Archive: Thailand
Thai artist fails miserably, or did he not?

Thai artist fails miserably, or did he not?

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 3600sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

In 2007 Thai artist Sakarin Krue-On attempted to transform the park in front of a castle in Kassel, Germany into a 3.600sqm terraced rice field. For this project Krue-On and his Thai team tried to dispense the use of machines as much as possible, while relying on traditional methods, using simple devices such as spades, forks and hooks.

The clash of cultures, impressively shown through the contrast of the Wilhelmshöhe Castle and the field, is a key element of this work: On the one hand the majestic piece of European architecture, symbolizing status and power, embodying Western provenance, and right beneath, Thai workers using ancient methods to cultivate rice fields. Terraced Rice Field can also be seen as a representation of growth and collaboration. Pulling off documenta 12’s biggest work, an art event which drew 754,000 paying visitors, required an immense amount of negotiation and communication, in which different working methods met in the planning process. This is another major component of the artwork: Collective cooperation in which traditional knowledge meets scientific expertise.

This site-specific project was the first time that wet rice open air terraces were cultivated in outside fields in Germany. Unfortunately, the majority of the terraces couldn’t hold the water; regardless of what amount got added, it kept trickling away, and the work on project ultimately got stopped due to security concerns. However, more importantly than successfully growing crops, Krue-On managed to bring together people from all walks to life, transcending barriers by working next to each other.

Kassel Schloss Wilhelmshoehe photo dontworry
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 3600sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 3600sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 3600sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 3600sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 3600sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 3600sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

Sakarin Krue-on - Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12 9
Sakarin Krue-On with photo of Terraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 3600sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007


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The world under water: powerful photos taken after floods

The world under water: powerful photos taken after floods

Gideon Mendel - Chinta and Samundri Davi, Salempur village near Muzaffarpur, Bihar, India, August 2007

Gideon Mendel - Chinta and Samundri Davi, Salempur village near Muzaffarpur, Bihar, India, August 2007
Gideon MendelDrowning World – Chinta and Samundri Davi, Salempur village near Muzaffarpur, Bihar, India, August 2007

For a couple of years now, photographer Gideon Mendel has taken it upon himself to show the world what it is like in other parts of the world where the climate is very unfavourable to them. Mendel has not minded the dangers and lengths he has to go through to make sure he delivers the pictures in the clearest form possible. In his most recent project, Drowning World, he takes us round the world through his camera lenses and shows us calm portraits of flood victims in areas we would not expect. Drowning World shows the real picture of climate change around the world, the real picture behind the statistics and with real people the floods affect directly.

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Photos of world’s biggest statues taken from unusual angles

Photos of world’s biggest statues taken from unusual angles

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Jibo Kannon Kagaonsen, Japan 73 m (239 ft) Built in 1987
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Jibo Kannon, Kagaonsen, Japan, 73m (239ft), Built in 1987

Through several centuries, there have been different statues erected around the world. These statues vary in sizes and what they represent. Photographer Fabrice Fouillet embarked on a tour to study and take photographs of the biggest and most imposing statues in the world; A project he named Colosses. The project brings about a change in how these monuments are viewed, in other words, the idea of the project is not entirely to capture images of the statues or show off their sizes or the symbol they represent. The project however is to show these figures in the environment they are in and how they fit into the landscape and their connections to their immediate surroundings. Colosses is a study of the landscape in which monuments and commemorative statues are erected, and tends to bring out another perspective from which these symbolic representations can be viewed.

There can be different reasons why statues are erected and these include political, ideological or religious. Most times, statues are erected to keep alive the memory of a person or event and with the passing of the years, the statue will eventually become a symbol for the community.

As the series Colosses is all about the landscapes in which these statues are sited, we get to see the connections these gigantic declarations have with their immediate environment. A lot of statues were erected around the world in the 1990s with many of them located in Asia. Right now the world’s highest statue is undergoing construction in India and it will go as high as 182 meters which will be almost twice the size of the statue of liberty.

