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Photographer – Manit Sriwanichpoom (Thai)

“The suit is a symbol of Westernisation and capitalistic success. The flashy pink satin personifies tastelessness and conspicuous consumption,” Manit said.

‘substance, not style’


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Manit Sriwanichpoom is a Thai artist who uses photography and video to make art of a social and political nature. His work, dominated by the enigmatic figure of the “Pink Man”, focuses on the critique of consumerism and political apathy that according to Manit pervades present-day Thai society –such as in the series “Horror in Pink”, where he deals with dramatic events of Thai contemporary history such as the 1976 “6 October Massacre”, when dozens of left-wing students were killed by members of the police, army and paramilitary forces who stormed the campus of Thammasat university, in central Bangkok

“How shocking when, last year, more than a million voters elected Samak Sundaravej their new governor of Bangkok [Samak is at present the embattled PM of Thailand]. I was flabbergasted. Was not this the same Samak who back in October 1976 went on radio to urge that brute force be used against pro-democracy protesters, in the events that culminated in the most horrifying massacre in Bangkok history?

I asked myself: Has everyone forgotten? Does ‘October 6’ mean nothing to us now? Do we even care? Have we learned nothing from history? Because of this, I don’t think it would be too much for me to hold that ‘Pink Man’ stands for present day Thailand. While out shopping, the man in the obscene pink satin suit with a matching obscene pink shopping cart – a soulless man without a conscience to trouble him – amuses himself by joining the ogling crowd in news photographs of unimaginable cruelty from the May Massacre and events of 14 and 6 October. My, he’s really getting his rocks off. How he enjoys himself.”

(from http://www.rama9art.org/manit_s/)

Apart from the “Pink Man” series, Manit´s other work includes the re-creation of several iconic images from the Vietnam War (The Bloodless War). The re-location of such images in a contemporary context puts into question the alleged discontinuities between the war period and the present era, when the battlefields of Southeast Asia have been transformed into a marketplace (as one former Thai PM put it)

I hope some of you might find Manit´s work interesting. If you want to learn more, these are some links about him and his art (by the way the first picture in the Pink Man series reproduced above was used by the Dead Kennedys for the cover of their “Holiday in Cambodia” single – well be sure that didn´t happen in Cambodia but in Thailand!):

short biography and other info

a list of exhibitions

asian photography blog

momentaart

notice of a Manit´s conference at the Australian National University last April

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MANIT SRIWANICHPOOM – b. 1961 Thailand. Lives and works in Bankok.

“The Pink Man on tour # 4 – Amazing billboard ‘Pepsi hilltribe culture conservation vilage.”
From the Pink Man series, 1998 (2)

“Bankok is in a crisis situation. The more we change, the more we destroy ourselves.

We have skyscrapers hovering in the haze of Bankok’s smog but we don’t know our neighbours.

We are surrounded by things but we are losing our spirit and soul.”

Manit Sriwanichpoom

Manit Sriwanichpoom is an artist/activist from Thailand, who uses photography and video to make art of a social and political nature. As well as his solo photographic pieces, he has worked in collaboration with other Thai artists and community groups to make work which critiques government policy.

This Bloodless War
In the series “This Bloodless War – greed, globalization and the end of independence” (see below), Sriwanichpoom took six classic photo-reportage images from the Vietnam War and the bombing of Nagasaki (historic moments from Asia’s twentieth century conflicts with the West) and recreated them in a critique of Thailand’s economic development plans in light of commercial imperialism and global capitalism.

The black and white photographs were mounted on large boards and exhibited along the roadside in a central Bangkok street.

These reconstructed images subvert the notion of Asian people as powerless victims with ironic humour, provoking us (as viewers and consumers) not only to recognise the corporate powers which impact on developing economies but also to question the way the histories of these countries have been framed by Western news media.

Amazing Thailand
1998 – 1999 was “Amazing Thailand Year”, a campaign by the Thai government and private sector to promote international tourism. Sriwanichpoom called it a “promotional drive to ‘save’ the country — by selling it.”

In response he conceived and documented a piece performed by artist Sompong Thawee, which occurred at various landmark locations throughout Thailand, called ‘The Pink Man on Tour’. (see above) The video was shown in 1998 at a group exhibition in Bankok called “Never My Land” and the photos were made into postcards. These were sent to a site specific group exhibition curated by Erika Tan and Neil McConnon in Bloomsbury, London, whose theme and title was ‘Souvenir”.

