05 February 2024

Red Poetry
ยังมีจิตใจจะใฝ่ฝัน
(‘still having a mind that will dream’)


Red Poetry
Red Poetry

Supamok Silarak’s film Red Poetry (ความกวีสีแดง) will be shown in Phatthalung this weekend. The feature-length documentary is a profile of performance artist Vitthaya Klangnil, who co-founded the group Artn’t. A shorter version of the film—Red Poetry: Verse 1 (เราไป ไหน ได้)—was screened at Wildtype 2022.

The documentary shows the intense endurance and commitment Vitthaya invests in his protest art. A durational performance—sitting in front of Chiang Mai’s Tha Pae Gate for nine full days—led to his collapse from exhaustion. In another action, he climbed onto Chiang Mai University’s main entrance, repeatedly slapped himself in the face, and fell into a pond. When he reported to the police to answer charges of sedition, he vomited blue paint outside the police station.

The film ends with Vitthaya’s most extreme action: carving “112” into his chest, in protest at the lèse-majesté (article 112) charges he faced after he exhibited a modified version of the Thai flag in 2021. He was convicted of lèse-majesté last year, and received a suspended sentence.

Red Poetry will be shown at the Swiftlet Book Shop on 10th February, at an event titled Red Poetry ยังมีจิตใจจะใฝ่ฝัน (‘Red Poetry: still having a mind that will dream’). Swiftlet was also the venue for the inaugural Phatthalung Micro Cinema screening last month.)

Supamok’s film was screened three times as part of the 27th Short Film and Video Festival (เทศกาลภาพยนตร์สั้นครั้งที่ 27): in the online Short Film Marathon (หนังสั้นมาราธอน), at the main festival itself, and in the Short 27 Awarded Film Screening programme. It has previously been shown in Chiang Mai and Salaya.

04 February 2024

2475
นักเขียนผีแห่งสยาม
(‘1932: the ghost writer of Siam’)


2475 Graphic Novel Rama VII

In the years following the 2014 coup, the military government set about removing public reminders of the 1932 revolution, when Thailand transitioned from absolute monarchy to parliamentary democracy. In the catalogue for his exhibition The L/Royal Monument (นิ/ราษฎร์), Wittawat Tongkeaw describes the disappearance of “physical components—names, plaques, monuments” commemorating the revolution. Similarly, in his chapter in Rama X (edited by Pavin Chachavalpongpun), Chatri Prakitnonthakan discusses “the destruction of significant buildings and monuments related to the memory of the People’s Party”.

Most notoriously, a plaque in Bangkok’s Royal Plaza was covertly replaced in 2017 with a new plaque honouring the monarchy. Leaders of the recent student protest movement created a new plaque with a democratic inscription, and installed it at Sanam Luang on 20th September 2020, though it was removed by the authorities almost immediately. Reproductions of the new plaque have been shown at various exhibitions, including Wittawat’s 841.594, and it appears prominently in Chulayarnnon Siriphol’s film 100 Times Reproduction of Democracy (การผลิตซ้ำประชาธิปไตยให้กลายเป็นของแท้).

The new plaque is an indication of a political awakening among young Thais—known as ta sawang—and a renewed interest in the 1932 revolution specifically. One of the groups organising the recent protests is called Khana Ratsadon, in tribute to the political party of the same name that led the 1932 revolution. A new library of pro-democracy books is called 1932 People Space Library, its name referring to the year the revolution took place. Souvenir items from 1932 were displayed at the Revolutionary Things (ของ [คณะ] ราษฎร) exhibition in 2018. Charinthorn Rachuratchata’s exhibition Museum 2032 (พิพิธภัณฑ์ ๒๕๗๕) looked forward to the revolution’s centenary.

This revival of interest in the events of 1932 is a relatively recent phenomenon. In 2010, vox pop interviews for Abichon Rattanabhayon’s short film The Six Principles (สัญญาของผู้มาก่อนกาล) demonstrated the public’s apathy towards the revolution. But a few years later, in 2013, the change in attitudes was apparent when Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s documentary Paradoxocracy (ประชาธิป'ไทย) achieved unexpected box-office success. (Paradoxocracy features an extended discussion of the revolution, and begins by reproducing the text of a 1932 manifesto railing against King Prajadhipok.)

