A gallery in Bangkok, Thailand, has just unveiled what is believed to be the biggest exhibition of LGBTQ art in Asia. The show, entitled ‘SPECTROSYNTHESIS II – Exposure of Tolerance: LGBTQ in Southeast Asia’ will run until March 2020.
It follows a smaller exhibition, SPECTROSYNTHESIS I, which took place in 2017 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei in Taiwan. Both exhibitions have been coordinated by the Sunpride Foundation, which was formed in 2014 to showcase “the rich, creative history of the LGBTQ community.”
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The show is at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. It features work from more than 60 artists, including photography, painting, installations and performance-based work.
All of the artists herald from Southeast Asia, India or China.
Artists featured include Ming Wong, Balbir Krishan, David Medalla, Arin Rungjang (who represented Thailand in the 55th Venice Biennale), and Anne Samat, among others.
Also included is photographic work by the late Ren Hang, who took his own life in 2017 at the age of 29. Hang’s work includes intimate portraits of friends.
“What makes this show so powerful and critical is the fact that most artists are personally involved or can identify with the issue,” says lead curator Chatvichai Promadhattavedi.
“More crucially, the dialogue is about the freedom that art offers: the expression of the individual struggles for gender recognition and normalization; the battles fought for human rights; and winning respect amongst peers.”
LGBTQ rights face a patchwork of legislation across Asia. Gay sex was only decriminalized in India – the second most populated country in the world – last year.
In a sign that the region is becoming more accepting, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to introduce same-sex marriage earlier this year, and civil unions are widely expected to arrive in Thailand at some point soon.
Patrick Sun, founder of the Hong Kong-based Sunpride Foundation, told Thomson Reuters, “Art is less confrontational – it’s perhaps more palatable to the general public who may not go to a Pride march or support marriage equality.
“This is why it is in a public gallery because we want the general public to come and see the art, think about it, talk about it, and perhaps change their minds.”
More detail on the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre at bacc.or.th