01 April 2023

PTSD


PTSD
PTSD

PTSD, a new exhibition at Cartel Artspace in Bangkok, features paintings and a video installation by Petchnin Sukjan and an anonymous artist who is currently facing a lèse-majesté charge. The exhibition is bookended by Break Your Silence, crowdfunded performances by the Unidentified Theatre group.

PTSD, in this context, stands for “Parliament / Treacherous / Sedition / Dictators”, and the exhibition is an artistic response to state violence and authoritarian politics. The paintings include images of yellow rubber ducks (symbols of the recent anti-government protest movement), which also featured in Jirapatt Aungsumalee’s exhibition Dark. In one painting with a potential symbolic meaning, a blue figure sits in a comfortable chair while another man languishes under his foot.

The five-minute video installation begins with footage of King Rama X being interviewed while on a walkabout in 2020. Journalist Jonathan Miller’s question about the protesters is audible, though the answer—“We love them all the same”—is heavily distorted. Co-curator Tanatorn Kongseng’s artist’s statement could be interpreted as a reply to that comment: “Don’t say you love us if you are still against us”.

PTSD PTSD

The video footage is pixellated, as were images of King Rama IX in Neti Wichiansaen’s documentary Democracy after Death (ประชาธิปไตยหลังความตาย) and Natthapol Kitwarasai’s short film Coup d’état. It ends with a caption, “THE LAND OF COMPROMISE”, accompanied by the sound of a rubber bullet being fired by riot police. Again, this refers to a comment during the royal walkabout. A music video by Elevenfinger, ไอเหี้ย... ฆาตกร (‘damned... killer’), features a similarly ironic “LAND OF COMPROMISE” caption; the music video and the PTSD video installation both also include footage of violent police suppression of protesters.

PTSD opened on 25th March and closes on 10th April. The first Break Your Silence durational performance took place on 30th March, and another will be held on 8th April.