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Sense of identity: Craft, decoration and queer challenges in the art of Jakkai Siributr

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This article examines contemporary debates on the historical and theoretical relationship between craft and visual art through an analysis of the artworks of Jakkai Siributr. Siributr, a Thai artist based in Bangkok and who studied in the United States, creates tapestries and installations based on methods of weaving, constructed textiles and embroidery. Through the tracing of a critical history of relationships between art and craft since early influential precedents in proto-feminist and feminist art to more recent works by Ghada Amer and Do-Ho Suh, the article identifies how the art/craft division is typically understood as transgressed only on certain conditions: that opticality is emphasized over the haptic and the artist is engaged with issues of sociocultural identity. Noting how this complicates pervasive suggestions that the ‘international art world’ is a domain of free play – that is, that all forms of practices are potentially equally valid under the rubric of ‘contemporary art’ – Siributr’s works are explored as disrupting the discursive tradition of art/craft because his methods slip between optic and haptic experience and challenge an easy assimilation to questions of identity. This disruption is partly based on the artist’s use of the form and rhetoric of the ‘decorative’, and the article elaborates the challenges that Siributr poses for unspoken divisions of art and craft in terms of practice and types of engagement. These challenges are contextualized by remarks on the queer-theoretical interest of what it means to expose and break norms and shape less binary or dualistic forms of understanding and practice.
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Keywords: Jakkai Siributr; contemporary art; craft; decoration; feminist art; queer theories

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Bangkok University International College, Thailand

Publication date: March 1, 2016

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  • The aim of Craft Research is to advocate and promote current and emerging craft research, including research into materials, processes, methods, concepts, aesthetic and style. This may be in any discipline area of the applied arts and crafts, including craft education.

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