This is no billboard advertising yet another suburban housing project. On the contrary, ‘Ruam Mitr Village’ is Shane Bunnag’s–a Thai/British filmmaker and photographer–attempt to understand the centrifugal forces that have propelled Thai society to turn paddy fields and swamps on Bangkok’s outskirts into ironic emblems of impossible dreams.
Scenes from old Thai films are superimposed onto present day images of faux Louis XIV million dollar mansions that teeter between grandiose luxury and abandoned ruin. Each of these composite images is paired with a photograph of the suburban wasteland to create a disturbing yet poignant diptych. In this contentious space between melodrama, illusion and swamp, the real morphs into the fictional and vice versa until we can no longer distinguish between truth and delusion.
The polarity between each pair of images—grotesque depictions of decadence on the one hand and portrayals of sprawling decay on the other—demonstrate the inherent contradictions of Bangkok’s unfulfilled aspirations while also eliciting a strange beauty and surreal poetry.
As in his previous series ‘Dryopes’ (2017), Shane Bunnag’s work in this exhibition is saturated with a sense of the unseen world. But the invisible presences that haunt this ‘Ruam Mitr Village’ are darker, more tormented, as if the people who live here are trapped in demonic possession impossible to exorcise.
Exhibition at Galerie Oasis
Trans-dimensional art space
16 March – 21 April 2019