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THE LAY OF THE LAND: AN EXPERIMENT IN ART AND COMMUNITY IN THAILAND

IT’S ALREADY EVENING when I arrive by car at the Land, an artists’ community in northern Thailand initiated by Kamin Lertchaiprasert and Rirkrit Tiravanija in 1998. Dusk is falling, and the fire that keeps the water buffalo warm at night will soon be lit. The buffalo themselves are already on their way to a familiar spot next to a small pond; slowly and majestically they approach across the vast rice fields. Behind them, in the distance, are the mountains that surround these agricultural flatlands. This is the village of Sanpatong, some twenty minutes outside the northern provincial capital, Chiang Mai, a rapidly growing city of some two hundred thousand people. Hot rain is falling from the skies—in fact, it’s pouring—and we find shelter in one of the pavilions huddled around the pond. I entered this structure once before, in its previous life as a work of art in a European institution.

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