Dirty, disregarded, and tattooed with black ink, Bangkok’s battered phone booths tell stories of life in a hard-boiled metropolis. In these broken figures, award-winning photographer Frank Hallam Day discovers meaning. Held at H Gallery as part of Photo Bangkok, the triennial festival featuring works from local and foreign artists at galleries across the city, his series of multivalent photographs dubbed Call Waiting examines the particulars of Bangkok itself.
Day’s muse doubles as a lens through which to view the city’s conflicted sense of modernity, its creative breadth, and its politics. For example, many of the markings in the booths are graffiti tags, and yet others are messages left by street protestors during the Thailand’s recent political meltdowns. These intimate images also expose the demands that govern our urban existence: job adverts, signs of commercial pleasure, party promos, and fliers offering opportunities for social advancement.
The idea of a world in flux — of stunted development —figures large in the photographs. Despite having all but vanished from other major cities, here phone booths abound, often derelict and vandalized, but sometimes newly installed. Outside their narrow confines, life goes on, a piebald community of street beggars and tourists, sex workers and food vendors, politicos and students, visible through cloudy glass.
Call Waiting is on view from August 6 to September 27 at H Gallery Bangkok.
H Gallery Bangkok
201 Soi 12 Sathorn Rd | 08 1310 4428 | 10am-6pm, Tue by appointment | hgallerybkk.com | BTS Surasak