Mit Jai Inn, a prominent figure in Thai contemporary art, took center stage with his 2023 exhibition, Dreamday at Chiang Mai’s MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum. The showcase, curated by Kittima Chareeprasit and Melanie Pocock, presented an immersive journey through vibrant sculptures he first showcased at Dreamworld, an exhibit held at the Ikon Gallery in the United Kingdom in 2021.
In these exhibits, Mit Jai Inn showcases pieces that allude to specific political movements and artworks that are free to take home. Jai Inn strives to ensure that he democratizes art, transcends socio-economic barriers, and challenges political symbols that often limit people’s access to cultural experiences, reflecting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of Reduced Inequalities.
The Dreamworld exhibition has two main sections. The first unfolded in the primary exhibition space, where the artist's colourful and unrefined creations adorned the walls, immersing viewers in a world of dreamy colours and elastic surfaces. Here, the artist delved into their process of meditation, and self-care, aiming to cleanse viewers of repressed stages and painful wounds through pieces like Dream Tunnel.
The intention was made clear in the wall texts—to provide an escape and solace in a world marked by chaos and distortion, something to give them hope as they go on with their daily routines and jobs, especially for his Thai audience who are facing a morbid and distorted justice system.
The second section, titled Bangkok Apartment, 2565, featured 74 miniature-sized art pieces crafted from waste materials. What sets these apart from conventional artworks is their purpose—they were designed to be given away for free, with the only requirement being that photograph proofs should be provided. Mit Jai Inn, drawing inspiration from the use of sema leaves in Buddhism to mark religious ceremonies, wanted his art to be accessible to as many people as possible.
The symbolism embedded in Inn's generous use of colours goes beyond mere aesthetics. While pastel hues connect to his northern Thai cultural roots and ethnic diversity, other pieces in the exhibition like the Junta Monochromes series also carry profound political undertones. The series subtly navigates Thailand's political history and climate, challenging viewers to reconsider the symbolic meanings of these colours, particularly in the context of political movements like the yellow and red shirts.
The Junta Monochromes series was made in 2016, amidst a politically charged atmosphere in Thailand, marked by a new king endorsing mob justice against those accused of violating the lèse-majesté law (Criminal Code 112). This period saw heightened polarization, with opposing factions adopting monochromatic symbolism and associating individuals with either red or yellow shirts. Hence The Junta Monochromes series, characterized by oversized, heavily impastoed, and vividly coloured works, served as a counterpoint to the binary divisions in the nation. One use of how the artist's exploration of "colours” becomes a nuanced commentary on the political landscape, moving beyond immediate associations to address broader societal issues.
Inn is not just an artist but also an activist, bringing a rich history of socially engaged art projects to the forefront. This is seen in how he is involved in initiatives like the Chiang Mai Social Installation, a festival series in public spaces. He also founded Cartel Artspace, a non-profit gallery addressing Thailand's political climate, further exemplifying his commitment to using art as a tool for social change.
In conclusion, Mit Jai Inn's Dreamworld exhibition transcends the conventional boundaries of art, offering a colourful odyssey that invites viewers to dream of a more equal and just society—a dream embodied in the vibrant colours of his creations.