16:9 single-channel, sound, color,
80:08 minutes


Ratchadamnoen Contemporary Art Center, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre

Whether Art is Life or Not is based on the original short documentary Whether it is Art or Not (2016, 35:00 mins). The film projects the alienated lives of contemporary art makers through the eyes of Amsterdam-based Thai artist Chavalit Soemprungsuk, who has been living in so-called perpetual, in-between worlds for the past 60 years. The film digs deep into Soemprungsuk’s personal life-long dilemmas; being amidst two cultures, his dedication to art and the struggles of daily life within the norms of society, the choice between fame and solitude, and the boundaries of timeless imagination versus physical decay.

The story, even though told from another generation’s point-of-view, one can still find Soemprungsuk’s life story a relevant illustration of today’s existential struggle of creative individuals. By putting together some series of random conversations made with the senior artist during 2014-2019, along with interviews with fellow artists, curators, collectors, and those who know him in person, Whether Art is Life or Not aims to take viewers on a personal journey of unraveling one's life through art and the making of art itself.

Directed by Belle Phromchanya and Jakkarin Thepvong
Edited by Sittiwat Thipthanaora
Film Production Supported by the National Film and Media Fund, Thailand Ministry of Culture

Whether Art is Life or Not screenshots

Premiered on 17 November 2019, Chavalit Soemprungsuk 80+ Art Festival at Ratchadamnoen Contemporary Art Center (RCAC)