The 1932 revolution is central to the plot of a new book, 2475 นักเขียนผีแห่งสยาม (‘1932: the ghost writer of Siam’), by Tanis Werasakwong (known as Sa-ard) and Podcharakrit To-im. The book tells the full story of the revolution in the form of a graphic novel, featuring prominent politicians of the period—and even King Prajadhipok—among its main characters. The project’s website describes the revolution as “an event in Thai history that has been erased from collective memory”, a point also made in Prabda Yoon’s short film Transmissions of Unwanted Pasts (วงโคจรของความทรงจำ).

22 January 2024

Memes of Dissent:
Thai Social Media During the 2020–2021 Student Uprising


Memes of Dissent Memes of Dissent

An exhibition of satirical memes and online political cartoons opens this week at All Rise (the offices of iLaw) in Bangkok. Memes of Dissent: Thai Social Media During the 2020–2021 Student Uprising (โซเชียลเน็ตเวิร์คในท่ามกลางการประท้วงของนักศึกษาไทยระหว่างปี 2020–2021) features anti-government GIFs and other digital artwork shared via social media in support of the student protest movement that began in 2020.

The exhibition was previously held at Artcade in Phayao, where it was on show for almost two months (from 3rd August to 1st October 2023), though it will only be open for three days in Bangkok, from 26th to 28th January. Organised by the University of Phayao’s School of Architecture and Fine Art in association with the Museum of Popular History, the Bangkok exhibition will also include memes created after last year’s election (when the winning party was sidelined and the military remained in government).

Copies of คนกลมคนเหลี่ยม Live in Memes of Dissent (‘round people and square people live in memes of dissent’) will be given away at the exhibition. The booklet—limited to fifty copies—reprints a dozen cartoons from the คนกลมคนเหลี่ยม (‘round people and square people’) Facebook page, in solidarity with the cartoonist, who is facing lèse-majesté charges in relation to four cartoons he posted on the page in 2022.

นิทรรศการรำลึกการต่อสู้คนเสื้อแดง
(‘exhibition commemorating the red-shirts’ struggle’)



An exhibition documenting the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship protest movement opens today at Thammasat University. Organised by the students’ union, it will be held at the Thammasat Museum of Anthropology, on the university’s Rangsit campus in Pathum Thani.

นิทรรศการรำลึกการต่อสู้คนเสื้อแดง (‘exhibition commemorating the red-shirts’ struggle’) runs until 2nd February. It features t-shirts, magazines, newspapers, VCDs, banners, and other red-shirt media and ephemera.

A similar exhibition was mounted at Pheu Thai HQ on 23rd April 2010, organised to present the events of 10th April 2010 from a red-shirt perspective to an invited audience of western diplomats. At that event, VCDs with English subtitles were distributed, one of which—Truth 10th April: Who Is the Real Killer—was played for the visiting dignitaries.

14 January 2024

Pac-Man:
Birth of an Icon


Pac-Man

The Japanese arcade video game Pac-Man (パックマン), designed by Tōru Iwatani, was released by Namco in 1980, at the height of the so-called golden age of video arcades. In the 1970s, Atari’s Pong and Taito’s Space Invaders (スペースインベーダー) had defined video games in the public consciousness, though Pac-Man would supersede them both to become arguably the most iconic video game in history.

Pac-Man’s initial appeal came from Iwatani’s creation of what Steven Poole (in his book Trigger Happy) calls “[t]he first videogame ‘character’ of all”. In their book Pac-Man: Birth of an Icon, Arjan Terpstra and Tim Lapetino argue that the game’s distinctive mascot is now a ubiquitous cultural symbol: “Pac-Man’s appeal as a character transcended arcades and moved into the wider realm of popular culture.”

Pac-Man: Birth of an Icon, published in 2021, is the definitive history of Pac-Man, covering every aspect of the game’s development and release. It’s both a coffee-table book with beautifully-reproduced illustrations (including numerous documents from the Namco archive) and a meticulously researched, comprehensive account of the game’s history.

Pac-Man: Birth of an Icon

One indication of the book’s attention to detail is that its title also appears in Japanese (パックマン:アイコンの誕生). Appendices include a complete Pac-Man gameography and the first English translation of Iwatani’s Japanese-language memoir, Pacman’s Method (パックマンのゲーム学入門).

