wander process


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Thoughts from the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre

I’ve had to spend a lot of quality time in government offices across 3 different provinces lately. A LOT of quality time. One such office is in Bangkok, which meant that I usually went to Bangkok over the weekend to enjoy all of the pleasures of city life and friendship, and went to government offices first thing in the morning on Monday before heading back to Buriram Province later on in the day.

As most people are wont to do, I find myself operating within the comfortable patterns of things I know I love to in Bangkok and did frequently when I lived there. This usually means eating at the same restaurants (we found legit Mexican food in Southeast Asia and couldn’t contain our joy!), frequenting the same shops, ambling about the same markets.

With time to kill one weekend, I decided to hit up somewhere I had always wanted to go but hadn’t before: the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. I cannot hide my love for art museums and have frequented quite a few in my time at Brown and while studying abroad. The BACC is the premier exhibition space for contemporary art in Thailand. Located downtown (right at the National Stadium BTS stop and right across the street from MBK), the BACC is like a little Guggenheim copycat (right down to the spiral layout) right in the heart of Bangkok. Admission is free and exhibits change regularly.

I lucked out when I went because two of the three current exhibits were right up my alley. One, entitled The Upside Down Work of Phillippe Ramette was chock full of wonderful surrealist photography carried out by a sculptor. (Fun fact: the photo below by Phillippe Ramette was also the first thing I posted on my tumblr!)

The second exhibit was entitled You Are Not Alone and featured artists from many nationalities¬† showcasing work that promotes greater understanding of issues surrounding HIV/AIDS (the exhibit was curated by ArtAIDS, a transnational organization). I felt like I was back on IHP, and I found the exhibit interesting and definitely worthwhile of a visit if you’re in Bangkok now. Some of the exhibits called to me more than others and I found two particularly effective.

Walking into the exhibit, you are confronted with this piece, by Elmgreen and Dragset:

The first thing you see when you walk into You Are Not Alone, I thought that this piece was all at once excellent and terrible, but only terrible because it’s true. It was a stark reminder of the reality of today’s screwed up pharmaceutical industry and the subject of a lot of my intellectual pursuits during college. This artwork more or less encapsulated why I spent a good part of my sophomore year of college thinking about becoming an intellectual property lawyer.

Further into the exhibit is a room of photos taken by famous South African photographer, David  Goldblatt. During the darker days of my final year at college, I would often find myself curled up on my old stomping grounds on the fourth floor of the Rock, with a big photo book in my lap and another huge pile of books at my side. Photography was one of the only things that could truly, really soothe me and was a way for me to momentarily escape. One such photographer I poured over the work of was David Goldblatt. I admired his striking, honest portrayal of life in South Africa. It was a treat to be able to see his work displayed in Bangkok.

Goldblatt’s work displayed at the BACC depicted the ubiquity of the red ribbon as a sign of HIV/AIDS as a “stale advertisement for an unwanted product.”

Here are a few more snaps from the BACC:

A secret message is built into the colors of these flags.

A view from the BACC

For more information about the exhibit, you can read this article from the Bangkok Post. The Phillippe Ramette exhibit is on display until April 29 and You Are Not Alone is on display until May 20. The exhibits are well worth a few weekend hours.