In The Scale of Justice (2016), Kawita Vatanajyankur becomes a traditional ‘beam scale’, balancing hanging baskets from her arms and feet. Against the jewel-coloured backdrop of sapphire pink, the baskets fill up and overflow with luscious green vegetables while we watch as her balance and composure are increasingly tested, her corporeal and psychological limits measured.
The Scale of Justice is a part of Kawita Vatanajyankur’s Mechanized series, in which the artist is a tool, a moving part in a machine. She transforms herself into food production equipment in performance videos that restage processes such as boxing eggs and weighing leafy greens. Like her previously celebrated works, The Scale of Justice is graphic and glorious, sharing the same eye-catching allure that enamours us to ads. The confronting nature of her endurance performances, however, interrupts this seductive surface.The repetitive and arduous tasks that Vatanajyankur performs parody a pervasive slippage between human and machine, and foreground the forgotten body within a technologically accelerating world.
Beyond this literal translation, these gestures also make visible the invisible mechanisms that govern women’s everyday labour in her birthplace of Thailand. In both contexts, pairing seduction and confrontation proves a powerful device in Vatanajyankur’s hands—a Trojan horse for tackling entrenched attitudes toward gender, equality and work. Vatanajyankur has exhibited widely across Australia, Asia, America and Europe including the Asia Triennale of Perming Arts; Melbourne, Asian Art Biennale; Taiwan, Bangkok Art Biennale and Saatchi Gallery, London.
A Horsham Regional Art Gallery digital exhibition touring with NETS Victoria. Curated by Olivia Poloni.
Kawita Vatanajyankur The Scale of Justice 2016
Kawita Vatanajyankur The Scale of Justice, 2016, video (detail), 2 min 32 sec. Courtesy the artist. © the artis