Past Route explores the history and development path of hemp fiber, while Present Path explores the current situation of cannabis on its journey to legalization. Hemp culture involves the history of immigration and migration, which are interwoven with each other. Through research and exchange, the project observes Bangkok, Chiang Rai, and Chiang Mai in an attempt to find the connotations and background of the gray areas between past and present, tradition and contemporary, and law and emotion, as to understand the development of hemp and cannabis. We learn about the tradition of hemp fiber from the process of growing hemp and weaving it by the Hmong.
The fieldwork data of hemp includes: analyzing the products, materials, and weaving techniques of different eras, comparing the differences between different ethnic groups, and contrasting the living conditions reflected by the weaving tools and techniques of the Hmong and Karen people. The fieldwork data of cannabis includes: historical and current observations, and visits to cannabis farms and Khao San Road, Bangkok (a gathering place for the cannabis industry), and Highland 420 Festival. Through fieldwork, we consider how political power and authority operate, promote technological innovation, and sustain production and business, from farming to market, academic research to consumer entertainment. All of these enable a continuous dialogue between tradition and modernity, and increase public awareness, discernment, and understanding of the hemp and cannabis plants.
Kang Ya-Chu is a multidisciplinary artist working with mixed media. Following her interests in fibers and textiles, she delves into fieldworks and document analysis, hoping to identify the remarkable aspects of her own cultural upbringing. As an artist with a wide range of practices, she has worked on sculpture, site-specific installation, textile, painting, and audio art. She has three publications looking into the tradition and history of textile and its application in contemporary art. For more information about Kang’s works and writings, visit https://yachukang.com