News / Arts & Entertainment

    Amid Repression, Art Scene in Thailand's Capital Blooms

    Thai graffiti artist Asin Acid poses near his graffiti in Bangkok, Thailand, March 7, 2016.
    Thai graffiti artist Asin Acid poses near his graffiti in Bangkok, Thailand, March 7, 2016.
    Reuters

    On a wall in a northern suburb of Bangkok "Asin Acid" puts the finishing touches to a spray-painted picture of a colorful giant chicken holding a broken loudspeaker.

    "The loudspeaker represents the media. The media is trying to say something but is being interrupted," said Asin, who uses a pseudonym for his street art to protect his identity and said he is inspired by Cranio, a graffiti artist from Brazil.

    "The rainbow colors represent freedom," he said.

    Thailand's military seized power nearly two years ago and has censored media, hauled in hundreds of critics for sessions of "attitude adjustment" and snuffed out protests.

    Junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha has threatened to shut down news outlets critical of his government and regularly scolds journalists who he considers straying from the official line.

    But state repression has unleashed a wave of artistic expression, say artists and art lovers, and the Thai capital's art scene is blooming in response to life under junta rule.

    "It's because they can't talk about it that they're creating," said Gili Back, a cafe and gallery owner, referring to Bangkok's artists. "You'll see a lot more graffiti and street art where people are having their say on walls."

    Bangkok's art scene has traditionally been overlooked in favour of places like Hong Kong but in recent years venues have mushroomed with Thai and expatriate artists turning shop houses and disused spaces into galleries.

    People attend an exhibition by artist Jirawut Ueasungkomsate at a gallery in Bangkok, Thailand, March 4, 2016.
    People attend an exhibition by artist Jirawut Ueasungkomsate at a gallery in Bangkok, Thailand, March 4, 2016.

    On a recent Friday night a crowd packed into a room at the WTF Bar and Gallery to see 'This is Not a Political Act' by Jirawut Ueasungkomsate, an exhibition on cases of enforced disappearance that have taken place under successive governments.

    In the pitch-black room audience members shine flashlights on black and white photographs of people, including prominent rights activists, whose whereabouts are not known.

    Though not a direct commentary on the junta, it speaks about the impunity enjoyed by state officials, said Jirawut, adding that he was initially scared about holding the exhibition.

    The junta, formally known as the National Council for Peace and Order, has shut down some political lectures and talks.

    "It is because I am afraid that I have to do it," said Jirawut.

    At 'The Respectables', an exhibition by British artist Richard Mead, paintings - of fashion models, the media and political protests - depict different forms of power.

    "The theme of power and 'The Respectables' really goes with the context of Thailand right now. Especially with the type of government we are under," said Teerapa Pirohakul, an art lover and history lecturer at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University.

    Artist Jirawut Ueasungkomsate poses for a photograph during his exhibition at a gallery in Bangkok, Thailand, March 4, 2016.
    Artist Jirawut Ueasungkomsate poses for a photograph during his exhibition at a gallery in Bangkok, Thailand, March 4, 2016.

    Across town, as his exhibition fills with the after-work crowd, Jirawut reflects on the city's art scene.

    "No matter whether we are under a military or a civilian government we need this space," he said. "Society cannot exist if everyone thinks the same."

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    New in Music Alley

    Take It From The Top: Stanley Jordani
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    May 17, 2016 5:01 PM
    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously. He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously.  He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

     

     

     

     

    Blogs

    African Music Treasures