Thai photographer Kamonlak Sukchai, known for her collage work and her exploration of Southeast Asian folklore and its influence on history, national identity, religious beliefs and sexual methodology, returns with a new exhibition titled Blue Fantasy.
Blue Fantasy is a series that showcases vibrant collages of photographs, letters, and historical documents, all intertwined to reflect the complex layers of social inequality and the perception of the royal family. Her work questions history, which has shaped our identities and senses, and argues that since history has been manipulated, our senses have been controlled and oppressed due to the political lies we live under.
Kamonlak’s artistic argument in Blue Fantasy is akin to Greek philosopher Plato’s The Allegory of the Cave, a concept that contemplates the nature of belief versus knowledge. In the allegory, a group of prisoners are led to believe that the shadows they see on the wall are real, but in reality, they are merely shadows of puppets. In essence: prisoners are controlled by the false narratives concocted by their oppressors. Kamonlak’s work emphasizes that we are brought up within a similar cave, only seeing shadows of social justice and equality through fanciful narratives by those who hold political power in Thai constitutional history. The photographer has shifted such power to the governed to re-create their own history in order to establish their personal senses of selves. Along these lines, she has become the “history portrayer” by constructing her own anecdote where the key historical characters’ roles have been replaced with the anonymous faces of her own family members. The collage is combined with a blend of local folk tales, literature, dreams, and family history.
Her artistic research and creation at her home in Ratchaburi, where all her family members are involved, seek to ask an important question: how do the oppressed prisoners in Plato’s cave break free from their given history and become the masters of their own individual stories?