Exhibition and Performance
@ Baan Rim Nam
Bangkok Design Week,
Henrietta Moore: “the future learning will not be about the transferability of whole models with known outcomes, but rather about incomplete learning, experimentation and collaboration.”
Monumentally Automatic is an installation built in two weeks and in collaboration with ten of the most iconic characters and shop owners in old neighbourhood of Talat Noi, Bangkok.Talad Noi is one of the most charming district in Bangkok as it still remain immersed in local traditions and lifestyle despite the city’s unceasing pace of development towards modernity. The neighbourhood remains almost hidden, in between the narrow streets where “Sieng Gong” shops are set in garages or private homes. These shops are the soul of the neighbourhood, selling second hand machine parts around the globe. Sieng Gong are urban pockets for re-usable industrial parts which are welded in the middle of the streets, in houses which are turned into storages or abandoned garages.
These places are statuary rooms - apparently frozen yet relentlessly changing, passing on the knowledge to recognize the mechanical parts between generations but also as a system of integration - since the majority of those who do this work are half Thai and half Chinese. Each Sieng Gong has at least 25000 pieces which are accumulated and preserved into a mountain of mechanical parts. From the outside it looks like a landscape of heterogeneous metallic piles, where the layers of these piles can be seen as the constructed timeline of the neighborhood’s history.
The growth of “Sieng Gong” started in the aftermath of the Second World War and it has always been a controversial establishment with harsh and unhealthy living conditions. Even today these shops continue to be hidden and almost forgotten.
Monumentally Automatic wants to emphasize the importance of these people, practices and places, which should be considered as identitarian for Bangkok’s past and future. We approached the oldest sellers and we involved them in cataloging and untangling their mountains in order to build a public catalog of all these pieces. The installation was a collective process of assembling pieces together with a final auction where for the first time they came to explain their story and share their hard work, selling the parts not as mechanical fragments but as art pieces. The first act of this projects, initiated during the BkkDW2020, ultimately aims to highlight the nature of Sieng Gong as a spontaneous cultural lab, where the sellers, by relentlessly performing their daily routines, become unconscious yet active crafters of a collective, peculiar, iconographical palimpsest.
Directed and curated by