The Arts

Porntip Attakanwong: Highs and Lows of 2020

As the founder and curator of ATT19 contemporary art space on Charoenkrung, Porntip Attakanwong, or Mook, tells us how she got through last year, offering insight on how she’s preparing for 2021, as well as her hopes for this new year.

Wrap up 2020 for me. What were your highs and low?

Let’s start with the lows. My low was definitely having to postpone a lot of the shows and closing the gallery and the exhibition in March for almost five months when COVID started. I felt that the artists still didn't get the proper chance to really show their work and that really saddened me. My high, I guess, would be realising that with adversity we can overcome and still achieve many things beyond our imagination. I am lucky to have a great set of staff who are like family to me behind my back. 


What is the biggest lesson in 2020 that you are implementing in 2021?

There were many things that I didn’t think I would be able to do or didn’t think I would ever need to do like video editing and filming, which ended up being a lifesaver for my business last year. I trained myself, watching YouTube and using simple apps, and I learnt that with a flexible mindset and the readiness to try anything, you can move past any hardship or surprises thrown your way.

Tell me about your Ted Talk!

Oh, it was a dream! I’ve always secretly dreamt of doing a Ted Talk, but I never thought I would have the chance. It’s so surprising and humbling to be chosen for my work with the gallery. I never really viewed that what I do is making a huge difference. The team, and all the speakers and performers, really made me believe even more that within every ordinary human there is the ability to make great changes. It’s all within us. It was a great end to my year and a big push for the next.

What's your favourite form of self-care?

I would say exercise. I do a lot of barre. Also, given that it’s not a lockdown, I really like to spend my time catching up with my girlfriends. The [barre] class is the time I can focus on myself and my body and after, when we go for a coffee or breakfast, it’s a nice break.

How do you spend your $?

On young Thai artists and designers and, of course, one of a kind vintage clothes and accessories--I can’t resist those!

What would you like to see done next year by those in authority?

I would like to see them implement changes that affect and benefit the country as a whole and not just the privileged. We need to come to terms and be realistic about how the majority percentage of Thais are living.

What are your hopes for the Thai creative industry in the near or far future?

I hope that real talents get the recognition they deserve and that big companies start to support young and overlooked talents with a real focus on what they need, and not for the need of commercialisation and marketing. I truly believe that support when done wrong, can hurt the industry more than do good, and can lower the appreciation and understanding of the creative process as a whole.

Favourite art space besides ATT19?

Bangkok City City Gallery and Gallery Ver.

Best way to get over a creative block?

Go outside! I opt for a boat ride along the river. People watching is great for inspiration.

What was your biggest obsession of 2020?

I’ve always been obsessed, but NPR tiny desk concerts particularly got me through last year.