BANGKOK — Anon Chawalawan was rather pleased with the fact that about 500 people visited the exhibition of political objects he collected after nearly a month on show. Looking at the objects, he was reminded that Thailand remains in a loop of political violence, however.
He said there is this Cold-War era metal bowl with an anti-communist message printed on it and then fast forward to the past few years, a white sleeve shirt with blood stain belong to anti-junta activist Sirawith Serithiwat.
“It’s as if we’re trapped in a loop of [political] violence,” Anon said.
To him, nothing could substitute visitors seeing the 1,000 real political objects he has been collected for nearly four years now under the project called Museum of Popular History. There is no such physical museum yet but the current exhibitions at a gallery in Bangkok means a hundred curated objects can be viewed by the public.
Beside the Cold-War era bowl, his other favorite piece on exhibit is a A4-sized placard from an anti-government cum monarchy-reform protest he collected from a young female protester at a protest site last year. The message written on it reads: “If politics is good, my mom would have a dishwashing machine already.”
“This is so meaningful,” Anon quipped. “It made us understand that the street protests between 2020 to 2021 is not something far removed from daily life.”
Despite the power of these objects in speaking directly to viewers, Anon, 37, admits that no public institutions or universities are collecting these valuable political objects.
“The state may collect them but only to use an evidence to lodge legal charges against protesters then they would likely discard them. Some books may be kept but as means of understanding anti-establishment groups but not to guard history,” Anon pointed out.
This means the task is left to him and during the past months, some visitors to the exhibition offer to donate more items to him despite the fact that establishing a physical Museum of Popular History is still a distant dream for not just Anon but Thailand.
The exhibit at Kinjai Contemporary runs until Mar. 27, 2022 from 11am to 7pm. Admission is free.