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I like the idea of denim being used in fashion as something that people wear to say they are individual, whereas in fact everyone looks the same. There’s something democratic about it as a material.

Korakrit Arunanondchai
Korakrit Arunanondchai, Untitled (history painting), 2013
Korakrit Arunanondchai, Untitled (history painting), 2013. Denim and inkjet print on canvas, 86 x 64 inches (218.44 x 162.56 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Gift of Tanya Traykovsky and Carlo Bronzini.

Throughout his work, Korakrit Arunanondchai uses his Thai heritage as a launch pad to explore self-representation, identity, ritual, tourism and cultural hybridity. His multidisciplinary practice is heavily collaborative and performance based, positioning the body as one of the main vessels through which he communicates.

Materiality also plays a large role in Arunanondchai’s practice. This is manifested in his ongoing use of denim, a fabric representative of global production, Western fashion and youth culture. He became interested in denim in 2012, when he noticed denim growing in popularity throughout Thailand.

To create his Untitled (history painting) series, Arunanondchai bleached scraps of denim and set them on fire. The flames were then photographed, printed and placed behind the burnt areas of the fabric, giving the illusion of a continuous, live burn.

As documentation of the flames, the photographs function to capture a moment in the denim’s history. They also serve to mend the very holes caused by the fire. As images of the works have been reproduced and circulated throughout the Internet, the artist has been cognizant of their confusing nature.

In the gallery below, several works from the collection pair well with Korakrit Arunanondchai’s work.

Learn more about the contemporary collection.


You can see that when these paintings get re-photographed as documentation sometimes, it’s confusing whether the painting is on fire at the moment or not. This confusion is akin to the sometimes-muddled nature of memory itself, especially when memory is of light and gas and heat.

Korakrit Arunanondchai
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