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10 years, 6 months ago
Filled under: Front Page, Visual arts
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Bangkok-based artist Nino Sarabutra covered the floor of Ardel Gallery in Bangkok with 100,000 miniature porcelain skulls and invites visitors to step on them.

“If today was your last on earth, what will you leave behind?” This is the morbidly sentimental question local female ceramicist Nino Sarabutra has been asking visitors to her website in the build-up to her latest show. Until March 3, their heartfelt responses will be projected on to the walls of Ardel’s Third Place along with their mugshots.

However, the real surprise is not on the gallery’s walls, but beneath them.  Sarabutra has covered every last inch of the floor with miniature porcelain skulls — around 120,000 of them, she tells ARTINFO. After leaving their shoes at the door, visitors gingerly walk across the carpet of macabre icons so as not to break them— an act Sarabutra hopes makes us confront the fragility of life and the inescapable specter of death.

This is not the first time Sarabutra has dabbled in thought-provoking participatory art. In 2011′s “To Live or to Live a Good Life” the Silpakorn University graduate asked people questions about how happy they are with their life. However, this is the first time she has involved people in actually making the work. Rather than attempting to create them all herself, Sarabutra gave molds to friends, families, neighbors and students, and asked them to think or talk about the show’s central question while making them.

Sarabutra, who gave up a career in advertising to become a full-time artist in 2006, says the project so far has inspired positivity, not dread. “Talking about death soon turned into a conversation about what they have done, what they want to do, and most of all how important it is to make the most of the time that we have.” She adds: “The important thing is not the answers to the question but the process of answering: it makes people think about their life, what they are doing, what they are achieving. Lots of people find it impossible to answer: that is an answer in itself.”

Like life, what will be left behind when the lights go out come March 3 is impossible to predict. “It all depends on what happens during the show,” says Sarabutra, “we’ll see.”

“What Will you Leave Behind?” runs until March 3 at Ardel’s Third Place, 137-137/1 Sukhumvit 63 (Thonglor Soi 10).

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