No shopping centre please, we're art lovers!
Protesters rally to save plan for Bangkok art museum
Tadu Contemporary Arts gallery is set to be the venue for a major protest activity entitled ``I want an art museum, not a shopping centre'' from April 3 to 11 as artists and art lovers, art teachers and students, academics and art lovers in general converge to rally in support for the Bangkok Contemporary Art Museum.
The concept of the museum was conceived by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) under governor Pichit Rattakul to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of His Majesty the King's accession to the throne in 1996. The architectural design was approved, the construction bid process completed, and the foundation stone laid on May 7, 2000.
And yet everything has come to a standstill with the arrival of new BMA governor Samak Sundaravej, who felt that the BMA did not have enough money to finance the project, despite the fact that his predecessor had already allocated a budget for it. Governor Samak reviewed the project, turning it around into a long-term concession, which would allow the private sector to invest in, and profit from, the construction of a shopping centre and car-park.
Since last year, art lovers and activists, under the banner of the Artists' Network led by Chumpol Apisuk, Varin Tiemcharas and singer Surachai Chantimathorn, have been joining hands to protest what they believe to be a major catastrophe to the understanding and advancement of art in Thailand. Over a period of three months, from August to October, these art lovers got together and produced over 4,000 pieces of art which were then pieced together into a four-kilometre art work (the world's longest), and paraded along the streets to the BMA offices on November 4, constituting the first time in Thailand that art has been directly used as a public medium for protest.
"These 4,000 pieces of art are unsigned and nameless, but carry great historical weight,'' said Chumpol who is spearheading the campaign to reinstate the art museum. "We have selected 150 to 180 pieces, categorised as outstanding and excellent, to be framed and exhibited. Many other good pieces will be made into unique `art bags'; each piece will be one of a kind. They will be sold for 200 baht each, while the outstanding framed pieces will be sold for 2,000 baht each. The ten most excellent works will be auctioned off with a starting price of 5,000 baht.''
Proceeds will be used to prepare a series of 12 newsletters, the first of which will be published on April 3, and also to initiate a legal process through the Administrative Court, and to conduct further awareness activities among students and the general public.
According to Varin Tiemcharas, who is in charge of the legal aspect of the protest, art has been a mirror of life through the ages. "Art relates the story of each period of history, and is therefore a living thing.''

Article from Bangkokpost Newspaper