The Good Lab – Artist Residency Update

Last night’s exhibition opening was fantastic, and an honour to be part of this with such talented artists while we are here in Chiang Mai together.

It has been a whirlwind of a week, with all 21 artists from across the world, with artists from here in Thailand, and from Indonesia, The Philippines, Portugal, Cambodia, Spain, Taiwan, the USA and fellow Australians, all getting to know each other and our practices, sharing ideas, inspirations, and already brainstorming together ways to collaborate on outcomes for week two.

We kicked everything off with an impromptu house party with the New Burma collective, then a welcome dinner together, and I believe on day two, we had a fabulous walking tour looking at the architecture of the people by the even more fabulous professor Ajarn Phuwa of Studiophuwa, which was so fascinating.

Two panel discussions in the grounds of Wat Chomphu Temple, on the re-invention of Public space in Chiang Mai, with Phwua, and remarkable artists Wave Weeratouch Pongruengkiat, and Krai Sridee, and Art for Air, a time for reflection, looking at the issues of the pollution crisis here, with insights of the work and research by artist Som Supaparinya, Worapoth Kongngern and Sasiwimon Wongjarin, founder and director of Studio 88 artist residency, where we also met a group of environmental artists also currently on residency here in Chaing Mai, with Sasiwimon.

Lucky for me, I also got to celebrate my birthday in the middle of this residency! So, on my birthday, we went to the Loft Cafe/Golden Land Solidarity Collective (what a beautiful space! I highly recommend if you find yourself in Chiang Mai) for a creative talk and panel discussion, ‘Aren’t We All Displaced?’ where we heard from the inspirational, Hnin Yee, the co-founder of Newburma Suchart, co-founder of Titang, Ganji of Triple Edge and Breanna, the founder of Golden Land Solidarity Collective, who are all actively doing so much for their communities, to support, empower, advocate and celebrate the culture and people of Myanmar and those displaced.

We then ended the evening with a screening on a rooftop of a Sudanese film, ‘Talking About Trees’, Directed by Suhaib Gasmelbari, which was hosted by Dude Movie, a film screening collective decentralising access to moving image. This was such a fitting location to watch this film, given the topic, where the filmmakers struggled to open and screen a film in an open-air cinema for their community.

Along with another screening of documentaries on Friday night of ‘Mother and Me’, by Setthasiri Chanaradpong, for its premiere in Northern Thailand, and Captial of Mae La, by Nuankhanit Phromchanya, which was followed by talk on the topic of displaced people, with the directors and Sorayut Aiemueayut, writer of ‘Becoming Melayu’, Walai Buppha, producer of ‘Mother and Me’ and curator of ‘Heard the Unheard: Remembrance of Tak Bai 2004, Hnin the co-founder of Newburma and Nuankhanit Belle Phromchanya, Director of Capital of Maela.

I have also seen and made friends with so many street cats, walked a ridiculous amount each day, so much so that my phone is confused by the increased step count. Shared and enjoyed incredible food and drinks with artists and locals while sharing stories and experiences. Heaps of live music and late-night adventures. Followed each morning by copious amounts of coffee as we have all tried to digest the intense week we have had over week one of The Good Lab residency by Micro Galleries.

And while I am still processing much of it, and I suspect I will be for quite some time, it has already inspired so much, and I am so thankful for the experience and the connections I am making here.
Today is a quiet and slower start, which is very much needed. After our opening last night and dancing the night away at a cool underground bar, I am currently in a van heading up the mountain with everyone to experience the last night of the Shambhala festival.
I am looking forward to the final week of collaborations and working with the community to reclaim an old alleyway into a more welcoming and safe space for the community.