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พฤศจิกายน 2550
22 พฤศจิกายน 2550
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9 Days in The Kingdom.

There's a big photography exhibition called "9 days in the Kingdom" on in Bangkok at the moment. As the title suggests, the 55 photographers that were involved in the project were given 9 days to capture and document life in Thailand.

I've been looking forward to going to see it ever since I saw a copy of the exhibition's book in Suwannabhumi airport, and finally found the time to go yesterday afternoon. The exhibtion is definitely worth a visit. Some of the images are stunning, and the way that the photos are grouped into themes and arranged, is interesting too.

There were 2 sections that stood out. 'Spectrum' was the bit that I liked the most. There were around 14 photos that were full of colour (bits of silk, the bows of boats, rows of bananas etc...)

Before I went back to England, I tried to think of all the things that I'd miss, eg. friends, my neighbourhood, the stunning mountain and coastal scenery... and took (our dug out old) photos of them. But, when I was actually back home, it wasn't any of these things. The 2 things I missed the most when I was in Sheffield were probably people and colour. In England everything seemed so grey and lifeless.

It was the tail end of autum, usually seen as one of the most colourful times of year, but, I got home to find that most of the leaves had already fallen off the trees. The ground was wet and sludgy and a very muddy looking brown colour. It was cold, very, very cold too. Fashionwise grey seems to be this season's 'in' colour. Almost everyone was wrapped up in thick grey or black coats. They all looked so miserable. No one smiled. Everything seemed dull.

Here, in Bangkok, as the photos in the spectrum part of the exhibition showed... colour is everywhere. Sometimes it's obvious eg. brightly painted longtail boats on the river, spray painted buses, hilltribe women in traditional costumes flogging wooden frogs on Khao San.. but often, its much more subtle. painted shop houses, food on sale on the streets, hotch-potch clothing, the fact that the bus stop where I live, in fact whole cities turn yellow (or.. at the moment) pink on a Monday morning. Ever since I've been back, I can't help but stare at the colour of things...

I liked the 'Hall of Frames' part a lot too. The 'hall' is a narrow corridor towards the end of the exhibition, crammed full of photos, of all shapes and sizes. Some are of people, or of street life. Others of animals, scenery, temples. The photos seem to cover almost anything and everything Thai.

I spent ages in this area. There is so much to look at. Each picture has been carefully composed. Each tells its own unique story. And there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them. The photos are all framed, but other than that, they are arranged in the way that I usually put photos on my wall, pinning them up randomly and expecting the people looking at them to make the connections between them. In formal photography exhibitions photos are rarely displayed like this. Together, the walls of pictures form a huge assault on the senses. They mirror the way I see life here, as a crazy, chaotic mish mash of people, places and extremes that some how or other manage to co-exist. It's probably the most impressive part of the whole exhibition.

I couldn't help but spend a long time looking at the photos, thinking about where they were taken, and how. There were quite a few Thai people that passed through the room, as I stood there trying to take it all in. Most of the ones that walked past, barely glanced at the pictures on the wall. They didn't seem interested in them at all. I guess they see these kind of scenes everyday. The images themselves don't really interest them. The Thai guys and girls stopped to take photos of photos, talking with friends about which angle they should take them from, and who's turn it was to pose, in front of one of the walls. They got their mobile phones and digital cameras out, snapped away, then quickly moved on...

Sometimes, I think that some Thai people can't see the value of their own culture (not the historical culture of places like Sukothai or the classy high-so culture of Siam Paragon etc.. but the normal everyday street culture...) and of what they have here. I couldn't help but think this as I saw them walk by. If it's not a large print, or in a big frame it's not important... not worth a look.

I brought a copy of the book afterwards. I had to. It's equally impressive, though the narrative sections at the beginning of each chapter are pretty cliched and dull. It was also my first ever 'coffee table book', something I never had the money to buy in England... (though since I've only ever lived in 1 place with a coffee table, or wide living room shelves... it wouldn't have been much use before then... ) It will probably sell well abroad, as the beautiful images in it show many of the things (elephants, temples, kickboxers) that westerners see as being distinctly Thai.

It will make an ideal christmas present, or a good souvenier to anyone who's lived in or travelled around the country, and has good memories of the places, people and things that they saw. Almost all of the images in the book were in the hall of frames section too. Funny... that the parts of the book most likely to appeal to westerners, were the ones the Thai guys and girls, walking through the Hall of Frames chose to ignore.

If anyone's interested in going to see the exhibtion, there's some info about it here...

Create Date : 22 พฤศจิกายน 2550
Last Update : 23 พฤศจิกายน 2550 15:22:42 น. 3 comments
Counter : 244 Pageviews.

Oh what a shame...The last day is Dec 5th...Not in time for me to see. Thanks for the link. I would have loved to go. You mentioned 'Multiply' What's the name?

โดย: Ta (ta/'o-o/' ) วันที่: 24 พฤศจิกายน 2550 เวลา:4:35:04 น.  

Info about the exhibition is here...

My multiply stuff (mostly sh*te... as, much as I like taking piccies, I'm not that great at it) is here

A friend took some piccies of the exhibition. His pics are here...

If you want a copy of the book, ask someone in BKK to go to the exhibition and buy it for you. Its only 1500 there. It was almost double that in Suwannabhumi airport and is likely to be vvvvvv expensive back home

โดย: Kerrie IP: วันที่: 24 พฤศจิกายน 2550 เวลา:10:36:36 น.  

Thanks, Kerrie

Enjoyed all the pictures!

โดย: Ta (ta/'o-o/' ) วันที่: 26 พฤศจิกายน 2550 เวลา:0:56:11 น.  

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