Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook


ABOUT THE ARTIST

Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook is one of Southeast Asia’s most respected and internationally active contemporary artists, and for the past 30 years, her video, installation, and graphic works have been regularly shown in institutions in her native Thailand and throughout the world. The first major survey of her work in the United States was recently on view at SculptureCenter in New York (2015), featuring an overview of her videos of the past 15 years alongside new sculptural works. She also recently presented a solo exhibition at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, Niranam (2015), which included a wide range of new works, encompassing video, installation, photography, and sculpture.

Born in Trad, Thailand, in 1956, Araya received her MFA from Silpakorn University in Bangkok in 1986, focusing on intaglio printmaking. Her etchings and aquatints of the late 1980s and early 1990s, with their ghost-like female figures in shadowy environments, set up themes – death, the body, and women’s experience – that would endure throughout her career. Feelings of loss and isolation, informed by the early death of her mother, and a heightened sensitivity to the strictures traditionally placed on women within Thai society, would increasingly find their expression in her work through the physicality of the body and the concreteness of sculptural installations, which by the early 1990s had become the primary focus of her work. Often incorporating semi-abstract, totemic female forms, natural materials, and haunting photographic imagery, all marked by a patina of age and wear, these installations confront us with the raw physicality of both life and death, charged with an almost animistic power that seems to channel powerful psychological states. These works were widely shown in such seminal exhibitions as the first Asia-Pacific Triennial in Brisbane, Australia (1993), and Traditions / Tensions: Contemporary Art in Asia, at Asia Society in New York (1996). Living with these often fragile, ephemeral sculptural works in her home, Araya began to examine more closely her relationship with “otherness,” with entities that were radically distinct from her, yet intimately linked by a commonality of experience, a participation in the basic cycles of nature, of life and death. By the late 1990s, this led her to bring rituals of the dead into her artistic practice, and to a shift to video work. In collaboration with the medical community, she began to film her own rituals for the dead at morgues, using corpses of individuals who died without family members to attend them. Incorporating her experience as a teacher (she remains an active member of an art school faculty), as well as her familiarity with Thai ritual practices, she created an extraordinary series of video works evoking the pedagogy of the classroom and the intimacy of private ceremonies, in which she attempts to connect the worlds of the living and the dead. The series was further developed in a residency at Artpace in San Antonio, Texas, in 1998, and had its culmination in a multi-channel video installation for the Thai Pavilion at the 2005 Venice Biennale. Videos such as The Class (2005) have since been widely exhibited at museums and biennials on four continents.

Video has remained the primary medium of Araya’s artistic practice to the present day. Still deeply informed by her earlier sculptural installation work, her videos are imbued with a strong physicality, with a close focus on bodies, often positioned in semi-abstract environments, their aura extending outward into the viewer’s own space. These videos typically imply the presence of an audience that is both observing the action and ceremonially participating in it. They reference traditions of village storytelling, which create continuities between the present and the past, the everyday world and the world of spirits and of legend. Her videos have a meditative, ritualistic quality, and, like many of humanity’s important rituals, they are often centered on the idea of communication between different realms: between the living and the dead, the insane and “normal” people, humans and animals, the worlds of art and “real life.” With her highly acclaimed series Two Planets (2008) and Village and Elsewhere (2011) – shown as part of her first New York solo exhibition in New York (Tyler Rollins Fine Art, 2012) – Araya focused on art itself and the way the viewer interacts with a work of art, placing framed reproductions of iconic Western paintings in rural villages, markets, and Buddhist temples in Thailand, where she filmed groups of farmers discussing the artworks. These videos create a meeting point between apparent oppositions: high art and everyday life; the personal and private spheres; elite and mass culture; art and commerce; East and West. While issues of class and cultural differences, exoticization of the “other,” etc., are invoked, these videos also convey a sense of curiosity, humor, and joy that emphasize a common humanity.

