Alumni Spotlight: Korakrit Arunanondchai '12
The Alumni Spotlight is a place to hear from the School of the Arts alumni community about their journeys as artists and creators.
Korakrit Arunanondchai '12 (b. 1986, Thailand) lives and works in New York & Bangkok. The artist’s multi-layered practice – which includes film-making, painting, installation and performance – reflects on technology and spirituality, the accumulation of data, the fragility of memory and the interfaces between world history and personal experience, and the Anthropocene. Paintings in Arunanondchai’s universe never go alone: they are autonomous objects, but they belong in relation – physical and spiritual – to everything else. Arunanondchai’s solo exhibitions include MoMA PS1, NY; Secession, Vienna; Palais de Tokyo, Paris, UCCA, Beijing and Museu Serralves, Portugal. His work has been included at Venice Biennale, Whitney Biennale, Dhaka Art Summit and will be included in the 2021 Gwangju Biennale.
Was there a specific faculty member or peer who especially inspired you while at the School of the Arts? If so, who and how?
It’s hard for me to highlight one faculty member since they were all so important to me. I felt I had a really close relationship with many of them, even after graduating. In my second year of graduate school I had Fia Backstörm for the critical issues class and it was so formative to my thinking about my practice.
How did attending the School of the Arts impact your work and career as an artist?
I think attending the School of the Arts started off my career. It gave me a visa to stay in the USA first of all and put me with a few connecting dots that led me later on to start my art career. In my undergraduate education, I learned to envision what a life as a fine artist would be and at the Columbia MFA program, I was able to explore and build my practice. So much of what I do now in my work, 10 years after starting at Columbia, completely grew out of what I was doing and what I learnt there.
What were the most pressing social/political issues on the minds of the students when you were here?
I went to Columbia from 2010-2012, during the same time Occupy Wallstreet was happening, so the conversation really centered around the idea of the exploitation and devastation that is the effect of neoliberal systems and politics. It was the center around many of the conversations we were having around our work. Prentice, the building the MFA program is in is also on 125 street across from the upward expansion of Columbia University, so there were a lot of conversations around gentrification, displacement and eminent domain as well. It was quite a political program. It took me a while to catch up at first but it was so important to be in a program that is critical of all these issues.
What was your favorite or most memorable class while at the School of the Arts?
Group Critique. Nothing like it outside an MFA program.
What were the first steps you took after graduating?
I went to a residency called Skowhegan. Right after, I got a job working for another artist and got a small studio to make work. After around 6 months, I showed work in an art fair in Miami and then had an offer for a solo show in a gallery In Brooklyn. I’ve been a full-time artist since then.
What advice would you give to recent graduates?
Find a way to be happy with what you're doing while still being in dialogues with the peers that you respect. Try to see a way you can continue your practice onwards ideally forever without that mindset.