Retro Gamer magazine (no. 61) also covered the making of Pac-Man (which it called “gaming’s most iconic videogame character”), but Pac-Man: Birth of an Icon is the first book on the history of the entire Pac-Man phenomenon. Leonard Herman’s Phoenix was the first general history of video games, and Tristan Donovan’s Replay is the most comprehensive guide to the subject. Push > Start was the first visual history of the medium.

12 January 2024

Lust and Love


Lust and Love

Ark Saroj’s photobook Lust and Love was released yesterday. The book was inspired by New York photographer Peter Hujar’s monograph Love and Lust and, like Hujar, Ark photographs his friends and former lovers: “They are real people and with some of them I have shared intimate moments.” One of Lust and Love’s most explicit images—a black-and-white double-page spread—was shown at the KinkyBKK exhibition at Silom’s Pulse Gallery from 8th to 30th September last year.

An essay by artist Oat Montien in Lust and Love compares Ark and Hujar’s nude portraits: “both of their works subvert the lines between fine art and pornography... They give us the license to really meditate on their very graphic material on a deeper level beyond the immediate shock and taboo.” The same also applies to other photographers, such as Ohm Phanphiroj and Shotbyly, whose work demonstrates the increasing visibility of LGBT representation in contemporary Thai art.

04 January 2024

Pat Yingcharoen:
Collective Convalescence


Pat Yingcharoen: Collective Convalescence

Collective Convalescence is the first monograph on the young Thai artist Pat Yingcharoen, whose paintings combine tragic images of violence from art history and photojournalism. The elegantly designed book features an essay by Panu Boonpipattanapong and an interview with the artist by Korn Karava. (Korn also edited and published the book, which is the second volume in a series that began with No God No King Only Human.)

Like many artists of his generation, Pat experienced a political awakening following the 2014 coup. It was this newfound awareness, known in Thai as ta sawang, which first led him to transition from “conducting painting experiments to focusing more on the historical aspects.” (Novelists Uthis Haemamool and Veeraporn Nitiprapha have also discussed their ta sawang experiences, and it was a recurring theme in interviews with film directors for Thai Cinema Uncensored.)

In particular, Pat often incorporates elements from photographs of the 6th October 1976 massacre, which he regards as “among the most iconic depictions of Thai history”. In his essay, Panu explains that these images of hanged and desecrated bodies are juxtaposed and decontextualised, so that “new dimensions of history that may have been previously suppressed are discovered.”

Images of the 1976 massacre are depicted prominently in several of Pat’s works. In Sacred Punishment, one of the victims is transposed into a reproduction of William-Adolphe Bouguerau’s Flagellation of Our Lord Jesus Christ (La flagellation de Notre-Seigneur Jésus-Christ). In Beater, Neal Ulevich’s infamous image of a man holding a folding chair is superimposed over a detail from the same Bouguerau painting. In Martyrs, another victim is placed in the centre of Andrea del Sarto’s Disputation on the Trinity (Disputa sulla Trinità).

The artist’s other visual references to the massacre are more subtle. Onlookers from the background of Ulevich’s photograph appear in Under the Blue Moon (shown at his Blue Rhapsody exhibition at Number One Gallery last year) and From Jesus to the Void. The distinctive tree trunk from which a victim was hanged in Ulevich’s picture appears in the backgrounds of Imaginary Horizon—a reproduction of Bouguerau’s First Mourning (Premier deuil)—and Cain and Abel. (Another young Thai artist, Pachara Piyasongsoot, also painted the same tree trunk, in The Garden.)

Pat Yingcharoen: Collective Convalescence was published last month, in an edition of 300 (mine being no. 294). Each copy is numbered and signed with a flourish by the artist. (Curiously, he spells his first name Patt, while the book uses an alternative English spelling, Pat.)

29 December 2023

The Amazing Movie Posters of Thailand


Apocalypse Now

The Amazing Movie Posters of Thailand, by Neil Pettigrew and Philip Jablon, is—to borrow the adjective from its title—an amazing book. Featuring more than 500 posters, including many full-page reproductions, it’s the most extensive guide to Thai film posters ever published.

The Amazing Movie Posters of Thailand includes a brief history of Thai film poster production, paying particular tribute to Somboonsuk Niyomsiri (also known as Piak Poster), “[t]he father of Thailand’s style of hand painted movie posters”. The Thai poster for Apocalypse Now, painted by Tongdee Panumas, is singled out as “a contender for being the greatest film poster of all time. Not just from Thailand but from any country.”

