Unearthing vintage photos from the long forgotten past always arouses interest from historians and anyone with a penchant for tradition and heritage. The art exhibition Unseen Siam, Early Photography 1860 – 1910, currently on display till November 7th at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC), in the 9th floor main gallery, has corralled together a number of rare photographs which have never been on public display before.
The exhibition, which has been curated by Mom Rajawongse Narisa Chakrabongse, and Paisarn Piammettawat (with co-curation by Pichaya Suphavanij), features more than 150 photos of old Siam, from the very first beginning until the end of the reign of King Chulalongkorn, the fifth monarch of Thailand. The original negatives of these photographs have been kept in their respective country’s archives. They were taken by foreign photographers, and Thais who were later appointed Siamese court photographers. These archaic images bring various historical aspects to light. The subjects range from portrait photography of King Mongkut of Siam, King Chulalongkorn, other nobles and even some commoners, to various cityscapes and country landscapes.
In addition to the museum display, these vintage photos are also available in book form, in a beautiful commemorative volume written by Joachim K Bautze and published by River Books. This 364-page volume contains over 700 images, and will be available for sale— both Thai and English versions—at the BACC for the duration of the show (priced at B1,800) .