Community Vibes คุยกับคนรุ่นใหม่จากย่านนางเลิ้ง

เผยแพร่เมื่อ 4 months ago

Community Vibes: Conversations with Nang Loeng’s Next Generation, ‘Tuning’ the Community and Festival with Delightful Contemporary Art

The Nang Loeng District (also, Nang Lerng) is an ancient community with a long history and many interesting, yet overlooked stories. In the past, the neighborhood thrived with Nang Loeng Market being the first terrestrial market in Thailand. Nang Loeng is also renowned for its traditional Thai theater performances, with resident music teachers and drama groups coming together on various occasions. As time passed, however, the area’s significance began to fade. Questions arose as to how local residents can promote the charms of the old neighborhood and work together to develop the area while preserving its identity amid these changing times.

Bangkok Design Week invited Ms. Nawarat “Nammon” Welployngam, a youth leader from Nang Loeng District who has been driving community development through art for many years, to co-create “Community Vibes.” This ‘tuning’ process aims to bring the community and the festival in alignment, finding a point of convergence between traditional culture and contemporary art. Ms. Nawarat set a simple goal: to create designs for Nang Loeng that delight everyone, including the community, artists, and event-goers.


Learning from the Past & Developing the Present to Forge a Future for Nang Loeng

“Before I was born, Nang Loeng used to be a thriving neighborhood much like today’s Siam Square. The market never slept, operating day and night. We grew up with these stories. But darker times followed, with the market becoming desolate, administrative centers relocating, and beloved cinemas shuttering. I grew up in a family where my mother was a leader in the community. Most people in Nang Loeng were locals who knew each other well. When these changes occurred, the community rose up to fight for their homes in their own way. Everyone works for the community, as opposed to just heading home after work.

“There came a time when I began actively working in the community. Around 2007, we formed a group called E-Lerng, inviting both Thai and international artists to collaborate on projects, not knowing if Nang Loeng would remain or be demolished. The community tried to create social movements to make people feel nostalgic about Nang Loeng. Back then (over 10 years ago), people didn’t really get the idea of these community projects, but once these festivals were organized, community artists participated, and community tourism grew, they started to catch on. The younger generation began taking an interest in their community and became active citizens. Today, Nang Loeng’s future remains uncertain, but I think things are getting better. People are beginning to better understand the importance of old communities and that development and preservation must go hand in hand, learning lessons from many other communities. I don’t believe that Nang Loeng must stay the same, but that development should be accompanied by the conservation of certain aspects.”

Consequently, Ms. Nammon established the COMMUNITY LAB, an organization that creates social development art as an extension of E-Lerng. They’ve since enhanced an online and offline database management system to record the past, drive the present, and gather resources for the future. Ms. Nammon explained, “I work in the community, and I’m also an artist. I became interested in the gradually disappearing histories of each neighborhood and wanted to create a platform to assemble educational research data. For example, we use 3D scanning technology to record the traditional dance moves of Thai classical dance teachers, storing them for future reference. Anyone interested in projects related to traditional theater can come and study the data. We have a database of 12 dance moves that can be viewed in 360 degrees.”

Tuning’ Awareness between the Community and Contemporary Art

“Community Vibes” is an experimental program designed by Ms. Nammon, divided into three parts: Local Studio, COMMUNITY {art} LAB, and Immersive Exhibition.

“The first part, Local Studio, features a tour program to explore the nooks and crannies of the community, where participants can dine at local eateries and visit various artists’ workshops. Some artists were very interested in creating traditional theater pieces or in making traditional Buddhist altars. However, without community support, they might just visit, take their photos, and head back to work, creating pieces that don’t truly bring out their artistic ability. At the same time, their limited information wouldn’t truly capture the authentic culture of the community. Therefore, I wanted to create a program that ensures that the artworks are beneficial to both the artists themselves and the community, while also meeting the objectives of the festival.

“The second part, COMMUNITY {art} LAB, is an air-conditioned space supported by FREC Bangkok. After artists have been inspired, they can come here to work without disturbing the community, as most artists tend to work until late at night. Our primary goal is to attract young art professionals to join the project. Our first collaboration was with a group of students from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Chulalongkorn University. As we began to promote the project, several other universities in Thailand and abroad expressed interest in participating. This showed us that designers and artists need spaces like this to create higher quality work.

“The third part, Immersive Exhibition, is related to the first two parts. It involves displaying the artists’ works with input from the community. For example, when a group of artists walks into a slum and sees a house divided by curtains, they might be interested in telling that story. In this case, the exhibition should be near the COMMUNITY LAB to facilitate its organization. We help to ‘finetune’ the collaboration between artists and the community to avoid conflicts.”

More information:

Bangkok Design Week 2024

Livable Scape

คนยิ่งทำ เมืองยิ่งดี

27 Jan – 4 Feb 2024