More recently Sriwanichpoom was involved in demonstrations against Hollywood movie, “The Beach”. This new film starring Leonardo di Caprio – about the backpacker trail – was being shot on Phuket beach, an ecological reserve in northern Thailand. Despite being a protected environmental area, filmakers were allowed to import palm trees and resculpt the beach. And now that the film has been made, how many more tourists will be rushing to the island on the Leonardo trail?…

The graphic image (below, right) is taken from Sriwanichpoom’s Amazing Thailand postcard series. (3)

From the series “This Bloodless War – greed, globalization and the end of independence”, a roadside photography exhibition. 1997 (Compare this photograph with Nick Ut’s 1972 photo of people fleeing a napalm attack in Vietnam) (4)

WISH YOU WERE HERE?…

Sriwanichpoom uses photography and video to deconstruct and re-version a vision of Thailand from his own perspective.Photography frames places or events or a moment, thereby determining our reading of the image. Our memories of events and our readings of history can be greatly influenced by the way photography has represented things or people, by what has been included and what has been left out.

  • What would you make, inspired by this artist’s work?
  • You could look at a series of historical documentary, advertising and family photographs, depicting holidays and tourism, to examine how these different genres represent the same subject. Can you identify the main formal elements (colour, composition, lens angle etc) in each case and compare how they are used differently to convey meaning?
  • Choose a postcard depicting a place you know well (a photograph or a painting) and think about what is missing. Using photography and photomontage or collage techniques or using a digital photo manipulation package like ‘Photoshop”, you could recreate your version of the scene (possibly even going there to re-photograph it), as you think it should look or as you wish it could look.
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Artist: Manit Sriwanichpoom


(Photo: Tang Gallery)

Pink Man Army – May, 2008
Manit Sriwanichpoom’s “Pink Man Army” at Tang Beijing in August, 2007

Pas pointed this out in the forum: This might be of interest to some of you: a Thai photographer by the name of Manit Sriwanichpoom. His work was featured internationally and recently exhibited at the Venice Biennale. Manit’s works confronts social / political issues like the excess of consumption, the impact globalisation, poverty etc. Some of his photos are deliberate dramatisation with actors, sometimes set against derelict landscapes (like the abandon Hopewell pillars and skeletons of unfinished Bangkok skyscrapers). Check it out: 12

The Pink Man is both a brash observer and symbol of excess, vulgarity, and falseness. Many Thais are somewhat bewildered or confused by Manit’s work. Concepts of darkly humorous socially conscious art are not well established here. There is also a certain resistance or immunity to self-criticism so many people perceive Manit’s work as simply a failed attempt at comedy that is in bad taste.


Above: ‘Pink Man” inserted in a famous photo of a policeman shooting into Thammasat University during the 1976 coup

On this page is one of his most famous images–the Pink Man with shopping cart looming above the Bangkok skyline.

Other great Pink Man images: “PINK MAN IN VENICE (4)”, in front of a wat, with man eating ice cream.

Photos of Manit Sriwanichpoom and Sompong Tawee, a model for Pink Man.

A variety of striking images from Manit and a review of the Pink Man work.

“From Desires to Where?” – a joint exhibition by Manit Sriwanichpoom and Weng Fen

On this page at the bottom is a ‘modern’ version of people fleeing from a napalm attack. Part of This Bloodless War (1997)

Photos from “In your face”

Talking picturesThe Star Online, January 23, 2005
…“Horror in Pink are the photographs of the 1976 lynchings. I published them in 2001 because the newly-elected governor of Bangkok, Samak Sundravej, was believed to have supported the massacre of the students. How could we have let him become governor? Have we forgotten our heroes who died for democracy? Why did these heroes die? … and I thought the answer was so that we could go shopping.
“The Pink Man in the photos represents today’s people. They have forgotten their history and are only interested in consumerism. The pink man is disturbing because of the amused way in which he looks at the horrible events going on around him. Some people despise him for behaving in such a manner, but many of us have forgotten the sacrifices of the past, so we are not so different…
“My next pink man exhibition will concern neo-nationalism. Again I will use the economic crisis as the starting point because before that, nationalism was on the decline. But in Thailand, I think nationalism is back. Our ruling party is Thai Rak Thai, which means ‘Thais love Thais’.”…

Protest – a new book by Manit Sriwanichpoom Bangkok Post, November 5, 2003
Last month we mentioned Manit Sriwanichpoom, the outrageous artist and commentator on the Thai world. Today the Post has an article about his latest book which laments the growing boredom with which the increasingly monolithic government and media treat grassroots issues: Each Tuesday for a year Khun Manit turned up at Government House to photograph whoever might be protesting. Occasionally, there was no-one but some Tuesdays “yielded three or four major protests, involving hundreds or thousands, like a trade fair displaying `Problems of the People’ ”.
Tuesday, one learns from the book, is the protesters’ favourite day because the cabinet meets on Tuesday and there are a large number of reporters around, so your protest has a better chance of being covered in the newspapers the next day. Or at least that’s the way it used to be.
Khun Manit notes that today, “now that the so-called mass media are unable or unwilling to do their duty, it is useless to protest even on a Tuesday. However loud and agonised, your cries can no longer penetrate the walls of Government House to reach the ears of the reporters inside…”
…Ms Ing also ponders on the present state of the Thai media: “The Thai media’s state of spiritual corruption at the present time is such that, far from reflecting what is actually happening, they have become a fun-fair house of mirrors, making us laugh or shocking us with their distorted images but giving us no understanding of our problems and the context of our times. They are accurate only in the way that they do reflect, by their own inadequacy, the moral bankruptcy of our nation….

