This article examines contemporary Thai artist Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook's video work on death since 1997. Investigating Araya's willed, long-term artistic history of intimacy and exchange with the dead, the article focuses not on the artwork's relation to mourning but rather on how the artist sketches out a feminist anatomy of desire in an idiom of negativity. In close connection, it examines the artist's explicit pedagogic intent to initiate public discussions on femininity and sexuality in Thailand. In her video performances, the artist reads passages from Thai classical literature or from her own erotic writing and sings to, converses with, and dresses corpses in a morgue. While these works situate longing and sexuality in a highly abstracted and dehistoricized domain, the article argues that Araya's video installations nevertheless proffer critiques of women's current erotic possibilities and that they may further be read to defamiliarize popular conventions of depicting female death as well as Buddhist forms of engaging with the dead in Thailand.
Arnika Fuhrmann; Making Contact: Contingency, Fantasy, and the Performance of Impossible Intimacies in the Video Art of Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook. positions 1 November 2013; 21 (4): 769–799. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-2346014
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