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Marina Abramović and Leandro Erlich in Bangkok Art Biennale 2020

In the grave new world that we live in, cracks are appearing everywhere. Trade wars, cyberattacks, waves of migration, unresolved territorial disputes, racism, genocide and terrorism are incredibly disruptive. All is not well in Europe and America and not much optimism in the Middle East, South America, Asia and Africa for that matter. With China’s Road and Belt expansion and US go-it-alone approach of “Let’s make America great again,” the world awaits inevitable collision. Graham Allison’s book Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap? unravels doom and gloom in the near future.

Our dream of utopia is running on empty. The fantasy paradise in the Land of Plenty where wine, milk and honey flowed as people partied, sunbathed and slept around, an escape from earthly suffering, has turned bitter and sour. Yet, technology has developed miraculously to the point that miracles seem normal. We obtain super abilities to transform our own bodies beyond recognition through plastic surgery and augmented reality. We move and communicate across distances with high speed; escape old age and extend life expectancy through nanotechnology and stem cells. The quest for immortality, eternal happiness and superhuman powers often make us forget how miniscule we are on this planet.

Trapped together in our own mess, we blame one another and search for a way out. Inescapably entwined we are entangled with others even when we cannot track or directly perceive this entanglement. Culture of fear has driven us to be afraid of our enemies who were once our friends, relatives and neighbors. However, we face a much more serious danger and threat due to drastic climate change and earth warming that is moving closer to the brink of a broad disaster.

For Bangkok Art Biennale 2020 to be held in Bangkok, one of the world’s leading creative cities, the theme is “Escape Routes.” Based on our current predicament it is an attempt to understand and search for ways out of this cataclysm. Driven by propaganda and paranoia we are constantly bombarded by pessimistic and depressing news. In one way or another we attempt to find a solution but the labyrinthian paths are full of obstacles.

In search for survival we confront our possible futures through the eyes and vision of artists and creative thinkers whose art and action will offer us hope and desire for a better humankind and caring for the earth. The artists will be invited to find escape routes by reflecting on issues such as environmental detriment, pollution, social malaise, gender, diaspora, inclusivity and political differences. Moreover, they will offer art practice as mind escapism where meditation, contemplation, ritualism, healing and performance become the essence of hope and optimism.

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