Subhuman – Komkrit Tepthian Solo Exhibition

SUBHUMAN – Komkrit Tepthian

The bloodless coup of 1932 was a turning point in Thailand’s history that ended almost 800 years of absolute monarchy. King Prajadhipok (Rama VII) was forced to adopt a constitution and submit to the people’s rule that led to the establishment of modern Thailand and beginning the civilian-military rivalry for control of the government of Thailand. Since then, Thailand has had twelve successful coups, and many more coup attempts; more than enough for multiple lifetimes.

In SUBHUMAN, Komkrit delves into a culture driven by grand narratives, the ruling elite, where the local narratives, the ordinary people are overpowered and usurped into one universal scheme, plutocracy (government by the rich) and cronyism (benefits for the rich only). This oppression evokes biases and wrong perceptions of individuals, in concert with the social stratification widening socio-economic disparities; where the middle class was nothing to speak of, and the poor were the majority. But, like the rest of the world, rising literacy of the populace and rise of the social media in Thailand, are few of the tipping points that begin to crack the veils blinding the masses. The unhappiness at the status quo due to the increasing awareness of Western ideologies, democracy, nationalism, and communism, coupled with the mismanagement by the absolute monarchy and the deteriorating economic conditions, triggered the 1932 revolution. Since then, many coups came and went. The 1970s coups that inspired students of that day to take a stand and demand greater say and democracy and the subsequent coup of student massacres and extrajudicial killings were the most discoursed in the history of modern Thailand, which influenced Komkrit’s art and believe. The current status in Thailand, motivates and expresses the ethos of his artworks in this series; hope for ripples of change that will reverberate the nation, rallying for change, rallying against the grand narratives to a new turning point in Thailand’s history.

Today, Thailand has a new King, King Vajiralongkorn (Rama X). Still, one important lesson learnt is that people tend to forget and are easily manipulated. When enthusiastic Thais joined the coup in 1932, they believed that they were doing it “for Country”. Today, whoever the “ruling elite” is, wants Thais to think that they should do it “for Democracy” to preserve the system. It sounds different and yet very familiar.

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