Title: Fly with Me to Another World (Vol.1)
Year: 2000
Page: 80 (Softcover)
Publisher: Navin Production Co., Ltd.

Related Exhibition/Project:

Fly with Me to Another World

An artist embarks on his own journey to retrace the legend of his predecessor Inson Wongsam.

 

Judging from their covers, the two volumes in Navin Production's series Fly with Me to Another World appear at first glance as the same book. In actuality, the photographs on the covers were taken more than 40 years apart. The first volume's cover shows a photo of Inson Wongsam on his scooter, shot in India during his journey of the year 1962. The second volume is of the same person in the same pose, but taken in 2005 in his hometown in Thailand.

 

Both volumes are put together as scrapbooks based on the scooter journey legend of Inson Wongsam, celebrated National Artist of Thailand and infamous protagonist of the Fly with Me to Another World project. Containing a lot of photos and news clippings. There are also comic strips narrating the origin of the project and how Navin and Inson, met each other. An interesting technique worth noting is that that the exact same comics are used in both volumes but the dialogues are different. This particular technique alludes to how the two volumes are connected even though both artistic content and generational differences distinguish the two artists.

 

The first volume contains reproductions of Inson's personal photos and news clippings that he has collected since entering the art world. The visual presentation and narration of Inson's life story is organized into a series of interviews and reflections by Navin. They describe Inson's creativity, lifestyle, and journeys that later made him a legend. Inson's personal history in Fly with Me to Another World thus touches upon the history of art, both globally and locally. It discusses the importance of Professor Silpa Bhirasri in Inson's development as an artist, as well as other influential factors such as the development of modern aesthetics in Thai society, art sponsorship, and the structure of the art world in the 1950s and 60s. These influences accompanied mainstream historical developments and trends that shaped the contemporary art community. For instance, the narrative tells the story of Inson's journey from Pasang to Bangkok and on to the art capitals of Florence, Paris, and New York. This narrative concludes with an ironic reversal in which Inson retraces his steps to return to his hometown. Thus he chooses to discipline himself ascetically and consequently becomes criticized for his odd lifestyle.

 

In addition to a collection of Inson's news clippings and personal pictures in the first volume of Fly with Me to Another World contains his old letters and postcards, maps and advertisements from the 1960s, as well as an article by Professor Silpa regarding Inson's solo exhibition at graduation.

 

The second volume of Fly with Me to Another World documents the artwork begun in 1999 and which was presented in Inson's hometown of Lumphun. This book was first published at the end of the project and distributed to the international participants of the Public Art In(ter)vention symposium, held in February 2005. The book is noted for its balance and objectivity, as its creators sought to avoid the pitfalls of what would otherwise have become an homage to Inson. Instead, different points of view are arranged together as fragmentary parts of a larger story.

 

During the symposium Navin was criticized for imposing his own narrative on top of Inson's personal story. And even more severe was the accusation that Navin had sought to exploit or steal Inson's voice. His actions were, however, taken as an intervention in space and time in order to reinvent a new narrative approach. The narrative that Navin inserted into his comics was revised so that readers would realize that Navin said was only a part of the presentation, a storytelling device. It was up to the reader to weigh the difference and distinguish by themselves that which was Inson's original narrative and that which had been layered on top of it.

 

Rirkrit Tiravanija contributed a piece entitled A mouse on the moon: a film about how a small eccentric nation beat the superpowers to the moon, without even knowing it. This piece was republished from the catalogue, Guanrene Arte 99, from an exhibition held in Italy in 1999 at the Foundazione Sandretto Re Rebaundengo per L'Arte, where Navin first presented Fly with Me to Another World. This article deals with self-criticism and questions the way in which artists bring their art to the public as a part of trends that involve many uncontrollable factors. The effort of an artist is likened to that of a little mouse in a vast universe. Each artist tries his or her best to overcome the obstacles of time and space. They enter unfamiliar territory. This involves inserting oneself into the local history of a country or community. To illustrate the strangeness of this process, Rirkrit uses the metaphor of a journey to the moon ending the article by stating, 'Navin has journeyed away in order to return with the realization that the aura of history is no longer in a distant place but in the neighborhood of his own home'. Rirkrit leaves the reader with a meditation on pre-Aristotelian and Buddhist thought, both of which encourage us to be well aware of basic values such as knowing oneself, living for a purpose, and sharing love with neighbors.

 

Both volumes of Fly with Me to Another World are documentary in nature. They address the way in which art interacts with community. The books also pay respect to the great artist, Inson Wongsam, who followed a path to an unknown horizon.

 

Words: Worathep Akkabootara

Published in Navin's Sala





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