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Why is the River Laughing? Bangkok Design Week, Thailand, 2023

“Why is the River Laughing?” is a dive into urban histories, communities, and ecologies, to explore the importance of local waterways in the Bangkok old town area. The project includes Exhibition, Workshop, and Performance programs, with local and international artists, researchers, students, community members, and public participants.


The project is based at the historic So Heng Tai Mansion, a 240-year-old Chinese Mansion in the heart of Talat Noi. The mansion becomes a strange klong (canal), with its swimming pool in the center courtyard, a wooden boat for cooking noodle soup, performers with mobile sculpture, sound and video art, workshops, and street actions in the surrounding neighborhood.


Envisioned as a research residency or creative development lab, the project will change and evolve over the 9-day period of BKKDW, including activities in Nang Loeng, Sampeng, and Talat Noi. WORKSHOPS – 4 workshop sessions explore creative techniques for social transformation in complex urban settings. Participants may join one or more of the 4-hour sessions. Each workshop focusses on different activities, with common themes developed across the series. Activities over 4 days include: cultural and historical perspectives, mapping lost canals, So Heng Tai house tour with family owner, community storytelling and local knowledge, creative development with artists and researchers, participatory street actions, collective recipes, sonic food-art lunch, creating design fictions and design games, and movement techniques for site-specific performance.


Artist facilitators – Michael Hornblow, Stephen Loo, Marnie Badham, Sineenadh Keitprapai, Adam Nocek, Ploy Kasama Yamtree, and others… All workshops will be given in English, with Thai translation available. For details on content, schedule, facilitators, and other programs (Exhibition, Performance),


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Kindly supported by The Center for Philosophical Technologies at Arizona State University, University of New South Wales, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, the School of Global Studies and the Faculty of Fine Arts at Thammasat University. Thanks also to Bangkok International Performing Arts Meeting (networking, advice), So Heng Tai (venue), Somchai Kwangtongpanich (local historian), and community collaborators in Talat Noi and Nang Loeng.

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