Tracing environmental histories and futures in Southeast Asian artists’ moving image

  • Lovatt, P. (Keynote/Plenary speaker)
  • Som Supaparinya (Keynote/Plenary speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


Philippa Lovatt and Som Supaparinya
Tracing environmental histories and futures in Southeast Asian artists’ moving image

This joint keynote will discuss recent examples of artists’ moving image from Southeast Asia that engage with environmental concerns before focusing in on the video work of Chiang Mai based multi-media artist Som Supaparinya. Discussing the expressive potential of duration, abstraction, and location sound recording, the talk will consider how artists’ moving image can reveal an attunement to the phenomenology of place while providing insights into the layered environmental histories of particular locations. Som’s practice involves extensive research, which she has carried out across the region in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia where she has investigated recent experiences of infrastructural development, and in particular, the construction of hydroelectricity dams. In this talk, Som will discuss her multi-channel video and sound installations, My Grandpa’s Route Has Been Forever Blocked (2012), When Need Moves the Earth (2014), and A Separation of Sand and Islands (2018) that address how dams impact upon local ways of life that are intimately connected to the environment and how the land and riverscapes affected have been dramatically and irrevocably altered by human activity. Som will also discuss her most recent work Two Sides of the Moon (2021) which is a two-channel video installation that focuses on the Mun river (Mun meaning ‘valuable gift from the ancestors’ in local dialect), which was given the name ‘Moon River’ by the American troops who were stationed there during the Cold War. For this work, Som traces this history and records the perspectives of local fishermen who live alongside the river, focusing attention on the urgent question of how the changes of the river have impacted upon their lives.
Period25 Mar 2022
Held atUNIVERSITY OF DURHAM, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • artists' moving image
  • environmental histories
  • Southeast Asia