07 May 2023

Election Through Poster

Election Through Poster Wasin Pathomyok

Thailand will hold a general election on 14th May, and advanced voting took place today. (More than a million voters have signed a petition calling for the resignation of the Election Commission, following various administrative errors.) The election looks set to be a de facto referendum on the royalist military establishment, with coup leader Prayut Chan-o-cha’s United Thai Nation party facing challenges from the progressive Move Forward and the populist Pheu Thai.

To encourage people to vote and make their voice count, iLaw and Bangkok Through Poster organised the Election Through Poster exhibition at the Kinjai Contemporary gallery in Bangkok. The exhibition featured pro-democracy posters by artists such as Uninspired by Current Events alongside submissions from design students. One of the highlights was a poster by Wasin Pathomyok, which summarises the last fifteen years of Thai politics in a single comic strip.

Two weeks before the 2019 election, the Thai Raksa Chart party was dissolved by the Constitutional Court, following its nomination of Princess Ubolratana as a candidate for prime minister. No such bombshells have occurred in the run-up to this year’s election (at least not yet), though the military sent an ominous signal on 4th May with a Facebook video of an army band playing หนักแผ่นดิน. This hateful propaganda song denounces anyone not pledging loyalty to the nation, religion, and monarchy as traitorous ‘scum of the earth’, and the army also played it before the 2019 election.

Election Through Poster opened on 23rd April and closed at the end of the month. Graphic design has always played a key role in Thailand’s pro-democracy movement, from the United Artists’ Front of Thailand (แนวร่วมศิลปินแห่งประเทศไทย) billboards in 1975 to the ‘vote no’ campaign posters from the constitutional referendums of 2007 and 2016.

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