World’s Best Awards: Is­lands

Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia - - CONTENTS - bkkart­bi­en­nale.com; un­til Fe­bru­ary 3; free en­try. – ELOISE BA­SUKI

The an­nual T+L poll re­sults re­vealed your fa­vorite is­lands, with Asia scor­ing top hon­ors.

The Thai cap­i­tal has trans­formed into a city­wide gallery, with the in­au­gu­ral Bangkok Art Bi­en­nale (BAB) set­ting world-class art­works in the city’s tem­ples, malls, mu­se­ums and her­itage build­ings. We sent Bangkok-based pho­tog­ra­pher Leigh Grif­fiths to cap­ture some of the strik­ing in­stal­la­tions, from pieces that take on taboo top­ics of re­li­gion, sex and death to play­ful sculp­tures in­spired by cul­tural tra­di­tions.

1. In his se­ries Na­tional Road

No. 5 at the Bangkok Art and Cul­tural Cen­tre (BACC), Cam­bo­dian pho­tog­ra­pher Lim Sokchan­lina doc­u­ments the tran­si­tion­ing ar­chi­tec­tural land­scape of the main road con­nect­ing Ph­nom Penh to the Thai bor­der as it ex­pands into a busy trade route.

2. A paint­ing by Bri­tish artist An­drew Stahl hangs in the river­side East Asi­atic Com­pany Build­ing, the cen­tury-old struc­ture that was re­opened es­pe­cially for the BAB. In the fore­ground, me­chan­i­cal an­gels, made by In­done­sian artist Heri Dono, dan­gle from the ceil­ing.

3. Per­fectly fram­ing The Penin­sula Ho­tel on the other side of the Chao Phraya River,

Zero by Elm­green & Dragset was cre­ated specif­i­cally for this site out­side the East Asi­atic Com­pany Build­ing. The eight-me­ter-high sculp­ture de­picts the Berlin-based duo's fa­vored swim­ming pool mo­tif.

4. An­other robotic set from Yo­gyakarta-based Heri Dono, Ge­netic Ma­nip­u­la­tion gath­ers a pack of half-hu­man, half­dragon ma­chines at the BACC. View­ers can push a but­ton to start the fans on the ro­bots' un­der­sides, an en­gag­ing act that in­tends to play­fully com­ment on global cen­sor­ship and reg­i­mented poli­cies.

5. South Korean artist Choi Jeong Hwa's Bas­ket Tower de­scends across five lev­els in the BACC atrium. In­spired by ev­ery­day ob­jects, Hwa selected an ar­ray of col­or­ful plas­tic bas­kets from the city's Chi­na­town market. He aims to gen­er­ate hap­pi­ness with his kalei­do­scopic tower, fit­ting the BAB's theme, Be­yond Bliss.

6. The iconic work of

Ja­panese sculp­tor Yayoi Kusama con­tin­ues to draw crowds for self­ies with her fa­mous pump­kins. This three­d­i­men­sional, glit­ter­ing tiled piece, I Carry On Liv­ing with the Pump­kins (Sil­ver), is in Paragon shop­ping mall.

7. Across the river in Wat Pray­oon, Thai artist Nino Sarabu­tra has tiled the tem­ple's floor with 125,000 tiny porce­lain skulls. What Will You Leave Be­hind? in­vites vis­tors to walk bare­foot along the deathly path, en­cour­ag­ing us to con­tem­plate life and hu­man ex­is­tence.

8. The East Asi­atic Com­pany Build­ing's art­works are prime sub­jects for pho­tog­ra­phers, in­clud­ing sil­ver room Dilu­vium by Korean artist Lee Bul, the taxi­der­mic river an­i­mals in 2562++ by Pati­pat Chai­witesh, and this mini me­trop­o­lis,

City Flow, by An­drew Stahl.

9. Peek­ing out from the BACC frontage is an enig­matic por­trait from Ger­man pho­tog­ra­pher Ralf Tooten's Asian Work­ers Cov­ered se­ries. Tooten shot la­bor­ers across South­east Asia, who cover up from the sun as they work.

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