Skowmon Hastanan, "Les Femmes en Route", from "Encyclopedia Britanica World Atlas" series, 2000, artists’ book w/ ink jet prints, graphite, acrylic, & metallic.

Skowmon Hastanan, “Les Femmes en Route”, from “Encyclopedia Britanica World Atlas” series, 2000, artists’ book w/ ink jet prints, graphite, acrylic, & metallic.

Skowmon Hastanan

Les femmes en Route are represented by ink jet figures taken from Thai postage stamps. Each figure is placed inside a metaphorical icon, either a faceted teardrop diamond, which represents a precious commodity, or an orchid, which represents an exotic and foreign origin. This series of work is a mapping of the global trafficking and its networks. I chose two Pacific-centered world maps to draw the routes. One map is a drawing of the travel routes radiating from the trafficking-source countries (Continent of Asia) at the center, to the surrounding receiving countries (Continents of Europe, Americas, and Australia). The second map is a decorated drawing of the migration web, with distances of mileage designated, between countries. I also found a 1960 Encyclopedia Britannica World Atlas in a used bookstore. Its dedication page has a “utopian” mission statement calling for universal understanding. Inside are collages of the women travelers traveling over pages of population, birth, and death rate statistics, time zones, oceans, and trade and transportation terminal maps. The migration theme involves narratives ranging from local to global perspectives. It includes personal and international politics. I searched the Internet for current news, critical studies and essays posted on Websites concerning trafficking and migration and used it for artwork content. Individual circumstances transform into the collective experiences. They are expressed in statistics and numbers to demonstrate the magnitude of this topic. The most engaging, and disturbing are writings about trafficking of women for labor and the sex industry.

Skowmon Hastanan, selected by Nina Kuo, was born in Thailand, raised in Bangkok and moved to NYC in 1973. She is a mixed media artist recently completed a NYC Percent for Art Commission, and was selected as a finalist for the New York City MTA’s Arts for Transit projects. Hastanan has participated in exhibitions in NYC at Jamaica Center for Arts, The Bronx Museum of Art, The New Museum, and at Real Art Ways in Hartford, CT. A member of Godzilla: Asian American Arts Network, she co-curated exhibitions Urban Encounters (the New Museum, NY, 1998), and Why Asia? (Art in General, NY, 2001). She has collaborated with EMPOWER Foundation, Thailand, a center for the protection of the rights of women in the entertainment sector. Her artwork reflects her interest in her native Thailand, in the proliferation of western pop culture, and a rising sex trade since the Vietnam War.

“Third world and feminist perspectives are present in Skowmon Hastanan’s witty, but disturbing, Red Fever. Conflating the diagrammatic plans of slave ships with contemporary passenger jets, Hastanan highlights the spread of the virus through the tourist sex trade” – Virginia MacKenny, South Africa, January 2000

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