Listen: I’ve been taking long walks through the city to try and rid myself of the doldrums and bad thoughts that too much time indoors can inspire. I’ve taken to taking my digital camera and a single 135mm lens along with me.
I began to wonder if I could find the essence of Bangkok in its details. If all of the small things could add up to one magisterial whole. It’s a work in progress that may never progress past what it is at the moment–a good reason to go outside and walk and try to see things a bit differently, to notice again all of the small and large scenes that often pass by unseen. But I’m enjoying it, counting steps and pointing my camera at so many clichés, occasionally finding something unique and worthwhile.
I barely recognized my apartment when I walked through the door three days ago. It felt more like walking into an old memory jogged loose. I was away for nearly 8 months, and being back is a bit jarring. Even after two weeks in state quarantine, it feels like I’m being eased into an older, forgotten life. And I’m still getting used to it.
I spent the better part of this year living an alternate reality and I’m still trying to remember everything I forgot about this one. There are books on my shelves I don’t remember buying. My refrigerator feels smaller. I can’t find things in the kitchen. Are these even my bedsheets? Where did I put all my Polaroids? There’s dust on the tabletops and even my hardiest succulents have given up their ghosts. I imagine some archeological digs are less confusing.
That being said, it’s nice to be back in Bangkok. It’s one small step toward normalcy, regardless of where the next steps may lead. I’m still gathering most of my thoughts, but I wanted to post something about being home. Or home-ish. It’s harder to tell these days.
These photographs were all taken before I left at the start of this year. But they feel a lot older than that now. Time capsules. Old memories jogged loose. So it goes.
I’ve been trying to keep a camera on me most days these days. Usually a small compact or something that fits snugly over my shoulder without adding too much weight or occupying too much thought while I’m out and about. More of a simple exercise in simply seeing the world. I’ve been trying to capture more movement, to see my surroundings more as a cinematographer might. Reading more film theory and editing concepts and trying to apply that to stills and street scenes from daily life. Studying rigid forms in an attempt to be a bit looser I guess, mostly with the belief that art is a kind of struggle in contrasts. Blah blah blah. So anyway, here are a few photographs from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Hong Kong. All shot on black & white film since the break of 2017.
Rehab is murky and sweaty and crowded with strange smelling men and chanting monks and stray dogs and everyone is drinking foul liquid to make themselves vomit at least once a day… Or at least that’s how it is at Tham Krabok temple, a few hours outside of Bangkok, Thailand. Known for a bit of a take-no-prisoners approach to cleaning up, the temple has been brewing up a secret concoction for detoxing via the purifying beauty of, well, throwing your guts up. The patients imbibe the foul, swamp colored liquid and then heave noisily into buckets and drains for the during of their stay. Ideally, they leave Tham Krabok changed in mind and body and free from the bondage of illicit substances. Apparently it works. And work brings freedom. Here are some tearsheets from a story I photographed at the prison. The writer recounts things with much more elegance, so alas. For now, we’ll have to do with a few pretty pictures of grown men puking.