Art/Culture

Paper Trails

2Magazine follows a trail that leads to an abandoned printing press to rediscover the work of Kornkrit Jianipidnan at his latest installation: Paper Trails.

April 11, 2017
In the digital age, leaving a physical paper trail so that information can be discovered at some point in the future is usually done intentionally—think hand-written manuscripts or prints of untouched digital photographs. Without such a trail, either purposefully or unintentionally deleted or destroyed, a part of history is erased; conversely, a trail—specifically a paper trail—shows that whatever happened was (is) real: it is the record of the process, the journey.

Kornkrit Jianipidnan’s Paper Trails is a case in point. First of all, it is not a show in a gallery; it is a derelict space. It is an installation that you can almost stumble upon without realizing that it is a work of art. It is a trail of some sort: relics of documentation that someone left in an empty space to collect dust—or to be examined by the curious.

Across from the hidden Ku Bar, in a dusty and lonely space with shining neon strips, we discovered a paper trail leading to an abandoned printing press, of all places—a venue that, we soon realize, is integral to the experience. Peering into a doorless entry we discovered some paper, amidst other objects, and realized that this was Kornkrit’s Paper Trails: a trail that contains snapshots of particular moments in time from light that was recorded on film (or, nowadays, by digital sensors) and printed for posterity. For two decades Kornkrit has been doing exactly this—capturing light at certain moments in time to create compositions unique to that moment—first applying his eye and process as a fashion photographer and, in the last decade or more, to art.

Part of a collective of artists that was once known as Asyet, Kornkrit pursues his own unique language, in both photography and film. Entering Paper Trails, we first came across a rolled up script that is a transcript of the recording we heard in the Isan house, where his photographs decorated the wall. In the house, the recording was in Thai (at Art on Farm 2011 at the Jim Thompson Farm). The script he has left here is in English. It is evidence of something past, and yet it has been changed.

As we continued to walk through the space, we saw relics of his work from different times. A print of nature, part of another series, perhaps a new one. The last time we were immersed in Kornkrit’s world was at Bangkok CityCity, where we saw a series of buildings: pixelated and unclear, the images captured the changing landscape of Bangkok through his own windows. It is a personal language he speaks: despite the the blurriness of the images, it is clear that they are of our beloved city and there is a forlorn mood, as if the city feels itself changing.

It is his compositions that are telling of his work: they are not elaborate, but they are clear in depicting objects in space. There is a picture of a man in a market: a lone portrait that hangs on a wall (bear in mind that these walls are of the derelict kind found in shophouses), held up a by a piece of wood on a slant. When asked what this was, Kornkit said it is a portrait he thought should be held up by an easel. And that it is.

Then there is the opened magazine (the Elle Men project that he did), the first thing in “fashion” he has ventured into in years: not fashion per se, but rather an exploration of different moments in a particular space. By utilizing models in clothes of the season to explore a place he had always wanted to capture (a forgotten museum in the old town), Kornkrit is able to capture the museum rooms and halls, giving life to a space life that is often left ignored.
We turned a corner and arrived at the end of the room. More documentation, more work—or fragments of work—collected over the years. Then we arrived at a most curious area, what resembled an installation in the vein of Fischli and Weiss of found objects, works-in-progress: piles of unused planks and paper seemingly asking us to examine them. There is a pile of bricks, perfectly arranged. Were these objects and materials part of the process of assembling his work? After all, there appears to be some kind of trail tucked into the building materials. They were not. These objects were found there. They existed before Kornkrit intervened and created his paper trail in the space.

Perhaps it is only through an art lens that these old, now-useless building materials can have a secondary meaning. Their discovery as found objects in a storage room should be no surprise: utilizing these no longer useful items in his own work is what is intriguing. Kornkrit has interjected the trail that was left by the space's previous owners with his own trail.

The old printing press that once occupied the space has clearly left its own trail. The markings on the floor indicate where the walls once separated the space into rooms. The old printing machines have left their marks on the floor too, having once occupied the same floorspace for such a long time. That Kornkrit chose this venue, this room, that has left its own trail—echoes of a time when volumes of paper were created, spawning even more trails—seems serendipitous, if not intentional. Kornkrit has created his own narrative within a room that retains a trail of it’s own past life, giving it new life, albeit a temporary one, to showcase the trail of his own 12-plus years of work.

For those who see the show and ponder the nature of Paper Trails, every time you go to Ku Bar for a drink you will remember that the derelict space in front of it was once an installation—and before that a printing press. Paper Trails alters history and paves a way for you to go forward: it leads you somewhere. Thank you Kornkrit for reminding us that the trail itself is a journey: an ever meandering and changing one. That, by following any paper trail or trace left by someone, you might discover something new, something to think about, and that is the point of it all.

PAPER TRAILS solo exhibition is on display at 469 Phra Sumeru Road (3rd floor).
The exhibition runs till May 7, 2017. Open Thursday to Sunday (7PM to 12AM)