Māhākād Epic Arts in the Market
To mark the 2010 centenary of Chiang Mai’s Warorot market, known locally as Kad Luang, an internationally recognised Thai artist Navin Rawanchaikul who himself grew up in his family’s fabric store within this market, has initiated a community-based arts festival namely the “Mahākād”. Directed by his team at Navin Production Studio, and in collaboration with various community groups, the project will be held at the market and within the neighborhood. Reflected in its multi-cultural title that references the ancient Indian epic, Mahābhārata, this festival aims to promote awareness of the local identities and their unique cultures. A vehicle to launch a dynamic ‘epic’ collaborative experimental communication platform recognising the potential of community engagement, integrating contemporary arts, traditional artisans and creative awareness into the markets diverse social multi-cultural community.
Incorporating newly conceived artworks by Navin Production Studio in cooperation with guest artists, the festival will provide the first occasion for the public to experience the site-specific exhibition in the central forum of the main market building. An associated exhibition is to be housed in the Luang Anusarnsunthorn Residence, an historic building in the area, which also functions as the festival information center. The multifaceted presentation also includes a documentary video with oral histories and personal images that evoke a kaleidoscope of memories of Kad Luang market community, as well as a related photo exhibition by respected philanthropist Luang Anusarnsunthorn (1867-1934) and senior biographical photographer Boonserm Satrabhaya whose prolific body of work and collections of old photographs has faithfully preserved and documented Chiang Mai’s past.
As a reflection on the current face of the market community, housed at the market building and several other locations award winning contemporary photographer, Dow Wasiksiri noted for his humorous snapshot cityscapes is invited to create visual dialogues linking the past to the present. Housed at the well preserved Chiang Mai Philatelic Museum, which jointly celebrates its 100th year anniversary, a well known Lanna painter Pornchai Jaima presents a large mural depicting the Kad Luang community in the past, which is exhibited in dialogue with performance artist Chakkrit Chimnok whose work reflects today’s life along the Ping River. The most essential element, representing the local youth and our future, the Festival includes workshops with Chiang Mai University's Faculty of Architecture and Kamthieng elementary school students. In collaboration with Compass magazine, a respected in style publication, a special bilingual issue is published for Māhākād Festival and made freely available to the public.
The opening events were held during the Christmas weekend of 25-26 December, 2010. Accompanying activities included a tour of the project sites to experience firsthand market life. The events culminated in a symposium with a distinguished panel discussion about community engagement in contemporary art practices.