Shaping Authenticity: Architecture, Art and Commercial Space in Bangkok

Trude Renwick

University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, USA

In May 2017, in the midst of preparations for the upcoming funeral of the late honorable majesty King Bhumibol, an artist involved in the sculpting of a Garuda statue for the royal funeral pier posted pictures on social media of the statue which included Apple, Facebook, and Google logos embedded in the wings and belt of the figure. Despite the artist’s assertions that the inclusion of these symbols was meant to index the great leaps made in technology in Thailand during the late king’s reign, backlash ensued. Many saw the incorporation of these logos as an advertisement for these companies, considering them extremely inappropriate for the funeral of the Buddhist leader of the nation, and these logos were eventually removed. In this paper, I examine two main questions: What deems the use of Buddhist aesthetics and architecture as authentic or appropriate? How has the role of spirituality changed over the past twenty years in art and architecture? In doing so, I connect the work of late-twentieth century artists like Navin Rawanchaikul and Chalermchai Kositpipat to the changing aesthetics of Bangkok’s contemporary commercial landscape.

Biography: To come


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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