The Lifted Brow issue 23 (July/August 2014) is “The Ego Issue.” It contains an essay from me about senior Thai artist Kamin Lertchaiprasert‘s 31st Century Museum of Contemporary Spirit, a large interactive and participatory project which the artist and his team describe as a “sculpture” and which is currently located in Chiang Mai. The essay can be downloaded online here.

The editors of The Lifted Brow explain that “The Ego Issue” was conceived “as a direct response to the ubiquity of the ego in writing and the world,” and that as such “all contributors were banned from using subjective, objective and possessive first-person pronouns, both singular and plural.” Contributors were asked “to probe and engross issues concerning the self, identity, ego, arrogance, and related matters.”

My essay cites Lertchaiprasert’s 31st Century Museum as an example of contemporary practice that privileges the subjective and that invites and even requires a subjective critical response. I contend that:

“As depressing as digitally-enabled self-obsession can be, surely there’s something just as empty and sad about turning away from the present, not daring to imagine the future. The subjective response—which is best expressed in first-person prose—remains (despite all the tedium of vanity) a valuable and indeed necessary component of contemporary art criticism. This is especially so when criticism seeks to address amorphous, participatory projects that refuse objectivity and celebrate the uniqueness of each individual’s experience.”

Kamin Lertchaiprasert, 31st Century Museum of Contemporary Spirit, 2008-ongoing. Photograph from opening day in Chiang Mai, 2009, taken from www.31century.org

Kamin Lertchaiprasert, 31st Century Museum of Contemporary Spirit, 2008-ongoing. Photograph by Amnad Charoenprasopsuk from opening day in Chiang Mai, 2011, taken from http://www.31century.org


Readers in Australia should buy a copy of this local, independent publication, for which I contribute a regular column on Southeast Asian contemporary art. Readers in Southeast Asia can view a PDF of the essay online here.