[NetBehaviour] Att Poomtangon - On the Way to the Alps I See Sand.

marc garrett marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Fri Jul 24 12:00:10 CEST 2009

Att Poomtangon - On the Way to the Alps I See Sand.

On the Way to the Alps I See Sand.

With the site specific installation On the Way to the Alps I See Sand,
Thai artist Att Poomtangon (born 1973 in Bangkok) deals directly with
the geographical location of Portikus, taking the Main river surrounding
Portikus-island as a point of departure for a wide-ranging investigation
of how society deals with natural resources and the economical forces
produced as a result. As is often the case with Poomtangon, his work
first began by collecting research material from digital and print
media: on the meaning of water as resource, on fisheries, society's
relationship to fishing relative to the food pyramid, a reduction in
biodiversity, and on the river, the Main in Frankfurt, generally as well
as from an historical overview. As all of us are already aware, the
diversity of fish stocks is being constantly reduced and the ecological
equilibrium of our rivers is changing as a result.

These considerations range far beyond the local focus and associate the
situation of fish stocks in this country with conditions in Poomtangon's
home country of Thailand, where people live traditionally with and from
fishing even today. Still widespread, fishing in Thailand is done with
very direct means: with oversize, simple car tire inner tubes and large
plastic bowls fishermen move around on the water. They catch fish while
standing over the water, as if from a small island. The plastic bowls
serve simultaneously as a boat and also hold the catch. But in a
different way, in Thailand considerable value is also placed on honoring
the animal kingdom, which also involves societal rituals. People gather
together in temples in order to give fish sustenance, and to observe the
goings-on. And, not least, these moments also function as a distinct
form of social communication. Now a large - approx. 90 sqm. - tub of
water is situated inside Portikus's exhibition space. Moving about on
the water's surface are small, improvised inner tube boats, which can be
reached from a wooden bridge. Whoever is brave enough can navigate
around the almost 60-70cm deep water on plastic bowls and rubber tires,
and paddle through the exhibition space in order to also view the
research materials mounted on the walls. The room has been darkened and
only minor, selective sources of light in the form of suspended,
fish-shaped luminous objects provide orientation within the exhibition.


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