Uthit Atimana

Artist/Deputy Head of Chiang Mai Art University
Born in 1960, lives in Chiang Mai. Adviser to “The Land Foundation”, led by Rirkrit Tirivanija and also an art coordinator of the open-air art project,“Social Installation”. His projects particularly focus upon linking art with community.

Uthit Atimana has continued to question the relation between art and society, and the social role of artists, directing the pioneering project “Social Installation” from the late 1980’s to early 1990’s in public spaces around Chiang Mai.

“Social Installation” is an event which permeates the fabric of the city, with performances and art works being presented in temples, in the streets and various other everyday spaces of the city. At the time of its inception the understanding of art in Thailand was largely limited to appreciation of objects in art museums, only to be accessed by higher classes of society. Therefore the experiments of Atimana through such projects such as “Social Installation” have had a strong impact upon the perception of art. Through such activities artists came together with local people, created works together, sung together, practiced yoga together etc. The question of whether this is art or not is not of importance to Atimana, it is rather the possibility to inspire interest of local people in their neighbourhoods and surroundings and to arouse self initiated action which is central to his work. This he believes is the role of art and such an idea has widely spread throughout Asia since the late 1980’s.

While following in the footsteps of large art festivals realized in America and Europe, Atimana’s projects do not replicate such events but earnestly pursue the reality of a place and its people, hoping this will lead to self initiated solutions to the problems faced by one’s locality. Atimana’s direction logically approaches the system and infrastructure of such projects and proposes a new relationship between art and society through a semi-art life style. There is a common practice for example of living upon a farm and then pursuing freely the other work which you want to do, which can be defined as “semi-farming semi-something else” therefore a semi-art lifestyle consists of combining both positions such as student, worker, housewife for example, with engagement art in everyday life which allows one to join in society and share ideas and perspectives. Atimana employs art projects, education, seminars, and discussion to bring shape to communities and uncover the possibilities of neighbourhoods all over the world.

(Notes from Atimana’s work book, the workings of his thoughts born through the interaction of many different disciplines can be seen themselves as drawings)