‘Khaek Pai Krai Ma’: the story of Indian diaspora in Thailand

The latest exhibition of Chiang Mai-based artist Nawin Rawanchaikul

To date, Nawin Rawanchaikul is one of the most-prominent contemporary Thai artists. The Chiang Mai-based artists always recounts his Punjabi origin through his humour-filled works. And this latest exhibition, which took three years to create, is also about this cultural legacy.

Being teased and bullied as ‘Khaek’ (in Thai means Indian in origin or an outsider) since he was a young boy, Navin has carried out subtle investigations on the issues of the Indian cultural presence in Thailand and how the Thai society has perceived what he sees as the largest ‘Indian Diaspora’ in the Land of Smiles. Some Thais might consider Indian people in Thailand as ‘Khaek’ or outsiders, but ironically, the Indian culture has been subtly integrated in the Thai society for such a long time (as the artist puts it that Khaek are all around). So a new question emerges: what is really Thai?

‘Khaek Pai Krai Ma’ exhibition is an art project born from the artist’s research on the history of Indian migration to Thailand, with the highlight as a 30-metered long panoramic mural which portrays the Indian communities across Thailand. This time, Navin also created a Thai-style manga recounting the history of Indian diaspora and showcases the O.K. store, an iconic installation which is replica of the fabric shop of his family in Chiang Mai. The exhibition is on view at Warehouse 30 until 19 January 2020.

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