series of black and white portraits of Thailand's leading visual artists
is far more than a collection of happy-snaps of artists posing with their
What's in your face? What's in your face, shoved
through the camera in my face,
Manit has come a long way from his early days as
a front-line photo-journalist, dodging bullets to take shots (photo's
that is) on the Thai-Cambodian border in 1982,
InYour Face'takes a typical Manit-style approach
to his subject matter - photo portraits of contemporary Thai visual artists.
"I don't want to use the same format of elements
I explored before," explains the 41-year old telescopic trickster.
"I thought, why don't I just use artist's bodies to tell a story? Push their bodily gestures more than ever. Not just the face, but the whole entity to reflect their personality, their work," he adds.
And that's exactly what he's done. Not one to shy
away from controversy, Manit's work breaches many social taboos, and if
art is a hanuner to smash the world with,
"If art is a hammer to smash the world with, then Manit's taking a pneumatic drill to Thailand's cultural conventions."
In fact, the theme of trying to make sense of society
and the world we inhabit, is one of Manit's key exploratory themes.
Many themes of Manit's work trace back to the days
before he was an established artist - especially his work as a photojournalist
and it's influence on his earlier work.
As an ardent social activist, Manit has organised
several public art projects and demonstrations.
His work has always had a political or controversial
edge, including that which first propelled him to international fame,
However, it is his creation, Pink Man, that he is most commonly associated with.This project, now inimortalised in four different series, and another Metm cover back in October 1998, was modelled by artist and friend, Sompong Tawee.
"Pink Man is my upset and alienated feeling towards the concept of consumerism which has been accepted simply and without consideration by Thai society," he says. "In addition, I intentionally use the colour Pink to subvert the aesthetics of local art."
So back to InYour Face, where he proves that photography
is slowly but steadily gaining the recognition it deserves as an art form
in its own right.
For his latest exhibition, Manit has chosen some
of the most exciting people from Thailand's contemporary art scene,
One person that Manit fondly remembers shooting
is Michael Shaowanasai, a multidisciplinary artist who works with gay
Artist Kaniin Lerchaiprasert's snap is a closeup image of the artist with his eyes closed as if in an introspective stance.
"They seem no different from village idiots
and lunatics who do weird shit around traffic lights. I'm not saying that
?artists are lunatics'.
"His works always deal with Buddhist philosophy, and initially I had a bit of difficulty thinking about how I was going to shoot him. But during our discussion, I looked at his face and there is a silent yet strong expressiveness and so during the session, I ask him to meditate, which he did, and I just captured that."
This time, the artists' egos go out the window
as Manit forces, er... encourages them to play with their inner psyches.
Some have to be naked, others perform in front of the camera, while the
rest end up presenting themselves in previously unconcievable ways.
"It will be the strangeness of their poses
that is remembered rather than their faces," he muses. "They
seem no different from village idiots and lunatics who do weird shit around
Reflecting on his career, Manit fondly reveals, "My first photographic exhibition was back in 1982 and in reaching this stage, I'm happy people are finally acknowledging my aspiration because, you know, my work is mostly dealing with political and social issues and they are all very hard subjects.
"It's been a long joumey and at least it confirms that I am in the right direction and that's enough."