Dogs have been a recurring motif in Araya’s work, and indeed dogs are a very important part of her life; she cares for dozens of abandoned, often injured dogs in and near her home in Chiang Mai, Thailand. In an ongoing series of videos and multi-media installations, she explores the interrelationship between humans and dogs, chronicling the daily routines of life, but also suggesting wider themes about overcoming the binarisms of self and object, life and death, human and animal. For her installation project presented at the 2012 edition of Documenta, videos of her interactions with her canine family were screened on the outside of a small cabin in a park, where she and her dog Ngab also lived together for a month. This intimate pairing of the artist’s own body with that of her dogs appears throughout her current exhibition, Niranam. While the Thai title can be translated as “nameless,” in fact the works are highly personal, often featuring images of the artist or the individual dogs she lives with, and are a meditation on ways that the self, one’s body and psyche, exists in a continuum with other living beings (including animals), all participating in the ongoing cycle of life and death. The title Niranam can thus suggest that by delving deep into one’s experience, one can attempt to get at something that is beyond the self, and to a kind of pure experience that transcends the particularities of one’s circumstances, the pain of suffering, and even the apparent finality of death.

Niranam (2015)

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Niranam, 2008

installation with metal cabinets, wooden chairs, TV monitor, video

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Cuckoo, 2014

two screens in one channel video

9:55 min., edition of 5

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Lai Lee Ya, 2015

two channel video

11:24 min., edition of 5

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Scapist, 2015

single channel video

26:48 min., edition of 5

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In a Blur of Desire, 2006

three screens in one channel video

5:54 min., edition of 5

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Village Kids Singing and Five Young Villagers Have No iPhone, 2004-2015

single channel video with five lambda prints

photos: 52 x 20 in. (132 x 50 cm) each; video: 1:45 min.; edition of 5

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The One and Three Niranams, 2015

two lambda prints

diptych: each image 10 x 7 in. (24.5 x 18.5 cm), edition of 5

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Her Traces, 2014

lambda print

14 x 35 in. (35.5 x 90 cm), edition of 5

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An Artist With Six Dead Dogs' Spirits, 2015

set of six photographs on canvas

12 x 17 in. (31 x 42.5 cm) each, edition of 5

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Hair's Function, 2015

lambda print, dog fur carpet

photo: 23 x 15 in. (59 x 30 cm); carpet 23 x 15 in. (59 x 39 cm)

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Niranam's Object, 2015

dog fur carpet

37 x 61 in. (95 x 155 cm)

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Installation View of "Niranam" at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, February 19 - April 11, 2015

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Installation View of "Niranam" at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, February 19 - April 11, 2015

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Installation View of "Niranam" at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, February 19 - April 11, 2015

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Installation View of "Niranam" at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, February 19 - April 11, 2015

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Installation View of "Niranam" at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, February 19 - April 11, 2015

Sculpture Center (2015)

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View of the "Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook" Exhibition at the Sculpture Center, New York, Photo by Jason Mandella

2015

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View of the "Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook" Exhibition at the Sculpture Center, New York, Photo by Jason Mandella

2015

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View of the "Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook" Exhibition at the Sculpture Center, New York, Photo by Jason Mandella

2015

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View of the "Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook" Exhibition at the Sculpture Center, New York, Photo by Jason Mandella

2015

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View of the "Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook" Exhibition at the Sculpture Center, New York, Photo by Jason Mandella

2015

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View of the "Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook" Exhibition at the Sculpture Center, New York, Photo by Jason Mandella

2015

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View of the "Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook" Exhibition at the Sculpture Center, New York, Photo by Jason Mandella

2015

I was told that your work was more or less ‘too sad for Christmas’ (2015)

I was told that your work was more or less 'too sad for Christmas'... video installation; as exhibited in "East Asia Feminism: FANTasia" at Seoul Museum of Art, Korea, 2015

I was told that your work was more or less 'too sad for Christmas'... 2015

three channel video

Documenta (13) (2012)

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Documenta (13) Installation, Karlsaue Park, Kassel, 2012

