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Canal Projects Reflects on Death and Transformation in 'PRAY'

A new immersive exhibition by Korakrit Arunanondchai and Alex Gvojic.

PRAY is a new exhibition at Canal Projects which meditates on the concept of death, decomposition and transformation. Created by Thai artist and filmmaker Korakrit Arunanondchai, in collaboration with Alex Gvojic and co-written by Diane Severin Nguyen, the show centers around a series of films dubbed Songs for Living and Songs for Dying.

In Songs for Living, set at the gallery’s main floor, an ethereal environment gives way to a projector that beams into a puddle of water. A robotic hand periodically disrupts the course of the puddle throughout the film, which is complemented by a soundtrack by Lightning Bolt drummer, Brian Chippendale. Each video was largely shot in Lower Manhattan last year and presents a range of narrators — from ghosts, a king, a shaman, animals, family members and deities, who give voice to dead spirits and past regimes, as they continuously transform into one another. Visitors are encouraged to lounge in the space through a set of Thai-inspired denim cushions that are layed out around the installation.

In the basement level, Songs for Dying is composed of three separate acts — each reflecting on death, not as a finality to life, but rather on the possibility that there is a migration of the soul. Thematically inspired by the loss of his grandfather, Arunanondchai investigates the notion of the self entering the unknown, by juxtaposing archival footage of the 1948 South Korean Jeju Massacre with the most recent anti-government protests in Thailand.

The exhibition is on view at Canal Projects until December 17.

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