From 100 Tonson Foundation
100 Tonson Foundation is dedicated to fostering, facilitating, and disseminating contemporary art in Thailand and beyond.
Opened in 2003, 100 Tonson Gallery traversed regional and international boundaries to become a pioneering platform for advancing diverse contemporary art practices. Over 17-years, Tonson has ardently represented its artists in over a hundred exhibitions, international art fairs and museum displays. 100 Tonson has been the sole Southeast Asian gallery to exhibit at Art Basel in Switzerland (2011), and has also participated in Art Basel Hong Kong (2013-2015).
In 2020, Tonson founder Ek-Anong ‘Aey’ Phanachet took the decisive step to transform the gallery into the 100 Tonson Foundation with an altruistic mandate to support and promote Thai art. Building upon previous successes from a career in finance, Phanachet has long been a committed benefactor to the arts, allowing her to cement lasting bonds with prestigious international institutions. This includes a place on the International Council at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C.
The momentum towards a non-profit site started in 2015 when the gallery began inviting artists for challenging six-month project based exhibitions. Extended projects or residencies will continue as part of the foundation’s long-term focus, as will art that engages through participatory and/or interactive approaches. Beyond a physical exhibition space, the foundation also bolsters and nurtures Thai arts deeper infrastructure by giving generous grants to artists, curators, writers and researchers to fulfill independent projects and exhibitions.
Independently determined, the foundation has begun early collaborative support with international institutions, with significant upcoming projects launching from late 2020 on. One of the only foundations in Thailand devoted to advancing contemporary art, the 100 Tonson Foundation is broad-minded and unbiased in generating greater cultural exposure for the public at large. Whether supporting art publications, talks and workshops, exhibitions and cultural events, or specific artist productions, the Foundation partners with individuals, institutions, and public interest groups, to formulate crucial opportunities for arts continuing evolution.
There are very few narratives and voices to restate the precariousness of sentiments in minoritarian contexts that intersect with gender, religion, and nationality. Undifferentiated fears are part of living in freedom, to access facts and truths and freedom of expression are fundamental to our existence. The project Leave it and Break no Hearts investigates the notion of the minoritarian within religious agencies in Thailand. Phaptawan describes women’s issues related to Buddhist belief in regional Thailand, while Samak focuses on the issues of queer Muslims. Each of their works and trajectories explores their identities with the narratives of non-human forms in the context of Islam and Buddhism in Thailand. Being non-human implies a void or illegitimacy of human expression, a barrier for humans’ ability to voice, refuse, or deny. To “leave” and “break” suggests the action of a filter as we treat and sieve through objects to separate the good and bad, the useful and useless, the fertile and weeds.
The collaborative project, Leave it and Break no Hearts will be presented at the 100 Tonson Foundation, Bangkok during May-October 2022. The six-month long program will also present papers and workshops. Among other activities are gatherings of historic and ethnographic subjects of two distinct communities located near the Thai borders. By simply presenting their artwork, the two artists seek to make propositions to echo and make audible the non-human forms. Imposing the act of sifting out the non-human forms, serves to acknowledge their presence, rendering them visible either as a subject or object.
Phaptawan-Suwannakudt was born in Thailand, 1959, and graduated from Silpakorn University, Nakhon Phatom, with a degree in English and German. She later led a team of painters that worked in Buddhist temples throughout Thailand during the 1980s-1990s. She was also involved in the women artists’ group exhibition Tradisexion in 1995 and in Womanifesto. Phaptawan relocated to Australia in 1996 and completed an MVA at Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney University. She has exhibited extensively in Australia, Thailand and internationally including the18th Biennale of Sydney: All Our Relations (2012); Traces of Words: Art and Calligraphy from Asia, Museum of Anthropology, UBC, Vancouver, Canada (2017); the inaugural Bangkok Art Biennale, Thailand (2018); Asia TOPA, Art Centre Melbourne (2020); The National at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (2021); a collaborative project with Sue Pedley Line work: The River of the Basin scheduled at the Lewers’ House, Penrith Regional Gallery New South Wales (2021); and an installation work Sleeping Deep Beauty for ESOK in Jakarta Biennale 2021. Her works are in public collections including the Art Bank Sydney, the National Art Gallery of Thailand, Art Gallery of New South Wales, and the National Gallery of Singapore.
Samak Kosem is a PhD student in Social Sciences at Chiang Mai University and a research fellow at the Center for Women and Social Security at Walailak University. He investigates transnational sexuality frameworks that circulate and connect to sexual discourse, practice, and subjectivities on an individual migratory and religiosity. His project of ‘Nonhuman Ethnography’ (2017-ongoing) in Southern Thailand is considering how queerness is embodied in Muslim culture through the contexts of nonhuman relations. In 2021-2022, he is an Erasmus+ exchange fellow at the School of Humanities, Tallinn University, and teaches on ethnicity in Southeast Asia at the International Studies (ASEAN-China) Program, Thammasat University. His artworks are shown at galleries and museums in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Tokyo, and Manila. Samak’s writing has recently been published by the Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia (2020) and the Taiwan Journal of Southeast Asia Studies (2020).