Tada Hengsapkul is an internationally acclaimed contemporary artist, whose practice is often concerned with investigating and resisting various forms of control — at the level of the body, the collective, and society. He explains the context in which he works: “Now Thailand has a crisis about controlling the large amount of people who have come out to claim rights and liberties.” Tada addresses this crisis by purposefully positioning concerns specific to Thailand as being also emblematic of much more widely shared questions and experiences. The location in which the artist lives and works functions for him as a nexus point, at which manifold external and internal interests intersect.
Tada first became known for his photographic and video works, which often challenged taboos around nudity and youth culture. In recent years, he has become increasingly drawn to creating installations, which are often immersive or interactive, and draw on the aesthetics of militarized environments. The artist’s practice draws on long-term research, which he conducts in both official and informal archives, as well as through deliberate engagement with various media environments, and with specific communities. In the artist’s words: “My research is to live in a different way.”
Tada was born in 1987 in Korat, in the Isan region of northeastern Thailand. Korat has been home to American military bases since the period of the Second Indochina War, and the communities affected by lasting cultural and political legacies of this history have been a recurrent source of inspiration for the artist’s work. Aspects of the present “crisis” in Thailand are thus linked to twentieth century histories which are regional in scale, and relate to the global Cold War, as well as processes of decolonization and modernization.
Trained in photography at Bangkok’s Pohchang Academy of Arts, Tada has been exhibiting in Thailand since 2009, and internationally since 2011. His recent exhibitions include The 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2018), The Shards Would Shatter at Touch (Cartel Artspace, Bangkok, 2017), The Things That Take Us Apart (Gallery Seescape, Chiang Mai, 2017),Under the Same Sky (Nova Contemporary, Bangkok, 2016), Ying Chod Chai Chua (Toot Yung Gallery, Bangkok, 2014), Anthropos (Sundaram Tagore Gallery, Singapore, 2013), and The 2nd Chongqing Biennale for Young Artists (China, 2011). For a full list of solo and group exhibitions in Thailand and internationally, see the artist’s CV
Text by : Roger Nelson