Vatanajyankur’s exploration of everyday and domestic work is particularly telling of her Thai homeland. A place where, for many, daily chores aren’t always assisted by electronic contraptions or white goods but are time-consuming, physically exhausting, and often the task of women. The videos’ happy, day-glow colours, dark humour and undercurrents of violence, however, bring a universality and contemporary currency to the historical trajectory of feminist art. It is telling, for instance, that she describes her performances as “meditation postures”, when such gruelling tests of resilience and fear are quite the opposite of what we might think of now as zen. But, for Vatanajyankur, extreme physical endurance offers a way to free herself from her mind: a mechanism to lose her sense of being. This deliberate objectification, she says, turns her body into sculpture.
Her powerful series intersect the long histories of ritual, craft and performance with the relatively new medium of video, as a way to redress how women’s work has been considered a lesser form of creativity, than the ‘fine arts’ not long ago epitomized by literally man-made representations of the female body. Uniquely, Vatanajyankur’s work is accessible and visually appealing: substantial in its conceptual rigour, and, at the same time, entertaining. Its lasting effect resonates deeply by asking probing questions; what are the limitations of our bodies, the continuing challenges of mundane labour, and the ongoing tasks for feminism in a globalized and digitally networked world?