Books like Thai Art: Currencies of the Contemporary (MIT Press) don’t appear every day. In fact, they don’t even appear every decade. The last serious book-length study of contemporary Thai art came out in the 1990s, as Thailand was in the midst of an economic boom and blind to the calamitiesboth economic and politicalto come. The real merits of David Teh’s achievement, however, lie not in his volume’s rarity but in its language and approach. Written with the eloquence and verve of a seasoned critic, Thai Art offers attitudesall too infrequently found in the growing field of writing about contemporary Asian art: It narrates the development of the field while interrogating the very categories on which it is built; it questions, with specificity, the global and local flows of artistic production and reception; it examines the ways in which values move across cultures;
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