For this project, Fouillet took photographs of the statues outside their surroundings totally detaching them from their natural environment thereby giving a wider view and perspective to how these huge monuments fit into the landscape. He captures the monuments from a perspective we don’t usually get to see every day. Some of these monuments include the Dai Kanon in Sendai, Japan which he framed from a few blocks away. Christ the King monument in Swiebudzin, Poland was framed from behind. For some of the monuments, Fouillet shoots wide enough to capture the details of the things in the environment of these looming monoliths. For example, in the image of the Grand Byakue Kannon in Takazai, Japan, there is a Coca-Cola machine just down the hill away from the monument. According to Fouillet, his intention is to take out the monument from its regular touristic and religious setting which we are already used to.

So far, the project has spanned through ten countries and Fouillet thinks the project would not be complete if he does not capture the monument of Genghis Kahn riding on horseback which is located on the banks of the Tuul River in Mongolia and the Sardar Patel statue which is under construction in India. For the biggest statue in the world at the moment, the Spring Temple Buddha in Henan, China, Fouillet said he was unable to find a satisfying angle.

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - African Renaissance Monument Dakar, Senegal 49 m (161 ft) Built in 2010
Fabrice FouilletColosses, African Renaissance Monument, Dakar, Senegal, 49m (161ft), Built in 2010

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Alyosha Monument Murmansk, Russia 35.5 m (116.5 ft) Built in 1974
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Alyosha Monument, Murmansk, Russia 35.5 m (116.5 ft), Built in 1974

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Amitabha Buddha Ushiku, Japan 110 m (360 ft) Built in 1993
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Amitabha Buddha, Ushiku, Japan, 110m (360ft), Built in 1993

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Ataturk Mask Buca, Izmir, Turkey 40 m (132 ft) Built in 2009
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Ataturk Mask, Buca, Izmir, Turkey, 40m (132ft), Built in 2009

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Christ Blessing Manado, Indonesia 30 m (98.5 ft) Built in 2007
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Christ Blessing, Manado, Indonesia, 30m (98.5ft), Built in 2007

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Christ the King Świebodzin, Poland 36 m (120 ft) Built in 2010
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Christ the King Świebodzin, Poland, 36m (120 ft), Built in 2010

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Dai Kannon Sendai, Japan, 100m (330 ft) Built in 1991
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Dai Kannon, Sendai, Japan, 100m (330 ft), Built in 1991

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Grand Bouddha Sakayamunee. Ang Thong, Thailande 92 m (301 ft) Built in 2008
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Great Buddha of Thailand, Ang Thong, Thailand, 92m (301ft), Built in 2008

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Grand Byakue Takazaki, Japan 42 m (137 ft) Built in 1936
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Grand Byakue, Takazaki, Japan, 42m (137ft), Built in 1936

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Guan Yu Statue Yuncheng, China 80 meters (262 ft) Built in 2010
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Guan Yu Statue, Yuncheng, China, 80m (262ft), Built in 2010

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Guanyin Foshan, China 62 m (203 ft) Built in 1998
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Guanyin, Foshan, China, 62m (203ft), Built in 1998

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Laykyun Setkyar Monywa, Myanmar 116 m (381 ft) Built in 2008
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Laykyun Setkyar Monywa, Myanmar, 116m (381ft), Built in 2008

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Mao Zedong Changsha, China, 32 m (105 ft), Built in 2009
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Mao Zedong, Changsha, China, 32m (105ft), Built in 2009

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - Mother of the Fatherland. Kiev, Ukraine, 62 m (203 ft). Built in 1981
Fabrice FouilletColosses, Mother of the Fatherland, Kiev, Ukraine, 62m (203ft), Built in 1981

Fabrice Fouillet - Colosses - The Motherland Call. Volgograd, Russia 87 m (285 ft) Built in 1967
Fabrice FouilletColosses, The Motherland Call, Volgograd, Russia, 87m (285ft), Built in 1967


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Why would you stick a sword through your face?

Why would you stick a sword through your face?

Phil America - Phuket Vegetarian Festival

The Vegetarian Festival in Phuket, Thailand has a long and twisted history and, as a lifelong vegetarian, I was drawn to this festival with fascination. It began the way all great festivals begin: a Chinese Opera group gets sick and prays to the gods who respond, and cure them, by committing them to a vegetarian diet. Not exactly the way most of us are converted, but makes for a great story. Eventually, when the people of the region learned how the others were cured, they adopted this lifestyle and started rituals based around this unusual new diet. The aim was, and still is, to free the individuals of evil spirits, and bring good luck, purity, and inner peace. The date of the festival is based on the lunar calendar and is celebrated throughout much of Thailand, particularly in Phuket, for nine days in September or October each year.