The book also features the most comprehensive roster of Thai poster artist biographies ever compiled. The entry for Somboonsuk highlights his design for the French film Temptation (L’Île du bout du monde), which “revolutionised the look of Thai cinema posters in 1959 by using an offset printer which allowed for more richly colourful artwork.” (An exhibition of Somboonsuk’s work was held at the Thai Film Archive last year.)

The Amazing Movie Posters of Thailand / Thai Movie Posters / Bai Pid / Starpics

The Amazing Movie Posters of Thailand is published by the founder of the horror film magazine The Dark Side, thus it focuses heavily on horror and exploitation posters. The final few chapters are devoted to gory and erotic posters, including one for the Hong Kong film A Gambler’s Story (邪斗串), described as “perhaps the all-time most explicit movie poster ever produced in Thailand.” (These posters—displayed in seedier cinema lobbies, not on public view—were more graphic than the films they advertised, as discussed in Thai Cinema Uncensored.)

Co-authors Pettigrew and Jablon are both Thai poster collectors. (Jablon is also a dealer.) Pettigrew has previously written about Thai horror and sexploitation posters in The Dark Side (no. 167, 168, and 180). Jablon organised a poster exhibition at this year’s Singorama Film Festival, and wrote the excellent Thailand’s Movie Theatres.

Gilbert Brownstone’s Thai Movie Posters (Affiches de cinéma thaï/โปสเตอร์ภาพยนต์ไทย), published in 1974, was the first survey of Thai film posters. After almost fifty years, another book on the subject was long overdue, and The Amazing Movie Posters of Thailand was well worth the wait.

Starpics magazine released a special issue (no. 3) on the history of Thai film posters in 1997, which is also a great resource. There are catalogues to the Bai Pid (ใบปิด) and Thai Film Posters (ใบปิดหนังไทย) exhibitions, and other poster exhibitions include Eyegasm and Rare Thai Movie Posters (ลับแลโปสเตอร์ ภาพยนตร์ไทย). There is a short essay on Thai film posters in Thai Cinema (Le cinéma thaïlandais), and vintage posters are illustrated in Dome Sukwong’s A Century of Thai Cinema.

28 December 2023

Museum 2032


Museum 2032 Museum 2032

Charinthorn Rachuratchata’s exhibition Museum 2032 (พิพิธภัณฑ์ ๒๕๗๕) looks simultaneously into the future and the past, while commenting on the present. Charinthorn transports us forward ten years, as visitors to a 2032 exhibition commemorating 100 years of democracy in Thailand. (Absolute monarchy was replaced with parliamentary democracy in 1932.) Photographs of an unsuccessful royalist rebellion led by Prince Boworadet ninety years ago are juxtaposed with images of the student protest movement that began in 2020.

Though separated by time, the two events are connected by the active involvement of Thai citizens in fighting for democracy. In 1933, students and other young Thais supported the newly-formed democratic government in suppressing Boworadet’s rebellion. In 2020 and 2021, students campaigned for reform of the monarchy and an end to military rule. Displaying four black-and-white images of each event facing each other on opposite walls of the gallery, Charinthorn draws parallels between them and shows that the democratic struggle continues.

Museum 2032 Museum 2032
Museum 2032 Museum 2032

Each of the photographs 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 an integral aspect of the repaired object. When applied to the photographs in the exhibition, the technique emphasises that the events depicted are worthy of preservation, and also that Thai democracy remains imperfect.

Charinthorn’s previous photographic series, The Will to Remember, featured images of the recent student protest movement alongside photographs of the massacre of Thammasat University students in 1976. The prints were also repaired via kintsugi, though in The Will to Remember the kintsugi seams symbolised resilience against the erasure of the massacre from the collective memory.

Museum 2032 opened at VS Gallery in Bangkok on 21st October, and was originally scheduled to run until 30th December. It has now been extended until 7th January next year.

26 December 2023

The Art of Origami Books:
Origami, Kirigami, Labyrinth, Tunnel and Mini Books —
By Artists from Around the World


The Art of Origami Books / The Art of Cutting / The Art of Pop-Up

The Art of Origami Books: Origami, Kirigami, Labyrinth, Tunnel and Mini Books by Artists from Around the World, by Jean-Charles Trebbi, was originally published in French (as L’art du livre origami) in 2021. It includes numerous examples of origami books by contemporary artists, though the most interesting chapter, by Jacques Desse, gives a brief illustrated history of ‘leporello’ books. The chapter on ‘tunnel books’ also includes illustrations of vintage examples.

