OBSCENE / HOLY MACHISMO
Photographic series by
This provocative photo series by Manit Sriwanichpoom, Thailand’s best known photo-artist in the international art world, comprises two different sets, ‘Holy Machismo’ and ‘Obscene’.
‘Holy Machismo’ (2011) consists of semi-abstract black and white photographs of traditional Thai lingams, fertility symbols widely used as sacred offerings for prosperity. These extreme close-ups of sacred dildo’s are sometimes sharply defined and at times blurry; now brightly lit, now dark and looming: arrogant black snakes leaping to freedom or Darth Vader the Dark Lord himself. Manit says they reflect a newly 50 year old man’s (his own) creeping sexual insecurity as he contemplates his balding head.
‘Obscene’ (2012), on the other hand, are Baroque nudes, Caravaggio-esque, highly- charged saturated colour photographs that reflect the garish realities of present-day Thai politics: the administration and its supporters, drunk on power, trumpet the Name of Democracy, painting themselves as self-sacrificing heroes, defenders of idealism and freedom, bringers of justice to this benighted land.
Though inspired by different ideas, the two series fit well together, since ‘Holy Machismo’ and ‘Obscene’ both spring from the masculine (yang) vices of greed and lust.
Manit Sriwanichpoom, is one of Thailand’s leading photo-artists, and the best known in the international art world, having exhibited worldwide including in the Centre Pompidou (Paris, 2010), the Asia Pacific Triennial (Australia, 2009), Photoquai (Paris, 2007), Gwangju Biennale (Korea, 2006), the Venice Biennale (2003), Photo Espana (2001), the Hayward Gallery (UK, 1999) and Bienal de Sao Paulo (1998). His solo shows include ‘Phenomena & Prophecies’ at the Singapore Art Museum (2010); ‘Lambs of God’ at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (Melbourne, Australia, 2008); ‘Bangkok in Pink’ at the Yokohama Museum of Art (2002) and ‘Man in Pink’ at Galerie VU’, Paris (2007). His works are collected by the Maison Europeenne de la Photographie (Paris), the DG Bank (Germany), the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (Japan), the Queensland Art Gallery (Australia), the Singapore Art Museum and well known private collectors. In 2002 he was picked as one of the world’s 100 most interesting emerging photographers by Phaidon Press in their book BLINK. In 2007 he was awarded the Higashikawa Overseas Photographer Prize from Japan. www.rama9art.org/manit_s