4 ways to get into queer art in Thailand
Thailand is a feast for the eyes. Its beauty extends from its tropical landscapes down to the warmth of its ubiquitous smiles. Unsurprisingly, the Kingdom’s arts are reflective of this charm: its creative traditions include crafts, ceremonial music and religious depictions – think shadow puppets and the intricate murals decorating Bangkok’s Grand Palace.
Adding to all of this, Thailand’s contemporary artists are gaining momentum internationally. At their forefront are LGBT+ creators such as Maitree Siriboon, whose photography explores queer identity amongst other things. Visiting Thailand soon? Find out where to get your queer culture fix below!
Bangkok’s art galleries
The capital’s many exhibition spaces are great places to look for queer art. Ultramodern YenakArt Villa, for instance, is known for showcasing thought-provoking work by artists across all genres and they celebrate LGBT+ makers: above-mentioned Maitree Siriboon exhibited here in 2016. A mere ten minutes by tuk-tuk from YenakArt, Kathmandu Photo Gallery has a decidedly queer and alternative outlook, displaying work that deals with questions of gender and identity. Though this isn’t strictly speaking an LGBT+ gallery, there is a noticeably ‘pink’ approach that comes as no surprise – gallery owner Manit Sriwanichpoom is known as Thailand’s ‘Pink Man’ for his comedic self-portraits showing him in a hot fuchsia suit!
Spectrosynthesis II at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (‘BACC’) boasts enormous exhibition rooms no less impressive than those of Berlin’s and New York’s most iconic museums – its interior reminds us of New York’s Guggenheim! Between November 2018 and March 2019, the space will be put to good (or shall we say gay?) use, hosting Asia’s biggest ever LGBT+ exhibition ‘Spectrosynthesis II’. The much-anticipated show will incorporate more than 200 works by fifty Asian artists, commenting on desire, belonging and acceptance. Head here to see works by India’s Sunil Gupta, Malaysia’s Anne Samat and Hong Kong’s Samson Young. Are you a fan of interactive art? Well, the exhibition will comprise of live performances and talks on LGBT+ subjects too!
Bangkok Screening Room
One of Bangkok’s most promising independent cinemas, ‘BKKSR’ remains a bit of an underdog attraction despite being rather trendy – and that’s a good thing! The small movie theatre has a private feel and gives exposure to work frequently ignored by mainstream cinemas. Its focus on art house films makes the Silom-based venue a hit with the city’s young creatives who come here in flocks (well, permitting screenings aren’t sold out). In 2018, BKKSR hosted its first ever LGBT+ film festival, a well-received six-day spectacle. Outside of this, the Screening Room has brought many other movies of LGBT+ interest to Thailand – from ‘Call Me by Your Name’ to ‘Whitney’. Speaking of the latter, Silom Soi 4’s gay bars are just fifteen minutes walking from here. Just saying.
Phuket Simon Cabaret
We know what you’re thinking, but hey – cabaret is an art form! In fact, seeing the Queens performing at this gem on Phuket’s entertainment scene rivals any good art history lesson: explore Gauguin’s colours, Warhol’s eccentricity and Pollock’s dynamism wrapped up in a bodacious, one-hour show! Whilst most visitors come for the fun element, do expect to be amazed by the lavish costumes and stage design. Most importantly, Simon Cabaret’s performers showcase a wide array of talents. There is elaborate choreography, a good dose of singing and, of course, truckloads of fierce theatricality! The ladies here really work hard and it shows off. Best of all, this drag cabaret prides itself on being family-friendly. What better way to get the kids to see some art?
Photography by Supanut Arunoprayote [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)]