Trebbi’s previous books include The Art of Cutting (L’art de la découpe) and The Art of Pop-Up (L’art du pop-up). The Century of Artists’ Books, by Johanna Drucker, covers the related topic of books designed by artists, and John Smith’s Notes on the History of Origami is a concise history of origami as an art form.

Britain’s Best Ever Political Cartoons


Britain's Best Ever Political Cartoons
The Plum-pudding in Danger

Tim Benson, Britain’s leading authority on political cartoons, compiled an anthology of Britain’s Best Ever Political Cartoons in 2021. Almost 200 cartoons are included (mostly in black-and-white), from the satirical prints of James Gillray (such as The Plumb-pudding in Danger) to The Guardian’s Steve Bell. Benson’s introduction gives a concise history of British political cartoons, and he cites David Low as “[t]he greatest political cartoonist of the twentieth century”. The book concludes with a selection of recent cartoons, reproduced in colour.

Rude Britannia, The Offensive Art, and The History of Press Graphics 1819–1921 also feature examples of classic British political cartoons. The Rude Britannia exhibition catalogue includes one of Gerald Scarfe’s best Margaret Thatcher caricatures. (Thatcher is underrepresented in Britain’s Best Ever Political Cartoons, and Scarfe’s work is omitted.) Victor S. Navasky profiled key political cartoonists in The Art of Controversy.

15 December 2023

Tang Chang (1934–1990):
Non-Forms


Non-Forms

Tang Chang, one of Thailand’s greatest modern artists, is the subject of a retrospective that opened earlier this year at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Tang Chang (1934–1990): Non-Forms (subtitled Non-Formes in French) features his iconic self-portrait from 1973: the painting shows the artist with no eyes or hands, his symbolic self-mutilation a desperate response to the massacre of pro-democracy protesters that took place that year. The bilingual (English and French) exhibition catalogue (bound in the Japanese stab style) quotes his description of the work as a tribute to those “rising in anger against the military dictatorship on 14 October 1973.” Several of his concrete poems (กวีรูปธรรม), commenting on the massacres of 1973 and 6th October 1976, are also included.

09 December 2023

Rare Thai Movie Posters


Rare Thai Movie Posters Rare Thai Movie Posters

Today and tomorrow, vintage Thai film posters will be on display, and on sale, at the Woof Pack building in Bangkok. The Bai Pid (ใบปิด) exhibition—held at the same venue last year—featured reproductions of classic poster artwork, whereas this weekend’s fair, Rare Thai Movie Posters (ลับแลโปสเตอร์ ภาพยนตร์ไทย), focuses on original posters.

Rare Thai Movie Posters and Bai Pid are among only a handful of exhibitions devoted to Thai movie poster art. Others have included Thai Film Posters (ใบปิดหนังไทย; 1984) in Bangok, and Eyegasm (2012) in Palm Springs, California. Philip Jablon exhibited some posters from his collection at this year’s Singorama Film Festival in Songkhla.

Gilbert Brownstone’s Thai Movie Posters (Affiches de cinéma thaï/โปสเตอร์ภาพยนต์ไทย), published in 1974, was the first book on the subject. A new survey, The Amazing Movie Posters of Thailand by Jablon and Neil Pettigrew, was released earlier this year. Starpics magazine issued five special issues devoted to film posters; most focused on Hollywood posters, and no. 3 covered 100 years of Thai cinema.

02 December 2023

I’m Starving Artbook:
Sweets and Politics


I'm Starving Artbook

Comic artist Kwanrapee’s I’m Starving Artbook: Sweets and Politics (เดี๊ยนหิว!!! Artbook: ขนมหวานและการเมือง), published earlier this year, is a record of the stickers, fleurons, and illustrations she created between 2019 and 2022. This was a period of protest against Thailand’s military government, and the book’s title has a clever double meaning: “If this artbook accurately depicts my hunger, then I also hunger for freedom and democracy.” Kwanrapee’s stickers produced in support of the protesters include a royal portrait of a cartoon duck, similar to a controversial calendar whose distributor was jailed this year.

