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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

BACC – Gays and a Grownup Traveller

Days 786-787

A day of rest and then off to Bangkok's Art and Culture Centre where Exhibitions of the LGBTQ and #GrownUpTraveller meet.

After our afternoon with Hudson and still not feeling 100%, we had a day of rest on Saturday. I caught up with writing and relaxed to a great guided healing meditation for stomach pain - hey, I'm up for anything. We also sorted out bags out, discovering that we'd been hoarding small plastic bags for some reason. Then we planned what we will do before my next Hospital appointment on Friday. We want to escape Bangkok for a few days.

Day 787 we went to the Art and Culture Centre. This place has had quite a journey to be open. The idea began in 1995 with the Bangkok governor starting a project called "the art centre". But as often happens in politics, this was halted by the new governor in 2001 as he wanted the space for commercial use. With artists, cultural supporters, and media banding together to oppose this decision and yet another new governor in 2004, the project was back on track. Finally, in 2008, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) was officially opened.

Even before we entered the building, we spent time looking at art installation as part of the Jaras Project, raising awareness of alternative energies through works of art. We expect it looks fantastic at night time. I loved the "Red Heart" by Krit Ngamsom, which is a 2 m steel heart installation with car lights inside, which illuminates using solar-cell panels.

The leading exhibition at the BACC was Spectrosynthesis II­– Exposure of Tolerance: LGBTQ in Southeast Asia exploring differing sexual preferences and gender identities. This subject was quite apt as I am reading a fascinating book "We are our brains" by Dick Swaab. I have just finished the chapters on sexual differentiation of the brain in the womb where the Dutch professor of neurobiology informs us that hormones or chemical substances in the uterus or structural orientation and functional differences in the brain affect the development of the baby's sexual orientation. A person doesn't choose to become heterosexual, gay or transgender; they are born that way.

The theme focused on various aspects of LGBTQ experience in SE Asia. The artists share what it is like to grow up in society if your sexual preference and gender is not the norm. This can result in tension, both personally, culturally, politically and religiously. In Bangkok, we have seen many gay and transgender people. Yet, across the border in Malaysia, gay and transgender are not tolerated, and vigilante executions still happen in the 21st century!

The artists have created a dialogue of these issues, highlighting that boundaries are shifting and suggest rather than struggle to be "normal", why not celebrate being different. Amen to that. We are all unique.

One of the artworks that intrigued me was "Butterfly" by Christina Quisumbing Ramilo. It was a simple, yet effective idea where she had installed a clothes rack and displayed a selection of garments she had worn from the age of 1 to present-day showing the transformation she has undergone; pretty frilly dresses change to floaty dresses and then there was a marked contrast to plain shirts and trousers to mainly black outfits. "It's very revealing, and it makes me feel vulnerable because I'm exposing myself," she said.

Michael Shaowanasai controversial photograph titled "Portrait of Man in Habit #1" caused an uproar within the Buddhist community. It showed a man dressed in Buddhist robes but with his make-up fit for a night on the town. The artist is a practising Buddhist as well as being gay and questions why a hermaphroditic person is deemed not human, so cannot enter as a monk. With the advancement in neurobiology, shouldn't religious leaders question some of the beliefs made when there was a misunderstanding in the past about sexual differences?

It was a fabulous exhibition; challenging perceptions. I hope it opens up much dialogue so that we all should have the same human rights whatever our sexual gender or preference.

We walked down the steep slope to the next exhibition. The remit for the building, designed by local architects Robert G. Boughey and Associates was to create a structure that reflects the energy of Thai culture and architecture. It required flexible use of space, accommodating for various cultural genres and making optimum use of the high, airy centre and natural light.

We entered the next exhibition "Photos Wonderland" by H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, the sister of the King of Thailand. She must have been having some grownup travelling in 2018 to 2019 as the exhibition showed many photos of her travels in Europe, Peru. Australia as well as Thailand. Funny enough, she was at the Moray Inca ruin a couple of weeks after us! I wonder if any of our photos will be included in an exhibition one day.

#BACC #BangkokArtandCultureCentre #PhotosWonderland #SpectrosynthesisII­ #PortraitofManinHabit1 #LGBTQinSEAsia #ButterflyChristinaQuisumbingRamilo

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