transit and transformation. The exhibition is also an invitation and tribute to the sentiment of sharing, which the artist lived throughout his experience as a berry picker.