23 November 2023

Red Poetry


Red Poetry

Supamok Silarak’s film Red Poetry (ความกวีสีแดง) will be shown in Salaya this weekend. The feature-length documentary is a profile of performance artist Vitthaya Klangnil, who formed the group Artn’t with fellow student Yotsunthon Ruttapradit. A shorter version—Red Poetry: Verse 1 (เราไป ไหน ได้)—was screened last year at Wildtype 2022.

The documentary, filmed in 2021, shows the intense endurance and commitment Vitthaya invests in his protest art. A durational performance—sitting near Chiang Mai’s Tha Pae Gate for nine full days—led to his collapse from exhaustion. In another action, he climbed onto Chiang Mai University’s main entrance, repeatedly slapped himself in the face, and jumped into a pond. When he reported to the police to answer charges of sedition, he vomited blue paint outside the police station.

The film ends with Vitthaya carving “112” into his chest, in protest at the lèse-majesté (article 112) charges he faced after he exhibited a modified version of the Thai flag in 2021. He was convicted of lèse-majesté earlier this year, and received a suspended sentence.

Red Poetry will be shown at Die Kommune on 25th November, at a screening organised by Mahidol University’s Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies. It has previously been screened in Chiang Mai earlier this year, and it had an online screening as part of this year’s Short Film Marathon (หนังสั้นมาราธอน).

16 November 2023

Asian Political Cartoons


Asian Political Cartoons

John A. Lent’s Asian Political Cartoons is a remarkable and comprehensive book, covering the history of political cartoons in no fewer than twenty countries. As the publisher claims, with justification, it is “not only the first such survey in English, but the most complete and detailed in any language.” Lent has interviewed more than 200 cartoonists—most notably, Zunar in Malaysia—and made multiple research trips to each of the countries he documents.

Histories of political cartoons traditionally focus on revolutionary France, Georgian Britain, and the Reconstruction era in the United States. Lent’s book, on the other hand, is a window into a previously inaccessible world of satirical art. He shows how cartoonists have challenged authoritarian regimes throughout Asia, and assesses the varying degrees of “freedom to cartoon” in the region (such as the repressive treatment of Mana Neyestani in Iran and Arifur Rahman in Bangladesh).

For his chapter on Thailand, Lent interviewed Chai Rachawat and Arun Watcharasawad, veteran cartoonists who have covered Thai politics since the 1970s for Thai Rath (ไทยรัฐ) and Matichon (มติชน), respectively. He discussed the Thaksin Shinawatra era with Buncha and Kamin from Manager (ผู้จัดการรายวัน), and he describes the enforced ‘attitude adjustment’ of another Thai Rath cartoonist, Sia, under Prayut Chan-o-cha’s military rule. He also covers the rise of anonymous online satirists such as Khai Maew. (Sia wasn’t interviewed for the book, though he spoke to Dateline Bangkok last year.)

The scope of Asian Political Cartoons is unprecedented, though Cherian George’s Red Lines also examines political cartooning from an international perspective. Victor S. Navasky’s The Art of Controversy covers European and American political cartoons, and Alexander Roob reproduces early newspaper cartoons in The History of Press Graphics 1819–1921.

25 October 2023

รำลึก 19 ปี ตากใบ
(‘remembering 19 years of Tak Bai’)



Today marks the nineteenth anniversary of the tragedy that took place at Tak Bai on 25th October 2004. More than 1,000 people protested outside Tak Bai’s Provincial Police Station, and police responded with water cannon, tear gas, and live ammunition, killing five people. The surviving demonstrators were crammed into trucks and taken to Ingkhayuttha Borihan Fort military camp, though seventy-eight people died of suffocation during the five-hour journey.

The security forces have never been held accountable for the eighty-five deaths, and the government prohibited the broadcasting of video footage of the incident. In defiance of the ban, Same Sky (ฟ้าเดียวกัน) magazine distributed a Tak Bai VCD—ความจริงที่ตากใบ (‘the truth at Tak Bai’)—with its October–December 2004 issue (vol. 2, no. 4). The footage is also included in Thunska Pansittivorakul’s documentary This Area Is Under Quarantine (บริเวณนี้อยู่ภายใต้การกักกัน), leading to the film being banned. (Thai Cinema Uncensored discusses the censorship of Tak Bai videos.)


รำลึก 19 ปี ตากใบ (‘remembering 19 years of Tak Bai’), a two-month exhibition at Patani Artspace, opens today to commemorate the anniversary. Video and photographs are included, and this afternoon there will also be a rare opportunity to play Patani Colonial Territory. (The card game, which was banned last year, was designed as an educational tool to provoke discussion about the contested history of the Patani region.)

