Find out what kind of superhero you are – and what danger that poses in an unjust world – at an interactive exhibition opening Friday at Bangkok’s WTF Gallery & Cafe.
While many of us worry about our battery levels or matching with someone on Tinder, nearly 400,000 Thais – including a disproportionate number of women – languish in dire prison conditions, often for minor drug offenses.
Not that the artists behind “Planet Krypton,” which runs tomorrow through June 2, want people to feel bad about this. They’ve designed a deceptively fun experience meant to stealthily provoke some empathy in a digital, attention-deficit generation.
Start atop the two-floor exhibition by hopping through what looks like an obstacle course – only to realize its disturbing implications halfway through. From there, it’s a gameshow-style scene where up to five people can line up behind pedestals to respond to questions on a wall-mounted video display.
The questions pose moral quandaries drawn from real life, such as what to do if you have no money to pay for your food, according to curator Somkra Sila. Step into the next room with your results to find out what hero that makes you before suiting up and taking selfies in the right costume.
Head downstairs and things take a turn. Those same qualities that defined your brand of heroism also set you on a perilous path of unintended consequences in a world where justice benefits the few at the expense of the many.
In a mirror universe metaphor for what came before, guests will learn of the prospective crimes and be exposed to what that can mean in a nation with the world’s sixth highest rate of incarceration. The experience ends with another opportunity to take a selfie – this time in an authentic Thai prison jumpsuit.
“It’s about the power of people whose lives have been disrupted to transform that into something positive,” Somrak said.
The project is a collaboration between gonzo artist Pisitakun Kuntalang and Prontip Mankong.
It’s the second exhibition for Prontip, who spent two years behind bars as a prisoner of conscience. Rather than being broken or angry by her experience, Prontip poured herself into bettering the lives of other women inmates to help them survive together.
Planet Krypton’s opening reception starts at 7pm on Friday at WTF Gallery & Cafe, located just off the arterial road in Soi Sukhumvit 51. The bar-gallery venue is about a five-minute walk from BTS Thong Lo.
WTF Gallery & Cafe
7 Soi Sukhumvit 51