Exhibition: The 14th Gwangju Biennale
Date: 04 April - 09 July, 2023
Venues Gwangju Biennale Exhibition Hall 
Host·Organizer Gwangju Biennale Foundation, Gwangju Metropolitan City

Title: The Spirit Level
Artist: Taiki Sakpisit
Two-channel Video Installation 
4K, Colors and Black & White, 16:9, Stereo, 21 minutes (loop), 2023
Commissioned by the 14th Gwangju Biennale.
Supported by Yanghyun Foundation and SAC Gallery

Music: Yasuhiro Morinaga
Coordinators: Ormbun Thipsuna 
Thaniya Chaikham
Post-Production: UltraViolet Post Production
Colorist: Chaitawat Thrisansri
Assistant Colorist: Natnicha Suwanprapa
UltraViolet Producer: Sathinee Chiraka

The 14th Gwangju Biennale
Sook-Kyung Lee, Artistic Director
Kerryn Greenberg, Associate Curator
Sooyoung Leam, Assistant Curator
Harry C. H. Choi, Assistant Curator
Curatorial Interns
Minjee Kim, Soomin Kang

“Taiki Sakpisit’s The Spirit Level hauntingly captures a psychic summoning a spirit to learn the truth about the deaths of Thai protestors who had been in exile since the 2014 coup d’état. In a frantic frame, the psychic appears to be paralyzed in the moment. Capturing the collective ethos, the section served as a reminder of everyday forms of resistance and touched deeply on the power and effects of human connections and encounters.” (ArtAsiaPacific ISSUE134 JUL/AUG 2023 by Pamela Wong)

The Spirit Level meditates on the trauma and violence in the troubled Thailand reflected through the artist’s road trips across the northeastern region of Thailand along the Mekong River.

The film begins with a downstream river that descends from Than Thong waterfall and flows into the Mekong River and explores the mythic underground cave that according to legend was a subterranean kingdom below the Mekong River where the divine Naga resides in the netherworld.

At the heart of The Spirit Level is a frantic sequence of a spirit medium in the midst of possession. This epileptic episode emulates the optic feedback eliciting the trancelike revenant images as the spirited entity registers the medium’s body. Gradually the hallucinatory double images are disrupted by a freeze frame. This suspension of time occurs to commemorate the dislocated spirits of the three anti-government activists whose mutilated bodies were found in Mekong River in December 2019. The three men had been in exile since the 2014 coup d'état, until they were kidnapped by an officially sanctioned death squad. Their bodies were found handcuffed, disemboweled and stuffed with concrete blocks, wrapped in brown rice sacks and dumped into the Mekong River. It is one of countless forced disappearances and assassinations of political dissidents by the state since the 1970s and still ongoing and unresolved.

The Spirit Level alludes to the undercurrents of darkness that ripple beneath the surface of problematic Thailand.