An ambitious showcase by Manit Sriwanichpoom, one of Thailand’s leading photographers, the new show entitled Fear consists of ten new series and two video works, being shown concurrently in three galleries in Bangkok (as well as the Yavuz Gallery in Singapore).
Daily life in Thailand continues to unfold amidst protracted political problems. Military intervention has removed two governments in a decade, and major recurring streets protests have brought to the fore critical questions of a malfunctioning democracy with corporate interest and corruption affecting the electoral process. While this contemporary context is not entirely unprecedented, in the history of Thailand’s fraught process of nation-building the current moment is distinguished by a creeping sense that, indeed, there is little light ahead.
Manit’s artwork metaphorically addresses the darkening future of Manit’s home country. The works were produced between Thailand’s last election in 2011 and the recent solar eclipse of March 9, 2016, with the 2014 staged coup d’etat by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) as an obvious centerpoint. The iconography includes cool but weighty references to the three pillars of Thai identity—nation, religion and monarchy—and the depiction of crowds and queues. The artworks quietly suggest that in the current climate, all manner of signs and gestures become profoundly politicized across the continuums of a fractured society. What once may have been celebrated or even treated with indifference has now become ominous as the people of Thailand continue to grapple with questions of their country’s future. Where indeed is the nation is headed?
Fear runs from July 23-September 10 at the Kathmandu Photo Gallery, the H Gallery, and the Tang Contemporary, Bangkok. Viewing hours vary according to gallery.