Tango In The Big Mango - Monograph

Tango In
The Big Mango

‘Tango In The Big Mango’ – a Baudelaire-like photo documentary about Bangkok, working at a ground zero of now-ness.

The photo book ‘Tango in the Big Mango’ shows Bangkok as a city in which the coexistence of different cultures and people from different countries, despite their peculiarities, have found a way to live together.

The photo book is a mixture of documentary/street and conceptual images. Therefore the book is split into four parts: The main part is documentary/street photography, the other three minor parts are concept based around the themes GREED, GROWTH and ANGST. Together they form the documentary concept ‘Tango in the Big Mango’, that captures the intensity of urban life and barrage of consumption, culture and eccentricity in Bangkok.

Tango In The Big Mango

I tend to see this group of works as ‘documentary’ in a unique sense of the word. We tend to think of ‘documentary’ as something like a ‚capture‘ that is highly instructive and explanatory, but I see Nitsch’s use of the ‚documentary’ as something far more Baudelaire-like, a split second in time that lends our eye something prior to narrative meaning and description/definition.

— GREGORY GALLIGAN, Director Thai Art Archives

GREED, GROWTH and ANGST are mental formations, like in Buddhism, which range from greed and hatred to discretion and balance of mind – BUT these three concepts are not limited to Bangkok, they apply worldwide.

GROWTH concept: The images of this short series are stimulated by rethinking our theory of progress and growth. The fast paced forward-looking way isn’t an option any more – we’ve already grown too much. The Golden Boy with it’s golden life foil is synonymous to the ending of the golden era of growth – people are looking at it and don’t understand it anymore. It’s not working anymore. The boy stands for a not grown up (society) yet.

GREED concept: Over the years, the media has done much to promote the idea that the essential qualities of the free market system are to promote greed and growth. From a Buddhist perspective, to want passionately is a hindrance and a poison, whether one „deserves“ the thing wanted or not. Certainly, Buddhism does not teach that there is anything wrong with working to earn money. The challenge is to live in a material culture without getting snared by it, so desire loses its power to jerk us around. The Peacock Business Man with it’s peacock feathers is synonymous to a longing for material gain, like status, or power.

ANGST concept: Everybody has fear and Angst that life can be over. Many people worry about their life while looking back in Angst that they achieved nothing yet. And on the other hand people worry about the future, how to make a living, but forget to live in the moment: „Life happens now“, no matter how hard life is, you have to live it at the moment. This is a very buddhist and Thai way of living. The Masked Person with it’s reversal worn mask on the head is synonymous to that.

Tango In The Big Mango


Tango In The Big Mango
Hatje Cantz

Essay by Gregory Galligan (Thai Art Archives)
Graphic design by Suzie Wong
English, German
25 cm by 30 cm
80 colour plates, 160 pages
PhoenixMotion Xantur, 170 g/m2
Planned Release Date: April 2021


photoMÜNCHEN 19, Munich, Germany 15.–18.11.2019

UPCOMING: Kathmandu Photo Gallery, Bangkok, Thailand 2021



I cannot do it without your help! Kickstarter photo book is running until 9th of June – thanks!

For over 2 years, I worked on my own dime for this project. Now, additional funds are needed to complete printing the photo book and to exhibit.

I would like to produce the very best book possible: a book without compromise and one whose quality will do justice to the many years of work which went into its making.

If you are interested in the book and the story of it, this campaign would be a perfect opportunity to support the project by pre-ordering the book or buying one of the various package offers on Kickstarter. I would also be extremely grateful if you could help spread the word about this photo book with your family, friends and colleagues.

With your help, the legacy for ‘Tango in the Big Mango’ will be the stunning, collectable photo book that I’m hoping to produce. Your support will make this book possible!

Thank you very much for your support. To pledge, click here to go to Kickstarter.

A distinctive and raw portrait of contemporary Bangkok and its inhabitants that remains as complicated as inscrutable. Like Tango, Bangkok has influences from many countries. This photographic documentary concept explores the question of identity, and the boundaries between growth and angst – a finite attempt at conceiving of the inconceivability, that is life.

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