Taking a Trip Into Korakrit Arunanondchai's World

Image: Josh White

Arriving at the newly opened exhibition space in Los Angeles called The Mistake Room for the show Korakrit Arunanondchai (In Collaboration with boychild) "Letters to Chantri #1: The lady at the door/The gift the keeps on giving" I was surprised to find the staff working at desks set up at the front entrance. A woman playing the role of "the lady at the door" smiled and directed me to a narrow room with a single video monitor on a wall facing several rows of empty chairs.

Image: Josh White

The video had a tone that was both soothing and ominous. It began with a voice saying, "I am Korakrit. I once was an artist but now I am an orb." When it ended, a faint glow of flickering light seeped into my sight and I noticed "the lady at the door" standing at an entryway into another room. She beckoned me to follow her.

Before I had time to adjust, I was inside a massive space confronted with an army of white-clad mannequins in military formation. An aisle in the middle compelled me to walk toward a centrally placed fountain. A hand in the fountain held a transparent rectangle of glycerin soap with a spotlight focused on it. A video filled the back wall of the room. Two mirrored canvasses, smeared with bold colored paint, hung on opposing walls in front of it.

Image: Josh White

The video dominated the journey at this point. Scenes were set up like fashion shoots with models posing and staring directly at the camera in beautifully-styled interiors and exteriors. The video revealed that the paintings in the room were made by the artist hurling himself at them like Franz Kline. The attractive collective of Thai artists called Chantri smoked e-cigarettes. Celebrated performer, instagram star and muse boychild (who prefers no capitalizations) made a dramatic appearance and in a final shot, models cast silhouettes against the sunset in statuesque stances. It ended with a sympathetic cluster of people, again in white uniforms, clapping. I recognized in this audience some of the individuals who were present at the front desk of the gallery, including "the lady at the door."

As the action faded out, a sharp light beam appeared in the room and the "lady" stood smiling, beckoning me back to the here and now, her hand stretched out into the spotlight, offering me a cube of the same glycerin soap featured in the video. Departing the gallery with my soap in hand, I felt disoriented and a little sad to leave all this behind.

I also felt grateful.

The exhibition allowed me for the first time to step deeper into the artist's universe. My impression upon leaving this show was that the collaboration was not just between Arunanondchai and boychild as the press release stated, but also with The Mistake Room, a new and potent institution that clearly believes in the power of art to deliver an experience.

Image: Peter Kirby

The Mistake Room exhibition closes on September 13, 2014 and the address is: 1811 East 20th Street, Los Angeles, CA.