The festival is still full of rituals and daily events, but none are more important than those of the Mah Song. A Mah Song is a man or woman that becomes possessed by a deity during the course of the festival and is able to perform superhuman acts, with, of course, the protection of the gods. They bathe in hot oil, climb bladed ladders, walk on coals, and pierce their skin with knives, guns, and other objects. Growing up as a vegetarian, I swear I never did any of those, except I did walk on hot coals, once. These folks are fierce, powerful, fearless, and a huge token of pride for their families and their communities. They are capable of manifesting supernatural powers to free themselves from the pain of their actions and the deity living within them is even said to protect them from any injury. They cleanse themselves of meat consumption for several months leading up to the event and live in a way that is pure of mind and body. Amazingly brave to say the least!

Google a picture of “Phuket Vegetarian Festival” and you are sure to ask yourself, Why? Then you may find yourself calling the airlines and asking about flights to Thailand. Before ever going to this festival, I went to many vegetarian festivals and events; this is much more than that. It is a day that celebrates rituals, beliefs, and all the food one could imagine. As soon as I heard of this, I knew I had to be there to immerse myself in the power and rarity of this event that is unlike any other event in the world. I wanted to be were the world was still sacred; where weird wasn’t weird. In much of the West, crazy has been sanded down into plain; we can really lack that culture that so many peoples still celebrate. The Mah Song must be like no other people on earth. If there are others who can slide a knife through their cheeks while standing on a snake and eating a veggie noodle plate, I want to go there too! Until then, lets celebrate these men and women as the last mythical people of Thailand.

By Phil America

The vegetarian festival is on from September 23rd – 3rd October 2014.

Phil America - Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Phil America - Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Phil America - Phuket Vegetarian Festival

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Public Delivery: Artist moves to Thailand’s largest slum

Public Delivery: Artist moves to Thailand’s largest slum

Slum Vacation by Phil America (video still 7)

About Slum Vacation

Slum Vacation takes viewers on an up close and personal trip to the Klong Toey slums with a performance project by American artist Phil America, in which he builds a house to live in Thailand’s largest marginal settlement area (slum) for 30 days. He integrates himself into the local community, bringing awareness to the 1⁄3 of the world’s urban population living in slums.

Klong Toey, with an estimated population of 120,000 inhabitants one of the largest slums in Asia, is located in central Bangkok. This district also houses the Bangkok University Art Gallery, one of South East Asia’s most important non-commercial art spaces, in which Slum Vacation was first displayed alongside a sound and video installation.

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Slum Vacation by Phil America (video still 1)

Slum Vacation by Phil America (video still 2)

Slum Vacation by Phil America (video still 3)

Slum Vacation by Phil America (video still 4)

Slum Vacation by Phil America (video still 5)

Slum Vacation by Phil America (video still 6)

Slum Vacation by Phil America (video still 8)

Slum Vacation by Phil America (video still 10)


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Mesmerizing photos of empty billboards in Thailand

Mesmerizing photos of empty billboards in Thailand

Sunghee Lee - Panneaux - Empty Billboard (Thailand)
Sunghee LeePanneaux – Empty Billboard (Thailand)

Not much information can be found about Sunghee Lee, a French based photographer, and his work, but his empty billboard photos quickly remind of Bernd and Hilla Becher and their Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity). However, he is using various angles and distances and usually contextualizes his objects with the surroundings and small events like a passing person or taxi.

Sunghee Lee - Panneaux - Empty Billboard (Thailand)
Sunghee LeePanneaux – Empty Billboard (Thailand)

Sunghee Lee - Panneaux - Empty Billboard (Thailand)
Sunghee LeePanneaux – Empty Billboard (Thailand)

Sunghee Lee - Panneaux - Empty Billboard (Thailand)
Sunghee LeePanneaux – Empty Billboard (Thailand)

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