Tak Bai photographs were also shown at the Deep South (ลึกลงไป ใต้ชายแดน) exhibition last year in Bangkok. Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Photophobia series incorporates press photographs of the incident, as does the interactive installation Black Air by Pimpaka Towira, Akritchalerm Kalayanamitr, Koichi Shimizu, and Jakrawal Nilthamrong.

Jehabdulloh Jehsorhoh’s Violence in Tak Bai (ความรุนแรงที่ตากใบ) features white tombstones marking the graves of each victim, and his book The Patani Art of Struggle (سني ڤتاني چاراو او سها) shows three versions of the installation in situ. It was first installed, just a few days after the massacre, at Prince of Songkla University in Pattani, and the grave markers were accompanied by rifles wrapped in white cloth. In 2017, it was recreated at Patani Artspace and then mounted on a plinth containing Pattani soil at the Patani Semasa (ปาตานี ร่วมสมัย) exhibition.

Two other installations—Jakkhai Siributr’s 78 and Zakariya Amataya’s Report from a Partitioned Village (รายงานจากหมู่บ้านที่ถูกปิดล้อม)—both include lists of the Tak Bai victims’ names. Photophobia, 78, and Violence in Tak Bai were all included in the Patani Semasa exhibition in Chiang Mai. (The exhibition catalogue gives Violence in Tak Bai a milder alternative title, Remember at Tak Bai.)

12 October 2023

50 ปี 14 ตุลา
เจ้าฝันถึงโลกสีใด
(‘50 years of 14th Oct.: what colour world do you dream of?’)



This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the 14th October 1973 demonstration, when 500,000 people rallied at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument calling for a new constitution and an end to Thanom Kittikachorn’s dictatorial rule. The protest was successful, as Thanom was dismissed as prime minister and sent into exile—leading to a three-year period of democracy—though the military shot and killed seventy-seven protesters.

Commemorations of the massacre are surprisingly understated, despite the historic fiftieth anniversary. A commemorative exhibition earlier in the year contained no references to the incident. There is an exhibition of political billboards at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, albeit on a small scale. Most lamentably, there is an even smaller display of photocopied pages—from The Ten Days (วันมหาวิปโยค)— outside the 14 October 73 Memorial. The most substantial event is a series of film screenings at the Thai Film Archive in Salaya.


Another compact exhibition commemorating the anniversary opened today at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center. Organised by the publisher of Matichon (มติชน), 50 ปี 14 ตุลา เจ้าฝันถึงโลกสีใด (‘50 years of 14th Oct.: what colour world do you dream of?’) features a display of books, notably บันทึกลับจากทุ่งใหญ่ (‘secret notes on Thung Yai’), which exposed military corruption in the months before the protests. The exhibition also includes a monitor screening the documentary อนุทินวีรชน 14 ตุลาคม (‘diary of 14th October heroes’).

The documentary will also be shown at the Thai Film Archive, on 14th October. The exhibition at QSNCC runs until 23rd October, to coincide with Book Expo Thailand 2023. The exhibition brochure folds out into a small poster with a black-and-white photo of protesters at Democracy Monument on the day before the massacre.

Matichon also launched a new book about the events of October 1973 at the Book Expo today. ข้างหลังภาพ 14 ตุลาฯ: จากระบอบปฏิวัติของเผด็จการสู่การปฏิวัติของประชาชน (‘behind the image of 14th Oct.: from the dictatorship’s revolutionary regime to the people’s revolution’), by Pandit Chanrochanakit, includes reproductions of newspaper headlines and paintings related to the protests, and provides context on the political climate in the years before the massacre.

07 October 2023

๕๐ ปี ๑๔ ตุลา
(‘50 years of 14th Oct.’)



This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the 14th October 1973 demonstration, when 500,000 people rallied at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument calling for an end to Thanom Kittikachorn’s dictatorial rule. The protest was successful, as Thanom was dismissed as prime minister and sent into exile, though the military shot and killed seventy-seven protesters. The anniversary was commemorated with an exhibition of paintings at g23 earlier in the year, and there will also be an exhibition at the forthcoming Thailand Book Expo and screenings at the Thai Film Archive later this month.

