2018, synchronized 2 – channel video, HD, 16:9, 19 min, color, stereo, Thai and Laos language with English and Korean subtitle, dimension vary with each installation.

Year of Production: 2018
Place of Production: Chiang Rai Province [Thailand],  Si Phan Don, Champasak Province[Laos] and Sopheakmit Waterfall, Preah Vihear Province [Cambodia]

The work premieres at the 12th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea on the Thu 6 September 2018 to Sun 11 November 2018


A Separation of Sand and Islands was inspired by Thai environmental activists who won their protest against China’s economic expansion through a trade route on the Mekong between northern Thailand and Laos in December 2017. The video was shot a few months before that. It exposes the nature of the area, which has rocks and islets. There are numerous small to large-scale international trades along the route. While farmers and fishermen survive by simple tools. Rare birds live peacefully on the islets. These will change if the activists couldn’t stop the rocks and islets demolished.

In comparison, the work continues to travel on the river to the southern part of Laos, where is also a border with northern Cambodia. It reexamines and traces the history since the end of the 19th century when the French Colonial surveyed and built transport infrastructure on the Mekong River and Khone Islands. Parallel to the contemporary issues of many hydroelectric dams constantly add on to the river made it hard for fish to travel and survive, so the same to native fishermen.

text from Gwangju Biennale Catalog

” Sutthirat Supaparinya is a multidisciplinary artist whose works encompass video, sculpture, photography, and installation. Her early works questioned the human perception of media and the influence of technology on society but later moved towards a project that investigates the ecosystem affected by the destruction of the natural environment due to industrialization and government control. In parallel to work inside her home country, she has conducted extensive research in Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar. She is currently working on the issues of borders expansion in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS).

Supaparinya’s interest in the ecosystem was sparked by the riverine trade route of the teakwood business in the North of Thailand.  She takes her research of the Mekong area a step further in her new work, A Separation of Sand and Islands.  For this, she was inspired by the Chiang Rai environmental activists who won their protest against China’s economic expansion through a trade route on the Mekong. The artist ponders whether a country can expand its borders driven by economics and raises questions about the balance of economy, ecology, and politics in border expansion in relation to forced migration. Supaparinya reexamines the history and the contemporary issues related to river exploration and takes another look at two rocky obstacles along the Mekong river. The first is China’s shipping expansion plan, which involves blasting islets and reefs on the Mekong (2015-2025) between Northern Thailand and Laos and is part of its plans to invent a new Silk Route to Europe through Singapore. The second is Khone Islands (aka Si Phan Don or Four Thousand Islands) in Southern Laos, whose cascades prevented the river from being navigable by ship to China, a situation the French attempted to circumnavigate by building a bridge and a railway, giving rise to the French colonization of Indochina.

In her two-channel video installation, Supaparinya follows the French explorers in the 19th century by using  ‘A Pictorial Journey on the Mekong: Cambodia, Laos and Yunnan’, by Louis Delaporte and Francis Garnier as a reference. Supaparinya traveled to Champasak to film on location and imagined how the exploration and colonization took shape in the past. She swiftly juxtaposes that with today’s context, a new form of colonization resulting from China’s economic expansion over Southeast Asia, reminding us to consider the current border conflicts and their influence over the third countries, as well as the destruction of the eco-system.”

Gridthiya Gaweewong, a curator of 12th Gwangju Biennale

เครดิต/ Credits

Direct – Camera – Edit – Color: Sutthirat Supaparinya
Associate Producer: Gridthiya Gaweewong
Sound and Still Recording in Thailand: Siwat Maksuwan
Sound recording in Laos and Cambodia: Thanathorn Passornvichan
Sound Design: Chalermrat Kaweewattana
Sound Re-recording Mixer: Akritchalerm Kalayanamitr
Boatman in Thailand: Chatid Cheb-Lam
Boatman in Laos: Khek

กำกับ, ถ่าย, ตัดต่อภาพ, แก้สี: สุทธิรัตน์ ศุภปริญญา
ผู้ประสานการควบคุมการผลิต: กฤติยา กาวีวงศ์
บันทึกเสียงและภาพนิ่ง ในประเทศไทย: ศิวัช เมฆสุวรรณ์
บันทึกเสียง ในสปป.ลาวและเขมร: ธนาธร ภัสสรวิชาญ
ออกแบบเสียง: เฉลิมรัตน์ กวีวัฒนา
ผสมเสียง: อัคริศเฉลิม กัลยาณมิตร
เดินเรือในประเทศไทย: ชฐิล เฉียบแหลม
เดินเรือใน สปป.ลาว: แขก

Thanks to
Niwat Roykaew
Phairin Sohsai
Weerachat Kaewpradit
Sutphuphai Wangpooklang
Piyavit Thongsa-Ard
Oliva Vogel
Pathompong Manakitsomboon

นิวัติ ร้อยแก้ว
ไพรินทร์ เสาะสาย
วีรฉัตร แก้วประดิษฐ์
สุดภูไพร หวังภูกลาง
ปิยวิทย์ ทองสอาด
โอลิวา โวเกล
ปฐมพงศ์ มานะกิจสมบูรณ์

This work supported by MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum

“A Separation of Sand and Islands” has been shown in the following exhibitions and countries:

12th Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, South Korea [Fri 7 September – Sun 11 November 2018] Curated by Gridthiya Gaweewong
-Screening “A Separate Sand and Islands” under the exhibition “Under the Water” by Sao Sreymao, Sa Sa Art Projects, Phnom Penh, Cambodia [Fri 30 November 2018, 6.30 – 7.30 PM]

The Machine in NatureThe Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam [22 February – 28 April 2019] Curated by Quang Lâm (Inlen) and The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre