A breath of fresh air

An former air con repairman from Tak is attracting attention for his debut photo exhibition exploring the nature of childhood

There was a lot of nervousness and awkwardness during the interview when photo-grapher Nipon Indraridh recalls his background _ the simple life before he got a break to showcase his first photography exhibition in a top Bangkok gallery. A college dropout, a former air conditioner repairman and a father of two whose obsession with photography made him lose a chance to bond with his first-born daughter during her early years _ Nipon views his art with a mix of humility and passion. His honesty was clear in his words, and the Tak native's accent is clear. His frankness, however, shows even more in the photographs now on show at Kathmandu Photo Gallery.

When gallery owner Manit Sriwanich-poom got a phone call from the ambitious 35-year-old photographer from the North last year, Nipon asked for a chance to exhibit his works.

When Manit saw Nipon's images, he was impressed with the skill. But it was his unconventional perspectives and the guts to take risky shots that convinced Manit to show the work.

In the ensuing solo exhibition "Fairytale", Nipon presents a collection of black and white pictures taken with a film camera that captured children in different gestures and atmospheres. Before the show premiered last Saturday, Nipon sat down with Life and opened up about his work.

This is your first show, can you tell us more about yourself?

In the brochure, curator Manit said that I'm an air con repairman, which is partially true. I used to repair air conditioners, and sometimes I fixed the curtains at people's homes. But I don't do that any more. I now run a business and also own an apartment for rent. My biography only requires a few lines.

I always thought that when I had a chance to exhibit my works, it should be done by my effort _ not by connections. I came to Bangkok as a nobody with photographs in my hands. I knew Manit as a famous artist, but we never knew each other personally before. I just wanted to know what he thinks about my works.

So you just called him up?

Nipon Indraridh.

I called him and I remember I was being so blunt during the conversation. I told him I have works to show you, but I have no profile as a photographer. I didn't get a degree in photography from abroad. I didn't take any classes in photography. I remember he said, 'No problem. Just come to the gallery'.

When I visited him at the gallery, it took him so long to look over my photos that I was afraid that he might not be interested. I was so surprised when he said yes.

Have you ever asked him why he agreed to show your work?

Not really [laughs]. Although I asked him whether he wanted to change his mind about showing my work because I was afraid that my low profile may disturb the reputation of the gallery.

Can you tell us about the show, "Fairytale"?

There are 34 images that tell experiences of childhood that have been taken during the past three years.

I need to give fully credit to Manit and Ing K [who also runs the gallery] for this concept. I took photos of all kinds of moments, however, I happened to take a number of pictures of kids. Manit picked up the story from my overall collection and gave the name 'Fairytale' for it, which I really like a lot.

Originally, I wanted to name it 'I Am Becoming A Child Every Day', but I felt that it was too long and didn't go well with the photos. When Manit suggested 'Fairytale', I thought it was precise yet left room for imagination.

You talked a lot about your kids and your exhibition is about children. Why did you choose them as your subject?

Childhood represents experience. The lives of grown men seem to be framed with experiences they value, while children live their lives more freely, with less complications.

For example, look at the picture where there are three boys holding a rope, trying to pull the boat up to the shore. You can look at it simply as a nice picture, or if you look carefully you can see that one of them is pulling the rope in the opposite direction from the others, which doesn't help pull the boat up. I intentionally captured this moment to challenge my audience that if you just simply look at it as a beautiful picture, that means you experience it like a child where there is nothing right or wrong. But if you try to question, or apply reason to, what is in the picture, you are experiencing it like an adult.

What was the main challenge of this exhibition?

Throughout my journey as a photographer, what I am always afraid of is repeating the same styles or angles. Sometimes I blame digital cameras for allowing the photographer to reach his limit easily. It's like you can keep on pressing your shutter every second. I do have similar works taken by digital camera but I am not showing them. This exhibition has only film works.

Luckily, I have no problem taking pictures of kids or strangers, even though I don't really consider myself a 'friendly' person.

Now that your first show is here, have you started to think of projects for the future?

I'm thinking now that in my next exhibition I want audiences to question my photographic skills. I want to come up with a challenge against traditional photography. If I compare myself to a poet, this work is like I am writing proper verse, but in my next work I'll show them how to write free-form poetry.

"Fairytale" is on until Aug 11 at Kathmandu Photo Gallery on Pan Road. Call 02-234-6700 or visit www.kathmandu-bkk.com

Related search: Tak

About the author

Writer: Yanapon Musiket
Position: Life Writer