Bangkok Art and Culture Centre is also holding an exhibition to mark the anniversary, from 3rd to 15th October, with replicas of billboards created by the United Artists’ Front of Thailand (แนวร่วมศิลปินแห่งประเทศไทย). The billboards were originally displayed outdoors in 1975, and the replicas have been shown at two previous exhibitions: Political Cut-out Artworks of the October Event (ภาพศิลปะคัทเอาท์การเมืองเดือนตุลา) in 2003 and ภาพคัตเอาท์การเมืองเดือนตุลา (‘October political billboard artworks’) in 2009.

BACC will also be screening a series of short films, including Pirab (พิราบ) and the documentary The Shadow of History (เงาประวัติศาสตร์) on 8th October, and 16 ตุลา (‘16th Oct.’) on 15th October. (Pirab was previously shown at Thammasat University earlier this month, at Future Fest 2023, and at the Thai Film Archive in 2017. 16 ตุลา was previously shown online as part of Democracy.exe in 2021.)

The Shadow of History, produced by the Thai Film Archive on the fortieth anniversary of the protest, features newsreel footage of the event filmed by Chin Klaiparn and Taweesak Wiriyasiri. It was directed by Panu Aree, Kong Rithdee, and Kaweenipon Ketprasit.

Pirab, directed by Pasit Promnumpol, begins with a flashback (in sound only) to another massacre, on 6th October 1976, which took place after Thanom’s return from exile. The film dramatises a student’s anguished decision to leave his family and join the Communist insurgency, allowing the audience to empathise with the young man’s dilemma.

In 16 ตุลา, three student protest leaders debate their tactics in the aftermath of the 2014 coup. (The three students could, of course, be substitutes for Arnon Nampa, Panusaya Sithjirawattanakul, and Parit Chirawak.) Aomtip Kerdplanant’s drama shows how the students’ lives have changed in the years since their initial campaign, indicating how seasoned protesters can become disillusioned. The title is a conflation of the 14th October 1973 and 6th October 1976 massacres, which have been whitewashed to such an extent that many people cannot tell them apart.

05 October 2023

คนอุบลใน 6 ตุลา
(‘Ubon people and 6th Oct.’)


Songsarn

Tomorrow marks the forty-seventh anniversary of the massacre that took place at Thammasat University on 6th October 1976, the most notorious date in modern Thai history. The anniversary will be commemorated at Thammasat tomorrow, but only for a single day. There will be a one-day exhibition—112 มรดก 6 ตุลา— (‘112: the legacy of 6th Oct.’) and screenings of the documentary Different Views, Death Sentence (ต่างความคิด ผิดถึงตาย ๖ ตุลาคม ๒๕๑๙) and the short film Pirab (พิราบ). There will also be a discussion titled เอายังไงดีกับกองเซ็นเซอร์: บทบาทของคณะกรรมการพิจารณาภาพยนตร์และวิดิทัศน์ภายใต้รัฐบาลซอฟต์พาวเวอร์ (‘what to do with the censors: the role of the National Film and Video Committee and soft power’), arguing that Thailand’s film industry can only contribute to the country’s soft power if the censors’ role is restricted purely to classification rather than cutting or banning films.

คนอุบลใน 6 ตุลา (‘Ubon people and 6th Oct.’), an exhibition at the Songsarn café in Ubon Ratchathani, runs from 22nd September to 6th October and includes photographs of the massacre. Outside the cafe is an enlargement of the Neal Ulevich photograph that has come to symbolise the tragedy, with the hanging man’s body cut out, leaving a physical void in the image to symbolise the whitewashing of the event. A folding chair—a reference to Neal Ulevich’s famous photograph of the massacre—is also hanging outside the venue, and will be used in a performance by artist Narasith Vongprasert tomorrow.


Both the Thammasat and Songsarn exhibitions feature reproductions of the infamous Dao Siam (ดาวสยาม) newspaper front page that precipitated the massacre. The Thammasat exhibition also includes a copy of a speech read by Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul at a 12th December 2021 protest calling for the abolition of article 112 of the criminal code (the lèse-majesté law). The paper is stained with Panusaya’s blood, as she carved “112” into her arm at the demonstration.

Pirab will also be shown on 8th October at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. It was previously shown at Future Fest earlier this year, and at the Thai Film Archive in 2017. Folding chairs have also been shown suspended from ropes at the Status in Statu, Uncensored, and Khonkaen Manifesto (ขอนแก่น แมนิเฟสโต้) exhibitions.