Aesthetic Politics.

I believed I could make blogging/ writing a more consistent habit in my daily life on top of my rituals of going to the gym and reading.

But I have failed so spectacularly.

Today, I try to revive this habit again.

There was one painting that has been embedded in my subconscious, an image that recurs in my mind even in my daily life, it is

thai
The Bureaucracy System, Jittagarn Kaewtinkoy

Why?

For the longest of times, I have loved the studying of politics, the learning of how the state functions, how things run in countries and between countries and studying the trickle down impact of politics to their people.

Then there was art, another interest of mine, it was a beautiful subject I partake from afar, I was aware of my aesthetic boundaries , knowing that the only meaningful creation I could give to the art was my interpretation. (I could not even draw a straight line to save my life)

So, when “In the Loop” by Jittagarn Kaewtinkoy came about in the Gilman Barracks. I was blown away.

The room was white-washed, its paint was fresh and pristine, complementing the smorgasbord of colours that overwhelmed my sight. It was a psychedelic experience, where I felt my consciousness explode. The unblemished white wall, coupled with the clinical smell of fresh paint juxtaposed with the “colourful” politics of Thailand, created a disconcertingly surgical experience.

So out of the entire “self-guided” tour, with 15 masterpieces there to bombard me, I shall talk about my favourite one.

 “The Bureaucracy System” was a jewel.

Apart from its surreal aesthetic which I really appreciated (the masterful use of colours, tones and contrast), it was the symbolic meaning of art that appealed to me.

Since the end of absolute monarchy with the Siamese Revolution in 1932, Thailand has had 18 coup attempts, with some failing and some succeeding. It is one of the most coup-prone countries. There had been 12 successful military takeovers, with violent political strife as its catalyst.

The latest round in 2013-14, saw chaotic street riots, corrupted politicians spewing out false promises in their campaigns and once again, a military takeover after a frenzy of an election impeded by protesters.

Revolution: where people fought because they believed that it was going to be a turnaround in politics, a systemic change in a broken system.

Yet, in Thailand, revolution is indeed just a turn a round, an indefinite cycles of chaos marking disorder as the cornerstone of Thai politics.

The beauty about art is that there is more than meets the eye.

The first impression of this piece suggests an impending doom, an ominous sign that as the military leader (with the head of the skull) takes charge, Thailand will see itself in further chaos.

Yet, the artwork itself points to not just the gloomy politics of Thailand but the cyclicity of it.

The medium of the X-ray complementing the military ceremonial suit presents an image of anonymity, that the leaders who conducted the coups are not cults of personalities but replaceable and faceless individuals who could carry on the work of their predecessor.

While the stripes of colour could be interpreted as fanciful lies that these leaders tell to retain their political clout, it reminds the audience of the garbled colours that we see when our television experiencing static displaying no signals, once again, highlighting that these lies have been repeated too much to mean anything significant in the lives of the Thais.

 

Image result for no signal tv
Static Signal on a useless channel.

 

The picture then tells a powerful narrative that I believe to be true to what Jittagarn meant to portray.

To top it off, the irony and satire seeps through the title of “The Bureaucracy System” as the image directly contradicts the meaning of the term and is masterful in highlighting the dysfunctional Thai politics where a bureaucratic system is run by the military and not the politicians.

Therefore, the true destructiveness of Thai politics lies beyond mere chaos but embedded within the endless and cyclical chaos holding no end in sight. 

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