549 kg (poster), 2021
Offset print, IKEA frame
94.5 x 63.5 cm
Edition limited to 15 copies
This poster work was created to be part of the group exhibition “Manipulate the World – Connecting Öyvind Fahlström” at Moderna Museet in Stockholm in 2017 and specifically to be part of the museum's new acquisitions. The stack of 549 kilos of posters was presented as a special concrete form of Pratchaya Phinthong's acclaimed project ‘Give more than you take (2010)’
Migrant workers from Thailand gave Pratchaya a unique insight into the working conditions for berry pickers in northern Sweden. Several of them returned home deep in debt due to the expensive airline tickets and lodgings. In the summer of 2010 Pratchaya spent two months in Swedish Lapland, where he was hired as a seasonal wild berry picker, sharing the living and working conditions of other labourers brought in from Thailand. At the end of his time in Lapland, the employer paid him in cash from a safe. Phinthong’s fellow workers who stayed on for another month were swindled out of their pay: the employer abandoned the site beforehand, leaving behind an unlocked, empty safe.
In 2010, the first exhibited time for this project, at the end of each day’s labour, Pratchaya would send a text message to a curator who had invited him for this project, indicating how many kilos of berries he had picked that day and asking him to accumulate the same weight in various objects. The result of this project is a sculpture that changes according to the formal choices made by the curator responsible for each exhibition, who has to decide which materials to use, as well as their arrangement in the space.
Since then, this project has been exhibited in various forms through different curator’s interpretations within diverse institutions. For the exhibition at the Moderna Museet in 2017 in response to the total number of 549 kilos of berries he picked in two months, the posters were printed in a quantity that would correspond to the weight of the berries he had picked, and is presented to visitors as a free-copy.
The posters were made up of pictures of the empty safe which Pratchaya had received from a fellow worker and seventy-six other safes. For the artist, the collection of these similar safes were seen as a container for this incident and his intention to bind this incident to the audiences’ own home. The image of the safe and the weight of the berries were imprinted together on the poster, portraying the structure of things which are undetachable and at same time unable to unite.
Part of the text are credited to gb agency and Moderna Museet