Manit Sriwanichpoom (b.1961) has been a leading figure in Bangkok’s lively contemporary art scene. Whether satirizing the foibles of Thai nationalism or rattling the skeletons of the country’s bloody political past, Manit’s work is always insightful and provocative.
Best known for his acerbic photographic critiques of Thai consumerism, Manit’s trademark Pink Man series has been exhibited worldwide. But his most recent projects mark a return to formal concerns and opens up new questions about the future of a country divided and wracked by political and symbolic crisis.
His work has been exhibited worldwide, including in the Venice Biennale, Photo Espana, Biennial de Sao Paulo, Paris Photo, International Photography Biennale (Mexico), Gwangju Biennale (Korea), and at the Hayward Gallery (UK).
Exhibition Utopian Days, 2014
From March to April 2014, Public Delivery organized Utopian Days, a video art festival, and showed Manit Sriwanichpoom’s Pink Man in it. Utopian Days – Freedom was a video art festival at The Total Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, that presented works from 24 internationally renowned artists and collectives. From March 20th to April 13th, 2014, artists, critics and academics explored the theme of Freedom through an exhibition, talks, workshops and screenings.
Exhibited: Pink Man, 1997-
The Pink Man series began in 1997. Traditionally, a pink man symbolizes the eternally unsatisfied and self-centered consumer, a symbol of capitalism. Started as a performance, the pink man and his empty pink supermarket cart are a symbol of ubiquitous consumption against the backdrop of contemporary Thailand.
Beyond the obvious entertainment, the cart carries actual questions about progress and what consumerism means in newly developed Asian countries. The Pink Man, portrayed in several series, sets in the backdrop of street markets doubled with historical photos of social struggle provide a more poignant and accurate of the society.
Pink Man is wandering quietly and non-expressive face, like a robot serves as a foil to many consumption-driven situations such as tourism, progress. Also, the apparent pastiche of classical European painting betrays an exoticism from the East toward the West.
In this very dense transcultural portrait, Manit Sriwanichpoom also pointed out the inherent contradiction of the Buddhist principle of material detachment to the hyper-materialism installed by progress.