Nigel Power & Juthamas Tangsantikul
November 13 – December 14 2014
(un)identified is a collaborative installation by two Bangkok-based artist-designers and academics. Prompted by unexpected finds during a period of research at the National Archive of Thailand, (un)identified explores ideas of gaps or fissures in the categorizing logic of an archive that point to new ways of looking at and thinking about relationships between past and present.
The central motif of (un)identified is the pairing of anonymous photographic portraits from the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Siam. One set are studio shots that seemingly aim to fashion the appearance of a noble elite; the other are shots of dishevelled and manacled men that claim anthropological and criminological contexts. Both sets exist as extra to the National Archive itself. The former belong to a type of non-category of individuals that the archivists have yet to identify, and the latter exist as items for sale on a table near the entrance.
(un)identified explores how their juxtaposition reflects contemporary problems of image, perception and control between spectacular power and violent disenfranchisement. Furthermore, to take these images from their archival limbo and foreground their coded implications suggests an apt metaphor for confronting issues that a society is not prepared to face about itself.
(un)identified allows visitors to take both an objective and immersive view of the various pairings. H Project Space has been divided into two rooms of front and back projections. Playing with scale and highlighting the images’ relationships and contradictions, one becomes aware of the artificial and forced creation of identities that are otherwise claimed as naturally or inevitably emerging from lineage.
Nigel Power is a British born and Bangkok-based artist, designer and academic. His artistic work has been exhibited widely in Thailand and Internationally. Power leads the MfA in Visual Communication at King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thailand.
Juthamas Tangsantikul is a Thai academic, designer and researcher. Her current research explores the social history of design in Thailand. Until recently Tangsantikul led the BA Communication Design at Chulalongkorn University.
An article on the project is available at academia.edu.