In Convo with: Korakrit and Noguchi Lamp
In our 2nd Art Issue (Feb-March 2016), Korakrit Arunanondchai sat down to converse with his Noguchi Lamp about personal experiences and what it means to be an object of art.
June 21, 2017
One of the most internationally recognized Thai artists, Korakrit Arunanondchai has engaged with various materials, all in the pursuit of making art. Experimenting with everything from his own body to pieces of trash, Korakrit’s works are a medley of material objects and self-representation. Exclusively for 2Magazine, the renowned artist conducted a conversation with his Noguchi Lamp, talking about art, commodity, and anything in-between.
Korakrit Arunanondchai: How are you?
Noguchi Lamp: Very well, thank you. I’ve been used a lot lately because the sun has been going down so early.
Krit: Are you tired?
Noguchi Lamp: A little, but I’m getting some rest right now because it’s daytime. Hey, I wanted to ask you something: why did you buy me?
Krit: Ummm, I had been to the Noguchi Museum several times so I had seen you around for a while but I didn’t have an eye to notice your beauty yet. I thought you were this generic “asiatique” kind of lamp, but after seeing a documentary about Isamu Noguchi, I started to understand something more about your aesthetic that freezes time. There’s something kind of “off” about you which makes you beautiful and inspiring. This thing is something that I’ve come to fully accept since I’ve lived with you.
Noguchi Lamp: But, for instance, Ikea makes a bunch of lamps that are good replicas of me...
Why didn’t you just get a lamp there?
Krit: Because Ikea lamps don’t have this “off” thing that makes you beautiful.
Noguchi Lamp: I see. Some people would consider me a luxury object, which is kind of how art can be considered at times. An object that transcends its purpose. As an artist, do you think about the way you were just describing me, as this sort of object that has another kind of power that makes you think about bigger things than my purpose of lighting a room? How do you feel about that in comparison to buying art or, in your case, making art and having it purchased by people and how they might have a relationship with your work similar to the relationship you have with me?
Krit: I see you as having a quality of minimalistic art that’s kind of phenomenological: you’re very vertical and quite like a person standing in the room, and you emit light, so you appear much as a being.
Noguchi Lamp: Am I a work of art?
Krit: Yeah, totally. I guess it’s kind of art for me to think of hierarchies in the world of objects.
Noguchi Lamp: So I’m not less precious than a unique painting? Even though I’m relatively mass produced?
Krit: Hmm, well, less people have you in their homes than Ikea lamps.
Noguchi Lamp: So there is some sort of a hierarchy there, don’t you think?
Krit: Yes, as much as I don’t want to believe that there is.
Noguchi Lamp: When you first create an object for an exhibition, do you think about how it will eventually end up, hopefully in a museum or a collector’s home? Do you think about how a person might experience living with an object of your creation the way you experience living with me every day?
Krit: No, I don’t. I think the reason I like you and understand you as a work of art is because I think object's function best when they’re inside a context where they can kind of perform their own duty in the world of objects. You are meant to be in a home while reminding me of all these other values, such as form and awkwardness, while leading back to the ideas established by Noguchi himself.
Noguchi Lamp: So you see me as a portal to his ideologies?
Krit: Yes, but I’m also aware of your functional value. I make my artwork with no intention for it to be hung in a home. Like, of course someone can hang a painting in their home, but they aren’t made with that in mind.
Noguchi Lamp: What I like in your work is that your exhibitions and how you construct your art doesn’t scream “commodity” in a way; if it does end up in someone’s home, as it often does, it’s almost as if it’s a fragment of the bigger picture of your installations, which are, like me, quite experiential. You create an experience and then people can bring home a little memory of that experience. The painting is more than just the painting: it represents an idea, a mixture of your videos, the music, the fog, the performance, the sculptures…the whole environment you create. That’s how the commodity potential of your work differentiates from my commodity potential as a luxurious lamp.
Krit: That’s quite true. I’ve sold works in sets that are pieces of the installation and seen them installed in people’s homes just as they were in the gallery: the painting is on the wall, the mannequin in the corner, the pillow on the floor… Together, these objects make the space, and people can use these objects, like sit on the pillows.
Noguchi Lamp: I’m starting to understand better why you bought me now: you like art that can actually be used.
Krit: Yes, but if I were to make pieces for someone’s house, I would want them to be made specifically for their house, like design them a new window or a chair. I’m very interested in making furniture.
Noguchi Lamp: Well maybe you’ll head in the direction of Alexander Rodchenko some day…
Krit: or of Isamu Noguchi!