All Under Heaven: Ariana Chaivaranon plays with the metaphors that uphold totalitarian rule. The series of paintings explores the symbolic equation between “sky” and “emperor” and deconstructs the false divinity ascribed to autocrats in the region. In Chinese and Thai, the word “sky” doubles as a reference to the all-powerful ruler. The Chinese phrase “天下 (all under heaven)” historically referred to the expansive world ruled by the divine emperor. Today, the concept is weaponized to justify China’s neo-colonial expansion into Southeast Asia.
All Under Heaven—in conjunction with Underground by Mit Jai Inn at Gallery VER curated by Ariana Chaivaranon—is a paired solo exhibition reflecting on the positionality of “under.”
The exhibitions emerging from this collaboration unfold from spaces “under”: places of inferiority, growth potential, surveillance, secrecy, hierarchy, rhizomatic networks, obedience, and fomenting revolution. Underground and All Under Heaven take up two complimentary angles on vision—the panopticon and the oculus—to illuminate how limitations on what is visible can both impede and catalyze our movement toward alternative political futures. Chaivaranon’s circular paintings are oculi that offer circumscribed windows onto censored pasts. A monochrome blue—both the color of the sky and the background color of Chinese official ID photos—replaces images of national leaders, unifying fragments of history through its conspicuous emptiness. In this way, the series literally and symbolically depicts the emptiness of the sky itself, hanging over all of us.
information provided by event organizer