I stumbled upon the idea for this article through a chain of coincident. There is a networking event for people from the tourist industry in Bangkok, held on every last Thursday of the month, called the “Thirsty Thursday”. Usually, I do not join these events, despite the promise of free food or booze, because I am not a good “networker”. I just don’t feel confident and comfortable handing out name cards to all kinds of people, who are mainly just there to…well…hand out name cards.

But this time I went. I enjoyed a few drinks and some food and even enjoyed some conversation. On my way out, I was a bit intoxicated and I just grabbed a copy of a magazine I had not much heard of before called “Bangkok 101″. It’s kind of a lifestyle magazine. I am not really a lifestyle magazine reader (and here is the next coincidence). But I browsed through it and found an article about a photo exhibition called “Lost in paradise”. I was actually fascinated by it. So fascinated that I went to see this exhibition and the “strangeness” of the photos really got to me.

Another coincidence is that the gallery was not too far from my home. Although I am not really an art aficionado (you must think horribly of me by now, I guess), I decided to give it a try. The photographs by Lek Kiatsirikajorn really touched me in a strange way. They are hard to describe, obviously taken in and around Bangkok in strangely deserted places, overgrown with greenery.

Weerapat Srivichien, originally from Ayutthaya Province. Picture:Rama-9-Bangkok

That is kind of very appealing, showing how nature takes back man made structures after they have been deserted. But what makes these pictures even more special –in a kind of morbid way- are the people, who are depicted in them.

Workers, men and women, who left their homes to find a job and a better life in the big city…and who ended up as much “deserted” as the buildings and cars in the pictures.

It would have been very easy to turn this into a real “accusation”  of an exhibition that just showed people living in the dirt…and there you have a social pamphlet. Khun Lek didn’t do any of that and the pictures are not just pointing fingers at despair. That’s what makes this exhibition so remarkable in my eyes.

The people in these pictures have an aura of dignity and sadness and as they are obviously poor, they are not looked down at. They are simply part of the bizarrely beautiful composition of jungle and wasteland with skyscrapers in the background.

Tongleang Kaewsai from Yasothon Province. Picture: Pattanakarn, Bangkok

Although I was aware that I was looking at something that is real, I could not shake that strange “these are scenes from science fiction movies” feeling. All I can say is this is a fascinating study about cities and people. If this exhibition intrigues you, go to the Kathmandu Gallery, which is located in Thanon Pan, a Soi off of Silom (at the Indian Temple or Wat Kaek).

The pictures will be on display until April 27th.