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Documenta (13) Installation, Karlsaue Park, Kassel, 2012

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The Treachery of the Moon, 2012

video

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Pray, Bless Us With Rice and Curry Our Great Moon, 2012

video

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Village and Elsewhere, 2012

painted photo on metal box

Village and Elsewhere Series (2011)

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Village and Elsewhere: Artemisia Gentileschi's Judith Beheading Holofernes, Jeff Koons' Untitled, and Thai Villagers, 2011

video, 19:40 min., edition of 7

photography, 28 x 41 in. (71 x 104 cm), edition of 9

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Village and Elsewhere: Jeff Koons' Untitled, Cindy Sherman's Untitled, and Thai Villagers, 2011

video, 14:25 min., edition of 7

photography, 28 x 38 in. (71 x 96 cm), edition of 9

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Village and Elsewhere: Jeff Koons' Wolfman in Pakoitai Market and Sunday Market, 2011

video, 9 min., edition of 7

photography, 20 ½ x 35 ¼ in. (52 x 89.5 cm), edition of 9

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Village and Elsewhere, 2011

single channel video

25:30 min.

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Village and Elsewhere: Thai Villagers and Rembrandt's The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, 2011

digital pigment print

28 ¾ x 35 ¼ in. (73 x 89.5 cm)

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Village and Elsewhere: Thai Villagers and Artemisia Gentileschi's Judith of Holofernes, 2011

digital pigment print

28 ¾ x 38 ¾ in. (73 x 98.5 cm)

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Installation View of "Two Planets / Village and Elsewhere" at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, January 12 - February 25, 2012

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Installation View of "Two Planets / Village and Elsewhere" at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, January 12 - February 25, 2012

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Installation View of "Two Planets / Village and Elsewhere" at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, January 12 - February 25, 2012

In This Circumstance Series (2009)

In Reinterpreting Old Landscape We May Have To Endure Repetitions of the Same Old Karma, 2009

single channel video

Afterwards, Regret Rises in our Memory Even for Bygone Hardships, 2009

single channel video

The Two Planets Series (2008)

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Two Planets: Manet's Luncheon on the Grass and the Thai Villagers, 2008

video, 15:53 min., edition of 5

photograph, 29 ¾ x 29 ¾ in. (75.5 x 75.5 cm), edition of 9

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Two Planets: Millet's The Gleaners and the Thai Farmers, 2008

video, 14:43 min., edition of 5

photograph, 29 ¾ x 29 ¾ in. (75.5 x 75.5 cm), edition of 9

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Two Planets: Renoir's Ball at the Moulin de la Galette and the Thai Villagers, 2008

video, 10:52 min., edition of 5

photograph, 29 ¾ x 29 ¾ in. (75.5 x 75.5 cm), edition of 9

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Two Planets: Van Gogh's The Midday Sleep and the Thai Villagers, 2008

video, 18:18 min., edition of 5

photograph, 29 ¾ x 29 ¾ in. (75.5 x 75.5 cm), edition of 9

Two Planets: Renoir's Ball at the Moulin de la Galette and the Thai Villagers, 2008

photograph, 29 ¾ x 29 ¾ in. (75.5 x 75.5 cm), edition of 9

ENLARGE +

Installation View of "Two Planets / Village and Elsewhere" at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, January 12 - February 25, 2012

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Installation View of "Two Planets / Village and Elsewhere" at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, January 12 - February 25, 2012

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Installation View of "Two Planets / Village and Elsewhere" at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, January 12 - February 25, 2012

In a Blur of Desire (2007)

In a Blur of Desire, 2007

video

Storytellers of the Village (2006)

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Storytellers of the Village, 2006

five channel video

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Storytellers of the Village, 2006

five channel video

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Storytellers of the Village, 2006

five channel video

Faces, Life, Love, Lust (2006)

Faces, Life, Love, Lust, 2006

video

Conversations and the Class (2005)

