trans-dimensional art space
‘Ruam Mitr Village’
An exhibition of photography by
16 March – 21 April 2019
This is no billboard advertising yet another suburban housing project. On the contrary, ‘Ruam Mitr Village’ is Shane Bunnag’s 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 here 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.
Shane Bunnag : “Ruam Mitr—meaning ‘medley’—is the name of a gated community, a fragile proposition that’s nowhere but in the viewer’s mind, composed of images assembled from times and places on the far edges of Bangkok. Built in the swamp of the great delta, a century ago it was the domain of wild life and small communities of outcasts joined by muddy canals, now cut through with expressways, golf courses, manicured gardens and palatial houses: order ever on the brink of ruin. This suburb is a movie set filled with props for dramas enacted against the encroaching waters and patchwork wilderness. When the stories cease, the swamp will return.”
Shane Bunnag (b 1976, Cambridge, England) is a Thai/British filmmaker and photographer based in Bangkok and Paris. Growing up in Greece and England, he graduated MA History from the University of Edinburgh. Better known as a filmmaker including for the Greek language feature All for Nothing (2006), ‘Ruam Mitr Village’ is his third solo photographic exhibition.