Art The Body As A Tool Of Capitalism
Artperformancevideo art

The Body As A Tool Of Capitalism

Performance artist Kawita Vatanajyankur highlights the criticality of capitalism through her body
Giorgia Massari

Appropriating the typical language of the media, glossy and super-coloured, Thai performance artist Kawita Vatanajyankur creates works that highlight the critical nature of capitalism. A globalised economy that stands on its feet thanks to human exploitation and the inequalities that burden minorities in particular. But not only that, Vatanajyankur tackles political issues that highlight ecological problems and gender issues through disturbing shots, always concealed by the pop aesthetics to which we are accustomed. Industrialisation and mechanisation, as well as artificial intelligence, are also examined by Kawita, who reflects on the transformation of the contemporary body, on the one hand burdened by inhuman working conditions and on the other atrophied and replaced by the machine. Here it is precisely the body that becomes the artist’s main tool, which she uses to interpret the different degrees of violence that today’s society imposes in favour of uncontrolled consumerism. In particular, it is the female gender that is analysed as the main body abused in both the working and domestic environment.

In her works, Vatanajyankur transforms herself into household objects such as vacuum cleaners and toilet brushes, but also into agricultural tools such as scythes and spades. With her latest project, The Machine Ghost in the Human Shell (2024), the artist goes even further, exploring the interaction between humans and artificial intelligence. Connected to electronic muscle stimulators controlled by an advanced AI model, Vatanajyankur allows herself to be transformed into a sort of puppet, controlled not by the human mind but by an artificial intelligence.

One of his best-known works, Shuttle (2018), part of the Performing Textiles series, sees the artist take on the role of a shuttle in a loom, embodying both the physical exertion and monotony of textile work. In this performance, Vatanajyankur uses bright, vivid colours that contrast with the harsh reality of the work she represents, creating a powerful visual effect that captures attention and invites reflection.

Kawita Vatanajyankur, Shuttle (foto), 2018, video HD, 3 min 27 sec. Courtesy l’artista e Nova Contemporary, Bangkok

Through her art, Kawita Vatanajyankur forces us to confront the ethical implications of our consumption habits. But not only that, the artist does not stop at analysing the present but also looks to the future by exploring the limits of the human body and mind increasingly tamed by technology. The reflection extends to the effects of technological progress that increasingly alter our identity and autonomy. Everything is made strong and impactful thanks to the colourful aesthetics that immediately attracts attention, while creating a strong contrast between beauty and social criticism.

Courtesy the artist and Nova Contemporary, Bangkok

Artperformancevideo art
Written by Giorgia Massari
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