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The Class, 2005

video

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The Class II, 2005

video

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The Class III, 2005

video

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Death Seminar A, 2005

single channel video

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Death Seminar B, 2005

single channel video

The Nine-Days Pregnancy (2005)

The Nine-Days Pregnancy of a Single, Middle-Aged Associate Professor, 2005

video

Why Is It Poetry Rather Than Awareness? (2002)

A Walk, 2002

video

I'm Living, 2002

single channel video

Im Living, 2002

single channel video

Sudsiri and Araya, 2002

two channel video

Sudsiri and Araya, 2002

two channel video

White Princess White Birds, 2002

single channel video

Thai Medley I, 2002

three channel video

Thai Medley II, 2002

three channel video

Thai Medley III, 2002

three channel video

Three female scapes, 2002

three channel video

Three female scapes, 2002

three channel video

Three female scapes, 2002

three channel video

Lament of Desire (1998)

Lament, 1998

video

Reading for One Female Corpse, 1998

single channel video

Reading for Three Female Corpses, 1998

single channel video

Buang (1995)

Buang (Trap), 1995

wood, stone, photo etchings, rope, soil, dried flowers, metal

approx. 197 x 315 x 177 in. (500 x 800 x 450 cm)

Buang (Trap) (detail), 1995

wood, stone, photo etchings, rope, soil, dried flowers, metal

approx. 197 x 315 x 177 in. (500 x 800 x 450 cm)

Buang (Trap) (detail), 1995

wood, stone, photo etchings, rope, soil, dried flowers, metal

approx. 197 x 315 x 177 in. (500 x 800 x 450 cm)

Buang (Trap) (detail), 1995

wood, stone, photo etchings, rope, soil, dried flowers, metal

approx. 197 x 315 x 177 in. (500 x 800 x 450 cm)

During The Time I Grew Up (1994)

During the Time I Grew Up I Found an Old Picture So Sweet, 1994

wooden chairs, metal bed, photographs, mirrors, cups, wooden vessels, mirror, plastic cast, soil

Has Girl Lost Her Memory (1994)

Has Girl Lost Her Memory, 1994

metal bed, corn husks

The Lovers (1993)

The Lovers, 1993

metal chairs, plaster busts, metal stands, rubber sheets with text in white wax pencil

Early Graphic Works

Life in Landscape, 1980

intaglio

24 ¼ x 20 in. (61.5 x 51 cm)

Photo of Women I, 1990

resin and etching ink on zinc

36 ½ x 36 ½ in. (93 x 93 cm)

The Parting II, 1990

relief etching and aquatint

23 ½ x 36 ¼ in. (60 x 92 cm)

The Dream of Mother, 1990

aquatint

15 ¼ x 36 ¼ in. (39 x 92 cm)

Selected Exhibitions

Installation View of "Conversation I, The Class, This is Our Creation" at the 51st Venice Biennale, 2005

video

Installation View at Dojima River Biennale, 2013

Installation View at Dojima River Biennale, 2013

Installation View at Asian Art Biennial, 2013

Installation View at Asian Art Biennial, 2013

View of the exhibition, Two Planets / Village and Elsewhere, at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, JANUARY 12 - FEBRUARY 25, 2012

Installation View at The Bass Museum of Art, Miami, Florida, 2012

Installation View at The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland, 2012


WORKS

Niranam (2015)

Sculpture Center (2015)

I was told that your work was more or less ‘too sad for Christmas’ (2015)

Documenta (13) (2012)

Village and Elsewhere Series (2011)

In This Circumstance Series (2009)

The Two Planets Series (2008)

In a Blur of Desire (2007)

Storytellers of the Village (2006)

Faces, Life, Love, Lust (2006)

Conversations and the Class (2005)

The Nine-Days Pregnancy (2005)

Why Is It Poetry Rather Than Awareness? (2002)

Lament of Desire (1998)

Buang (1995)

During The Time I Grew Up (1994)

