When the dust settles

When the dust settles

When Sakarin Krue-On, artist and lecturer at the Faculty of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Arts, Silpakorn University, was asked to create an artwork for the 2021 exhibition “Art For Air” at Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Center, he was struck with the idea of using snow globes.

“Snow globes are souvenirs or gifts that people give to others during the festive seasons or after travel to different places. They are reminders of important occasions and they are a romantic gift. When the organisation asked me, as a person who has lived in Chiang Mai for years, to create art pieces for ‘Art For Air’, I wanted to create snow globes,” Sakarin explained.

Sakarin created six snow globes each featuring miniature models of important cultural attractions in Chiang Mai: Wat Jed Yot, Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chedi Thong, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Wat Chedi Luang Varavihara and Doi Luang Chiang Dao. In addition to miniature models, the snow globes contain liquid and dust collected from air purifiers in Chiang Mai.

The tiny models’ uncanny resemblance to landmark cultural attractions owes to their being produced with 3D printing technology allowing for elaborate detail. Sakarin likewise added glyceride to the liquid to help the “snow” drop slowly to the bottom of the globes.

The exhibition, titled “Let’s Make A Romantic Scene”, has returned to Bangkok for display at VS 24 Gallery, and its title evinces even more irony in winter when air pollution is worse.

“The exhibition… is a satire because ‘a romantic scene’ refers to air pollution or PM2.5 particles including dust and ash,” said Sakarin. “I came up with the title because when we visit tourist attractions in the winter and see fog covering cultural structures or national parks, that moment looks romantic and becomes an impressive memory. When visitors see snow globes, they want to shake them. After the snow globes are shaken, dust spreads and covers the miniature structures and the globes become hazy and cloudy.

“Many people do not realise that they play a part in creating air pollution. Some people even participate in anti-air pollution events, but they ride motorcycles or drive cars. A tiny part of everyone causes PM2.5 pollution. At the exhibition, there is a camera which enlarges the images inside the snow globes on a screen, so visitors can clearly see how important temples and parks are covered with dust.”

Born in Mae Hong Son, Sakarin studied in Chiang Mai for many years before moving to Bangkok for further study towards a bachelor’s degree. Sakarin said that when he was young, there was air pollution, but the condition was not severe like now.

“When I was young, Chiang Mai was not crowded. There were fewer personal vehicles and [other] transport. At that time, when I travelled from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, I could feel that Chiang Mai’s air quality was a lot better than Bangkok’s. I recently returned to Chiang Mai and found the city had become more crowded with more vehicles. Chiang Mai is surrounded by mountains and its physical feature is a basin, so air pollution is kept inside,” he said.

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