Who is Navin
Due to a series of fortunate circumstances Navin Rawanchaikul arrives to Stockholm with his wife and child. He’s coming to oversee the installation of our exhibition and is of course going to be present at the opening.
We plan to show him Stockholm, taking the family to Skansen, the oldest open-air museum in the world, with houses from the old Sweden and a zoological park, located at the island of Djurgården, a royal park near the gallery. We are also taking them to the close by, Biological museum to show them the fantastic panoramic paintings of Swedish national romantic painter Bruno Liljefors and all the stuffed animals representing the Swedish fauna. If the weather is nice we invite them for lunch at a restaurant Hasselbacken. Then we take the ferry back to the main land.
Our sweet friend, assistant curator Jo Widoff at the Modern Museum also invites him for lunch. She wants him to have a look of a missing detail at the large painting, Same, Same but Yesterday. The painting is part of their collection and currently presented at the premises. We have the sketches for the painting and we are going to show them together with a Bollywood film and related material. We are also organizing carton reading and prepare for a party.
We went to Ciang Mai on pure impulse. Navin Rawanchaikul was born here in 1971 by Indian parents descendent from Punjab. The vague idea of our trip was to visit some of the temple sites where he together with other young local artists helped organizing the first Ciang Mai Social Installation (CMSI) in the early 90’s. Our expedition turned out to bless us with an unexpected kick-start, a profound experience, not of specific works, but of how Navin’s practice as an artist in a general sense connects to the being-in-the-world.
On the airport I remember your jokes of how Thailand is described at the CIA webpage: “It’s the only Southeast Asian country never to have been taken over by a European power.”
– Could anyone inform CIA about tourism? You laughed.
We also admired the central intelligence poetic geographical description of the country: “The central terrain is plain; there is the Khorat Plateau in the east and mountains elsewhere.” We expected this scenery to be filled with ancient relics and blooming flowers in clash with booming economy and capitalist developments and it was with Navins own words in mind “When you want to know something about a city, taxi drivers are the best source of information” we jumped into a car outside the terminal. We gave the driver the address of the hotel. I saw him looking at us in the rear-view mirror as he put the car in motion. We took the chance to ask him about a numeral of things including the contemporary art scene. He ignored all of our questions and started instead re-telling the plot of a movie he recently seen. As the city past by and slowly started to vanish outside the windows he explained that the protagonists of the movie, Sarah and Yumi where two top-secret sex slaves for a high-ranking government official. They spend their days in a bizarre slave-labour station where they produced pro-war polo shirts by hand and lived in constant fear. I don’t remember if he ever came to the catastasis, but at the time he let us of in front of the hotel we knew that this episode in the taxi in a strange and synchronous way was the secret goal of our journey.
WE HAD COME TO MEET THIS TAXI DRIVER!!!