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2008.11.17-11.23

Place M 20周年企画展

Manit Sriwanichpoom

Ordinary / Extraordinary

Manit Sriwanichpoom「Ordinary / Extraordinary」
Manit Sriwanichpoom「Ordinary / Extraordinary」
Manit Sriwanichpoom「Ordinary / Extraordinary」
Manit Sriwanichpoom「Ordinary / Extraordinary」

These are people from around my studio, I’d see them pass by every day, but I didn’t know any of them. I just thought it was time I got to meet my neighbours; that’s how the project came about.
I set out with no expectations. But as I got into it, I came to see that these people actually have very remarkable faces. This surprised me, because I’d never really thought about these people before; they were average people I’d passed by on the streets and never considered. But once a face was locked inside a photograph, inside the frame time stood still and I got to really scrutinise each one, the features and structure of a face, the emotions of each picture.
When the idea came to me, I immediately thought of a way to simplify the process. I didn’t want to use a complicated set up. I wanted to avoid a studio atmosphere with many lights and all that. Just one light for all. They would queue up and sit down one by one quite simply, no fussing over lights.
Initially, some people were nervous; they thought there’d be a lot of fuss because they saw it was a studio. But with this simple set up they were not crowded; they could breathe and be themselves. I told each one to sit down and not to try to express any emotion; just to keep their mind still within them. Just look into the camera and concentrate your mind within yourself.
I was quite surprised by their reactions afterwards. Some people sent their photos back to me because they were afraid of them, afraid of their own pictures.
I was sorry that they didn’t like it. I’d photographed them as the people that they were. I had no preconception, no prior expectations. I was just interested to get to know them. I didn’t set out to exoticise. For me, the interesting point is showing the lives, the stories that they have lived through. The life story is manifest upon the face, in the very texture of the skin, in the eyes. This is the interesting thing.
This experience has made me more aware of the people that I pass by on the streets. I try to look, to really look, at their expressions more; the look in their eyes. (原文まま)

Manit Sriwanichpoom マニット・スリワニチプーン

1961年 タイ国バンコク生まれ
バンコクに在住し、活動拠点としている
Photo gallery KATHMANDUを運営

主な個展
2008年 The Lambs of God (Centre for Contemporary Photography / オーストラリア・メルボルン)
2007年 Man in Pink (Galerie VU’/ フランス・パリ)
2007年 Ordinary/Extraordinary (Tang Gallery / タイ国・バンコク)
2006年 Beijing Pink (Highland Gallery / 中国・北京)
2006年 Pink Man in Wonderland (month of photography BTS National Stadium / タイ国・バンコク)
2005年 Pink Man in Paradise (Valentine Willie Fine Arts / マレーシア・クアランプール)
2004年 Pink Man in Paradise (Monash University / オーストラリア・メルボルン)(Cemeti Art House / ジョグジャカルタ・インドネシア)
2002年 Bangkok in Pink (横浜美術館 / 日本・横浜)

主な展示
2008年 Coffee, Cigarettes and Pad Thai (Eslite Gallery / 台湾・台北)
2007年 Photoquai (the World Visual Arts Biennale, Musee du Quai Branly / フランス・パリ)
2007年 Las Partes Y El Todo (Fundacio Foto Colectania / スペイン・バルセロナ)
2007年 Festival du Scoop (Angers / フランス)
2007年 Soft Power (Zendai MoMA / 中国・上海)
2007年 Act of Faith (Noorderlicht Photofestival / オランダ・フローニンゲン)
2007年 Asia – Europe Mediations (Poznan National Museum / ポーランド)
2007年 Thermocline of Art – New Asian Waves (ZKM / ドイツ・カールスルーエ)
2007年 Show Me Thai (東京都現代美術館 / 日本・東京)
2007年 So Close / So Far Away (CRAC ALSACE / フランス・アルトキルシュ)
2006年 Fever Variations (6th Gwangju Biennale / 韓国)
2005年 The First Pocheon Asian Art Festival (韓国・ポチョン)
2004年 Resistance (Chobi Mela III / バングラディッシュ・ダッカ)
2003年 50 th la Biennale di Venezia (Thai Pavilion / イタリア)

受賞歴
2007年 第23回 東川賞海外作家賞受賞
他多数

URL : http://www.rama9art.org/manit_s/
Photo gallery KATHMANDU : http://www.kathmandu-bkk.com/

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This entry was posted on December 26, 2008 by in Photographer - Manit Sriwanichpoom (Thai) and tagged .
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