Hip-waders may be needed

Art March 11, 2013 00:00

By The Nation

2,748 Viewed

Galleries revisit the great Bangkok flood of 2011 amid falling concrete and dead birds

A slew of interesting contemporary-art shows in Bangkok is tweaking interest, including one by Arin Rungjang, who the Culture Ministry has selected along with Wasinburee Supanichvoraparch to represent Thailand at this year’s Venice Biennale from June through November.

Arin’s “Space Gravity Rebound” is at Gallery Ver in Chatuchak’s Suan Rod Fai until May 10. Get the details on the “Gallery-VER” Facebook page.

In a possible hint at what the Italians can expect, the show seems to present nothing at all when you first enter – except for chunks of concrete dropping from a hole in the ceiling. Then you hear someone playing basketball and notice a red curtain. Poke your head inside and it appears to be a changing room. Inside it’s tiny and lonely.

The idea is to re-evaluate your common perceptions of life. You’re on your own from there.

Photographer Miti Ruangkritya has his impressive shots of Bangkok’s great 2011 deluge on view in “Imagining Flood” at the Kathmandu Gallery. It turns out there was beauty in the disaster, at least for the University of Westminster photojournalism master’s grad. The images are certainly foreboding and often surreal in his dreamlike rendering.

“It was the sense of fearful waiting that first drew me to the project,” says Miti, referring to the dread bordering on panic that engulfed all of Bangkok amid early predictions of catastrophe. Downtown stayed dry, but became an island encircled by drowning districts and waterlogged motorways.

“Whether you experienced the flooding firsthand or just through the news reports, the mental images were unavoidable. So I shot the scenes as if they’d originated in the subconscious, in contrast to the media’s urgent, frenetic reporting.”

Every shot is at night or just past dawn, the dimness adding to the otherworldly sensation. A slow shutter speed captures the stillness and suspense.

At the new 338 Oida Gallery, Tanatchai Bandasak’s “Go, Said the Bird” is promoted in a poster showing a photograph of what seems to be a dead bird – but in fact it’s a single feather wrapped in a dead leaf. Tanatchai came across the figure while walking in the woods in Udon Thani, his home province.

He photographs such objects that amount to nothing in particular until their associations are found later. “I just captured them when it felt right,” he says. “Later, in the editing process, I found their connections. Then everything that was found is taken into the process of abstraction.”

That entails creating devices by which the found objects can be exhibited, such as a wooden discus that leans against an air-frame structure and a wooden table in a whitewashed room. They suggest transition and weightlessness. What seems solid and tangible turns out to be amorphous.

The show continues until April 28. See more at www.338OidaArtBangkok.com.