It would be difficult to understand Thailand and its culture with the history of thousands of years with a single exhibition. The group exhibition “This Moment – Thailand” aims to better understand “the difference” by providing more diverse perspectives on the present of a different culture, this exhibition is a cultural approach to respect diversity and differences and demonstrate the value of co-existence.
By Efi Michararou
Photo: Asia Culture Center Archive
The exhibition “This Moment – Thailand” at Asia Culture Center in Gwangju portrays Thailand with the keywords: politics & society, religion and relations, through the eyes of 11 artists working with film and video, who represent the young generation who live at the heart of the rapidly changing Thai society. The exhibition provides a window into the world of experimental Thai film, providing a more in depth look into the social and societal situation of Thailand that is otherwise missed by the millions of tourists who flock to the nation every year. First, this exhibition shows Thailand in the political and social context. Thailand has seen more than 20 coups since the absolute monarchy was replaced with the constitutional monarchy in 1932. Although Thailand had the so-called “the rich-get-richer and the poor-get-poorer” trend, there were minor conflicts among classes in Thailand in the past. Most of Thai people adapted themselves to the class system, believing that their previous life determined their karma. Thaksin Shinawatra, who was elected as the Prime Minister of Thailand in 2001, pledging to write off debts of farmers and the poor, adopt the medical insurance program and take the market-friendly economic policy, changed such a mindset. However, when his tax evasion and illegally accumulated wealth were revealed in 2006 during his second term, bipolarization of the Thai society began, mainly in the middle class of Bangkok. The anti-Thaksin movement was made, and the political, social and class conflicts of Thailand were ever deepened as the country was divided into those supporting Yellow (the Democratic Party) which is anti-Thaksin and supports monarchy and the military and Red (the Pheu Thai Party) supporting Thaksin. Second, the exhibition shes light on Thailand in the religious context. About 95% of Thais believe in Buddhism. Thailand has countless Buddhist temples, and monks begging for aims are easily seen at streets of Thailand in the early morning. Buddhism is life itself for Thais. They invite monks to pray for happiness and good luck on every family occasions. Karma and reincarnation reflect the religious view of the world with blurred boundaries between life and death, reality and fictions and the present and the past. Karma and reincarnation which is an endless cycle of life and death are seen as “connection” and “co-existence,” and unite two worlds and value systems which are completely different. Third, along with physical elements such as politics and the society as well as spiritual elements such as a religion and a view of the world, this exhibition also shows the present of Thailand by focusing on feelings individuals have in the Thai society and relationships among individuals. Most of Southeast Asian countries are being rapidly urbanized but their infrastructure for the secondary industry is relatively underdeveloped. Urbanization, which is faster than economic development, is causing side effects. Most notably, Bangkok sees a rapidly widening gap between the rich and the poor and a rapid growth of the urban poor as its population grows too fast. In addition, Thailand is being rapidly transformed into a digital society, which has changed relations between individuals and the society and relationships among individuals.
Info: Asia Culture Center, 38 Munhwajeondang-ro, Dong-gu, Gwangju, Duration: 23/11/16-26/2/17, Days & Hours: Tue, Thu-Fri & Sun 10:00-18:00, Wed 10:00-21:00, Sat 10:00-19:00, www.acc.go.kr