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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.