Black House Museum, Chiang Rai, Thailand

high-definition creative commons photographs from Chiang Rai, showing the architecture and artifacts in this complex built by the Thai National Artist Thawan Duchanee, together with further relevant information.

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Thawan Duchanee
image from Thawan Duchanee's website

The Black House (Baandam) Museum is a sprawling complex situated around 10km north of Chiang Rai that is being built and designed by the Thai National Artist Thawan Duchanee (b. 1939). The name is somewhat misleading as there are around 30 Black Houses at present and the intention is to build 42 in all (at aleast at present).

The buildings are in a variety of styles, but most have been made with the colour black predominant, even the few white buildings only serve to highlight the black doors and windows. Inside most of them, whether open or closed, are arranged various artifacts, so that the whole acts as a museum.

But it is a museum with a difference, as many of the objects are related to death or dying. There are skulls and skeletons, skins and broken eggs and there are some more traditional demons and gargoyles too. There is also, to be fair, some grand scene carving, some furniture and other collectors' pieces.

He is quoted as saying: “My whole ambition as an artist is to materialize the image of irrationality (lust) with the most imperialistic fury and precision so the world of imagination and conquered irrationality becomes an object of the same durability and with the same meaningfulness and communicable thickness as the external world of phenomenal reality. This illusion is the greatest insight of my feeling. What I try to say comes from motion in my soul. I use my work to suggest an overwhelming sense of motion through time and space. In my imagination and dreams, time and space become one; they vibrate with an irrational quality attributable to the dream although I know they have the original beat of reality. Artwork is my love made visible; it represents everything in the infinite universe materialized through my imagination.”

His work, as might be imagined in a conservative country like Thailand, has not always been gracefully received, and sometimes his works have been attacked and destroyed. Because of this he rarely exhibits his work anymore. But there is a Gallery attached to the Museum (unphotographed here), where his works are on display and for sale.

 

Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu

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