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The Will to Remember

Artist: Charinthorn Rachurutchata
Year: 2021
Country: Thailand
Video Duration

Video duration: 06:25

‘Kintsugi means come together with gold. It’s an ancient Japanese art of repairing ceramics using lacquer, gold leaf and powdered gold to bring together the pieces of broken pottery item and at the same time enhance the break. As a Zen Buddhism philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object. The scars emphasize the beauty of breaks and imperfection cherish as unique and precious. As a modern psychology therapy, it’s the metaphor of healing trauma, says that our scars are not to hide, but to accept and display with pride.’ 

At dawn on 6 October 1976, the military and royalist civilians committed a massacre at Thammasat University, where thousands of students are holding demonstrations against the return of former dictator Thanom Kittikachorn. At least 46 people were killed and over 3,000 were arrested. The military seized power that evening. To date, the military and the monarchy never held any accountable to the massacre or have publicly acknowledged the mass killing.

For decades, memories of the 6 October 1976 massacre remained foggy in Thai people. Under tight control of the military government with monarchy as the head of the state, the narrative of national history has been fabricated, the massacre unmentioned in classroom or textbook, the younger generation has never seen, remembered or learned about them. Memories and history of the massacre become silence and stay largely only in the shadows.

At night on 10 August 2020, following 6 years under another military coups,thousands of students gathered at Thammasat University showed the film of 6 October 1976 massacre with a song composed by King Bhumibol playing alongside to protest to the military government of General Prayuth Chanocha and demand for the reform of monarchy. Silence has been broken after decades through the current youth-led pro democracy protest determine to ‘Let it end in our generation’.  

The Will to Remember is a research-based photography series working with an ancient Japanese art of repairing ceramics ‘Kintsugi’ on archive photographs from the 6 October 1976 massacre and my personal abstract and documentary on the legacy of massacre in the youth protest. As a younger generation, living through 3 military coups over the cours of life, it is my will to confronting and remembering Thai’s hidden traumatic history, to search for understanding the root to present day political crisis, in order to reconstruct for a hopeful future.

Dwell in the journey of seeing light through the cracks. I server the images as imitating of hate and violence, then mends their breaks with gold to piece together hope into the future. The meditative healing process of ‘Kintsugi’ brings me an acceptance to the past. The golden scar drawn on the images illustrate the resilience to forces suppressing knowledge and memory of those responsible wanting it forgotten and the possibility of a future that is stronger and more beautiful once we overcome the political crisis and also symbolize an act of transforming hope through trauma.

The project was produced in the frame of Prince Claus Fund Partnership Network Program June-October 2021. Mentored byEmin Özmen/Magnum Photos and Cloé Kerhoas.

The program was implemented by Tbilisi Photo Festival in a partnership with Tbilisi Photography & Multimedia Museum funded by Prince Claus Fund within the Partnership Network Grant Program.

 

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