Saturday, December 4, 2010

Manit Sriwanichpoom, ‘Sorcerer’s Lies,’ in the Silpa Wattanatham in Siam Rath Weekly News Magazine, 29 Feb – 6 Mar. 2008, Yr. 55, Vol. 43.

Manit Sriwanichpoom, ‘Sorcerer’s Lies,’ in the Silpa Wattanatham in Siam Rath Weekly News Magazine, 29 Feb – 6 Mar. 2008, Yr. 55, Vol. 43.

The exhibition of contemporary art is ‘Paradise Engineering,’ at the Wityanitat Gallery at Chula (8 Feb – 1 Mar 08). There is a large oil painting entitled ‘Land of Kwai, 2007,’ by Ing Kanchanawanich. It is a painting which uses very few colors, but is powerful, pulling, and greatly stimulating one to think. The artist reflects a picture of the country today with some vivid images of groups of demons and their contemporary disciples.

‘Demons,’ black and white, on two sides, are rolled and twisted together like evil demons from hell in ancient white fairy tales. The bodies are black, wrapped in blood-red suits. And there are little snakes, crawling, teeming, and increasing the disgusting character.
The master demon surveys the scene, facing his disciples, with his back to the viewer. In his right hand he holds up a round white light, brilliant and blazing, for the eyes of all the hundreds and thousands of disciples who stand or sit, naked, and making obeisance to the leader demon. Many have heads of buffalos; many have human heads, male or female, all seeming to be in a daze. Altogether, the event looks like hell. Flames can be seen leaping up in the background. But this hell isn’t just any place: it is our Thai hell. Many disciples wave Thai flags. On the top of the painting are the hand-written words :
‘When the lord demon tells them all that it is the power of the people, the masses throw themselves down in obeisance and worship the god.

Ing responded to Chatriya Nitypolprasert with a very interesting answer to the question about the source of this work. (Chatriya selected the works for this show.)

Ing: “…I saw that most people chose Samak Suntornvej – Thai Rak Thai in a new bottle – (after the Dec.23 election) - I really felt very sad and very tense. The feeling in Bangkok at that time –where people didn’t choose him- was very dark. How stunning it was that, when the evidence of corruption was so clear, the issue of the war on drugs – the killings – the people who chose Samak didn’t care.

Especially recalling the 6 Oct. incident, it is especially tragic. My earlier work (‘Land of Smiles’) didn’t express adequately what I felt, so I wanted to do this piece.

I am not showing contempt for those who voted, but in my feeling, we need a mirror which lets us see reality. People were willing to be tricked.
They believe the promises, the dreams created by demons, the tricksters, the politicians who check things out and then cheat and commit fraud. They reflect reality only in our feelings. Perhaps it’s prejudice, but it’s a prejudice felt by many who look at country folk as buffalos. However one puts it, we really do let them deceive us. That is what is so sad.”

Chatriya: “The question, upon seeing this work, must be with the image communicated and the information which appears. Does the master appear to prophesy?”

Ing: “I wanted the image to look like a huge newspaper political cartoon and I intended to use words as in scripture, about fights between justice and injustice; righteousness, unrighteousness, in the world, as more or less black and white.
I wanted the words to sound scriptural, but what I wrote, I created myself. I wanted the style to be sonorous, resonant.

Even though this picture is made with a gesture which refers to the recent election, the use of the words, ‘people-power’ isn’t intended to point to any particular person.
I was referring to anyone who uses democracy to trick the masses, who makes the people think that they will be given a voice, power, strength, ‘people’s power.’
The deception tells the people what they want to hear: creating the dreams they want to dream, i.e. ‘Paradise Engineering,’ i.e. propaganda.”

Chatriya: “Are you worried about how people will interpret the picture?”

Ing: “It’s up to them. My task is to only to make the picture. If a work is controversial, an argument resting on reason, analysis is good. Democracy is born from this. We have the right to express ideas and opinions – even if we show our ideas as prejudiced – we can speak directly. People generally have the right to perceive directly what we think of them. It is better than sitting and denying reality that we do have such feelings. Now I’m fed up with denying reality. I’m fed up with all this ‘unanimity’; it’s fake. Society cannot be cured if we don’t rid it of injustice.”

That last sentence is very interesting, i.e. that Ing spoke frankly:
“I’m fed up with the word ‘unanimous’ because it is fake. Society cannot be cured if we don’t rid it of injustice.”

In not too many days after the show opened, Prime Minister Samak Soontornvej responded to newspaper reporters from CNN with confidence about the 6 October, 1976 incident that, “As for me, I didn’t see anyone die except one unlucky fellow who was immolated at Sanam Luang.”

This is the most painful thing that one can say about those who were ‘victims,’ both innocent students and citizens, who were killed so cruelly, and to the relatives of heroes who never received justice out of this event. The words of Samak, which came so easily and irresponsibility, were very cruel to the hearts of these people. He spoke without concern for what people round the world (on CNN) will think of the lies of these sorcerers. He distorted the truth of history because he well knew that in Thai society, ‘Those with power are those who hold the truth.’

As to what Samak tells the people of the world about the October 6 event, there is nothing strange in this. Samak is like this: he never changes. Especially, there is Dr.Chalerm Yubamroong, who tries to pretty things up and help Mr.Samak out of the snare. So he adds some information that a policeman fired his gun and the story came out that a group had been killed, making these tales all the more interesting.

I’m not asking about ‘the October people’ in the People’s Power Party and the old Thai Rak Thai – where they stand on this, or how they are going to defend this. These politicians use the memory of the October history ‘as greatness,’ all of it ‘fresh and good.’ … There are no good deeds which need recalling or repaying. So, there is no use in trying to correct what we hear. What I am interested in is the listeners, especially listeners who voted for Samak as governor of Bangkok and as Prime Minister. I’d like to know what they thought.

It’s a shame that Thai mass media doesn’t work much. They just poke a microphone at Prime Minister Samak, but they don’t inquire into the feelings of the heroes – how do they feel? Not a week after the interview, CNN tried to get together the relatives of the dead heroes to give their opinions about this case. It did not appear in many newspapers – and not on a single TV channel – so you can see that those in power control the media. The pictures of 40 persons killed from the secret files of the public prosecutor and the tale of the sufferings of their families and those connected with the 6 October 1976 incident – none of this went out to the listeners who voted for Samak and the People’s Power Party.

Then in order to get this issue of Oct. 6 from the prime minister, a poll was quoted that looked into this matter, only to find that the people didn’t want to hear about Oct.6. but wanted the government to solve the problem of the economy first – that was primary. If you don’t call this the cleverness of demons, I don’t know what to call it.

In any case, I may be naïve for thinking that the ‘country folk’ (especially in Isarn and the North) didn't get the news fully and completely (like some academics who look at the world optimistically.) Otherwise, they wouldn’t have chosen Taksin and Samak as prime minister (so nastily).

The former leftists student leaders, those accused of the 6 October massacre in the People’s Power Party, and the former Thai Rak Thaicould cooperate politically with extreme rightists like Mr.Samak without hesitation. Some of them even came out making alibis for Samak, saying it’s just his way of talking that’s the problem.

That’s why all those country folk kowtow to the great satanic figures who claim they are the ‘force of the people.’

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