, September 12, 2009
At the time of writing this essay (March 2009), an exhibition entitled “Bangkok 226” had just come to a close at the newly created Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. My expectation was to see an exhibition of works in the visual arts that could tell the story of how Bangkok evolved over the past 200 years. In other words, I had expected those works to speak to me on their own terms and be brought together in this specific exhibition in such a way as to engage in a seamless narrative. What I saw confused me. The choice of artworks which had been borrowed from various museums and collections as well as those specifically commissioned for this exhibition could not, on the whole, be justified on the grounds of their aesthetic value. Walking through the exhibition I soon realized that the organizers had had in mind a documentary on the history of Bangkok. Large panels with detailed accounts of the city’s historical development and descriptions of the individual exhibits had been put up. In the spirit of a documentary, the word seemed to have been granted supremacy over visual expression. I was not sure whether this was intentional. read more