International art exhibition celebrates Ramayana heritage across Asia
October 30, 2019: The Ramayana epic, well-known throughout Asia, is the root of diverse forms of cultural expressions in different countries that reflect both distinctive and shared heritage beauty. Realizing this shared cultural significance, the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, Thammasat University, the Department of Cultural Promotion of Thailand’s Ministry of Culture, and UNESCO, with the support of the skincare brand, Sulwhasoo, have initiated an international contemporary art exhibition titled “The Many Faces of Ramayana”.
The exhibition was opened by Mrs. Pimravee Wattanawarangkul, Advisor to the Department of Cultural Promotion, Thailand’s Ministry of Culture. It was attended by artists from across Asia, national artist-laureates, embassies of participating countries and executives from cultural organizations in attendance. The exhibition runs from 30 October to 5 December at the Exhibition Room of the Thailand Cultural Centre in Bangkok.
"The Many Faces of Ramayana” exhibition captures intangible artistic expressions – from poetry, settings, music, chants, dance, rituals, festivals, craftsmanship and philosophy – reflected and interpreted personally and freely by local artists across national and continental boundaries. This year, artists from nine countries participated in the exhibition, from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, to the Philippines, India, Nepal, France and Canada.
The exhibition was curated by Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts (FATU), Thammasat University. Dr Anucha Thirakanont, the dean of FATU, explained, “This scheme was born from the aspiration to bring people from different cultures to admire intangible cultural heritage and creativity together. For the organizers, ‘The Many Faces’ connotes multiculturalism and acceptance of diverse worldviews in today’s global society.”
“One of the missions of the Ministry of Culture, once Thailand ratified the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, is to promote and safeguard intangible cultural heritage (ICH). The ICH includes performing arts, craftsmanship, oral traditions, knowledge of nature, festivals, rituals and social practices of all communities, regardless whether the communities are in Thailand or in other countries,” said Mrs. Pimravee. “Thailand is proud to be a part helping to transmit the value of Ramayana and related artistic and creative expressions as shared heritage that reflects identities of people from different cultures.”
“The appreciation of diversity of cultural expressions through art does not only empower individuals, but also helps the society progress toward a global community that is inclusive and sustainable,” said Shigeru Aoyagi, Director of UNESCO Bangkok. “The diversity of artworks curated for this exhibition could initiate exchanges to learn, to understand and to appreciate one another. This is the key to the culture of peace.”
Harudee Vorapongpisut, Brand General Manager for Sulwhasoo, AmorePacific Thailand, congratulated the artists and organizers. “Sulwhasoo believes that every person has the true beauty that is uniquely presented in their own way. This is same to art,” Ms Harudee said. “Every art piece has meaning, dimension and a point of view that is individualistic. The freedom to express art and ideas is therefore crucial to a meaningful life. I am very pleased to know that the Ministry of Culture and UNESCO both see the importance of this and have provided this platform for creative expression for the artists.”
After UNESCO inscribed Khon to the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2018, the Department of Cultural Promotion, as the responsible entity for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in Thailand, launched several activities and projects to promote Khon in 2019. These efforts have included commemorating individuals and organizations that have roles in transmitting Khon and awareness-raising in many forms, including seminars, exhibitions, publications and animation movies. The Department has also established a digital database and performed festivals for Khon in Bangkok and other regions of Thailand.