Artists in the Mekong River Basin(2) – from ‘SPECTROSYNTHESIS Ⅱ’ in Bangkok


Written by Kentaro Ichihara (Art Critic), Translated by AURA Art

First of all, I would like you to look at this picture. It is a sight that I witnessed when I visited Bangkok and entered the Art and CultureCenter- BACC in a central part of the city called Siam. I happened to see an artist performing on a piece of work(?), installed on the floor of the hall. At their feet was a light box with a map marked with the locations of dams which were already constructed, under-construction, or planned for construction along the Mekong River.

Why are so many dams being built along the Mekong River? The most convincing answer is that the economic development in this basin area is surprisingly rapid. That's right, but my interest deepened when I encountered a video exhibit in Taiwan (Taichung) after I visited Bangkok that explored the close relationship between the construction of this area's dam and virtual currency; mining.

What was being held at BACC was 'SPECTROSYNTHESIS II' (1), which dealt with LGBTQ arts. Isn't this the most vivid and symbolic exhibition of the present day? If art is an activity that encourages the liberation of human beings, it is the people called minorities, especially sexual minorities who need this in modern society.

Their expression, which is socially oppressed, takes on a tone of pain and distress, as a matter of course. At this exhibition, it vividly testified the sad monologue of the boys who appeared in the documentary (2) on the subject of prostitution of minors in Bangkok. Nevertheless, the expressions of exhibiting artists were filled with hope for liberation, so they are now potentially overflowing with joy (3).

The premise of this exhibition's plan was the diversity of sexuality (sexual phenomena, directivity). LGBTQ is its manifestation and it teaches people to live life full of joy because the liberation of sexuality is a synonym for the affirmation of life (4). Despite the sudden downward shift that can lead to tragedy, the liberation of sexuality is undoubtedly good.


  • (2) the documentary on the subject of prostitution of minors in Bangkok, "Underage" by Ohm Phanphiroj

  • (3) by Arunothai Somsakul

  • (4) "Gushing Out My Confession", 2015
    60x40 cm (15 Pieces), photo
    by Naraphat Sakarthornsap

Because of this, BACC was enveloped in a certain sense of well-being. It was unusual for a recent exhibition and it gave the venue a cheerful atmosphere. The modern world seems to have fallen into a spiral of misfortune, and not just regarding war and terrorism. Therefore, exhibitions such as biennales that deal with serious problems tend to be immersed in a tense, dark tone.

But despite the serious problems, the optimistic and relaxing air was flowing at 'SPECTROSYNTHESIS II', probably because not only the participating artists, but also the audience were convinced that they were moving towards a release. The exhibition demonstrates in silence how strong an impulse to live affirmation is. It seems that Bangkok, which is tolerant of sexuality, is supporting it.

A concise and clear message from a character in the documentary 'Loves Get Better with Time Quietly' (5) which I watched at the end of the exhibition, “Love has nothing to do with gender. Love is love” expresses the exhibition comprehensively - perhaps, I am not the only one who felt like that. 'SPECTROSYNTHESIS II' dyed the rainbow spectrum of the LGBTQ (6) into erotic raw colors.

  • (5) "Loves Get Better with Time Quietly"
    by Sudaporn Teja

  • (6) "Rainbow Buffalo", 2013
    320x500 cm, photogragh
    by Maitree Siriboon