Has Girl Lost Her Memory (1994)

The Lovers (1993)

Early Graphic Works

Selected Exhibitions

An Atlas of Mirrors An Endless of Beginnings

February, 2017


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Bangkok Post, Where time and space cease to exist

November, 2016


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Asia Society, In & Out of Context

March, 2016


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ARTnews, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook at SculptureCenter and Tyler Rollins Fine Art

June, 2015


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Artforum, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook at the SculptureCenter

May, 2015


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Artillery, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook at the SculptureCenter and Tyler Rollins Gallery

May, 2015


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Art in America, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook at SculptureCenter

April, 2015


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The New York Times, SculptureCenter: ‘Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook’

February, 2015


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ARTnews, 9 Art Events to Attend in New York City this Week

February, 2015


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Bangkok Post, Confronting social taboos through art

February, 2015


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The New York Times, East and West Meet, Checking Norms at the Door

February, 2015


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The New Yorker, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook

February, 2015


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Interview Magazine, The Artist, one of the Others

February, 2015


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Blouin Art Info, Cadavers, Canines, and Koons at the SculptureCenter

January, 2015


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Artspace, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook on Lecturing the Dead, and the Art of the One-Sided Conversation

January, 2015


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Artforum, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook at the SculptureCenter

January, 2015


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Blouin Art Info, Thai Artist Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook Emerges From the Shadows in Sydney

April, 2014


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Hofstra University Museum, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook

2014


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Artshub, Thai artist’s overdue moment in the Australian sun

2014


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Dirge: Reflections on (Life and) Death

2014


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Artforum, 2013 California-Pacific Triennial

December, 2013


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Blouin Art Info, The Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative’s “No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia”

March, 2013


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The Nation, A new country conquered

March, 2013


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The Miami Herald, At the Bass on Miami Beach, the Renaissance lives on

February, 2013


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The New York Times, Acquired Tastes of Asian Art

February, 2013


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Art Asia Pacific, Araya at Tyler Rollins Fine Art

February, 2013


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Los Angeles Times, Orange County museum names 32 triennial artists from Seoul to San Francisco

January, 2013


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California-Pacific triennial, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook

2013


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Miami New Times – Art

December, 2012


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Forbes, Dispatches From Miami Beach: The Best Break From Basel

December, 2012


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Blouin Art Info, Miami’s Bass Museum Blows the Lid Off Tradition With “Endless Renaissance” Show

December, 2012


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Paper Magazine, The Mega Guide to Art Basel Miami Beach 2012: Wednesday

December, 2012


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The Art Newspaper, The Endless Renaissance

December, 2012


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dOCUMENTA (13) The Guidebook, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook

June, 2012


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Artforum, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook at Tyler Rollins Fine Art

May, 2012


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Art in America – International Review, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook at Tyler Rollins

May, 2012


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The New York Times, Solo Show for Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook at Tyler Rollins

February, 2012


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Solo exhibition at the Walters Art Museum

2012


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Kaza Ana / Air Hole: Another Form of Conceptualism from Asia

2011


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Video, An Art, A History 1965-2010 catalogue

2011


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17th Sydney Biennale

2010


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Close Encounter exhibition catalogue

2010


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Asian Art Now, Politics, Society and the State

2010


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Art Asia Pacific, Dialogues With Difference

November, 2009


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Thermocline of Art: New Asian Waves, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook

June, 2007


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Wind from the East exhibition catalogue, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook

February, 2007


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Art Signal, Confronting Confrontation: An Interview with Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook

2007


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2006 Taipei Biennial, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook

2006


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51st Venice Biennale Catalogue, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook

2005


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10th Biennale of Sydney, essay by Lynne Cooke

1996


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Traditions/Tensions: Contemporary Art in Asia, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook

1996


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Southeast Asian Art Today, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook

February, 1996


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54th Carnegie International

1994


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Asia Pacific Triennial Catalogue

1993


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