01 December 2022

The Will to Remember

The Will to Remember The Will to Remember

Charinthorn Rachurutchata’s photographic series The Will to Remember features press photos of the 6th October 1976 massacre of Thammasat University students, and images of the student protest movement that began in 2020. Each of the photographs in the series has been torn and restored using the Japanese kintsugi method, whereby gold lacquer is used as a bonding agent.

Rather than producing conventional seamless repairs, kintsugi highlights the seams as a fundamental aspect of the repaired object. Discussion of the Thammasat massacre was suppressed for decades, and Charinthorn’s kintsugi seams symbolise resilience to such suppression. The act of tearing the prints mirrors the violence of the massacre, in which the victims’ bodies were desecrated.

The Will to Remember The Will to Remember
The Will to Remember The Will to Remember

Alongside the black-and-white images from 1976 are colour photos of recent student protests. The juxtaposition of different generations of students—those killed at Thammasat, and those currently campaigning for democracy—reveals the cyclical nature of Thai political history. The series also includes a portrait of King Rama IX, and his image is blurred to suggest the opacity of his role in Thai politics.

The Will to Remember was part of this year’s touring World Press Photo exhibition. Several of the photographs are included in the World Press Photo 2022 yearbook (pp. 184–185).

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