Ideas of Curiosity · Stories

‘Don’t just document: make art’: photographer Benjamin Nwaneampeh

One of my favorite photographers in the world agreed to talk with me about the art of making street photos, back in 2018. I loved that conversation. It was so, so fun and delightful. S P A C E makes space for that kind of conversation–it meanders, flows, and is a sort of exchange that you wouldn’t have any way of guessing what the outcome would be, from the start. I met the artist whom I got to know over instagram then in person, then I asked if I could talk with him for a bit and maybe even record it. It was my first foray into ‘podcasting’. I didn’t get too far, to be honest. I felt less and less interested in hearing my own voice but yeah, the people that I’m lucky enough to get to meet, wherever I go in the world (or surf online) are quite fascinating, at moments like the one in this conversation you can see… how… artists… think. Wait. Think is the wrong word. Feel. [deleted]

In this frank conversation between Design Kompany’s Dipika Kohli and portrait photographer Benjamin Nwaneampeh, we talk about how to get started, the culture of wanting things *now*, equipment, style, the city, and the art of peoplewatching.

 

‘Forget what people are telling you what street photography *is*,’ says Nwaneampeh. ‘Just go out and take photographs. If you like your pictures, and you feel you’re maturing, you’re growing in it, then just keep doing it. Just keep shooting.’

 

You can listen to it.

Here’s a link.

https://soundcloud.com/designkompany/make-art-1

 

 

Ideas of Curiosity · Stories

S P A C E | ‘In the Margins’

DK Director Dipika Kohli & Napisa Leelasuphapong talk art, design, and curation, in light, honest and easygoing conversations at the library and garden spaces of the privately funded contemporary art space, Bangkok CityCity Gallery, Feb. 2020.  

This is an excerpt from one of our 2020 issues of S P A C E, which was called S P A C E | Bangkok, ‘The Last Copy is for Reading Here’. Find it in our online store, here.



In the Margins


Words Dipika Kohli
Editing A. Spaice
Photography Napisa Leelasuphapong

A friend of mine who studied narrative ontology once said, ‘There are two kinds of stories. Someone goes on a trip, and, a stranger comes to town.’ In Bangkok in February, I think we had both, in one sitting.

I, a stranger, came to town, but with the help of people who got me started thinking newly, we all sort of went on a new trip. Together. That is what happens, sometimes. Especially in S P A C E.


 


The setting: mid-afternoon, hopping off the MRT for Lumphini Park and strolling through the expensive-looking neighborhood to the place I had arranged to meet the team of Bangkok CityCity Gallery, which is a privately-funded contemporary art space.

It’s the kind of place you don’t really know about unless you specifically are looking, but if you go once, then you probably go reguarly, to see what’s changing. I found myself changing, on this trip. Here’s why. Professional, long-time Bangkokian curators who’ve spent their careers on the work of bringing art to the public, super cool, and I, got to chat, together, about what exactly that even means. A show called ‘The Last Copy is for Reading Here’ was about to close at the time of my visit.


‘If I don’t put myself into it,’ says Napisa Leelasuphapong, the Bookshop Library Manager, who put together the show, ‘then it’s not that interesting.’


Talking was easygoing. Simple. The mostly-empty table where we sat was by the window. A glass of water was offered. A pitcher of ice water reflected all the lights. The shadows of the decal of the title of the show fell on the surfaces, floor, edges, chairs, tables, anything, through the shift of time. An afternoon went by, like this, and I took these kinds of visual notes, while we listened to each other and asked questions that made us all think. And pause.

At these obtuse angles, I was reminded all over again of why I love relational aesthetics. Us, in the room, together. Us, with this show. The show, with us: the copy on the table, the title of this show. Shadow. Light. Exciting, just recalling it, reporting it here. (‘Last Copy’ was, curiously, the first show in the library space. Following our fun, light, and agenda-less drift of conversations, I left the last copy of DK’s limited edition set of four issues of S P A C E | Rīga, ‘Drift’ with Leelasuphapong.)

A leafy neighborhood


The gallery is in a leafy neighborhood that is quite easy to walk around in, which is nice, when you are in Bangkok. So, getting back to my just-for-this-week home, which was a 10-minute walk from there, I thought it over. Sitting on the balcony of the second-floor room, in this wooden guesthouse that is built around a giant tree in a tiny courtyard, and run by an elderly couple who gave me a semi-deal, I really went through the feelings.

What it was, was the same kind of thing that happens when you go very far from home, and come back, and look at it all, again. Sitting there, on that nice outdoor spot poking out into the limbs of this very sturdy, old, and wise tree, I again considered what was around me, relationally.

(The couple, their story about coughing and how, no, no, it’s not the virus, ‘He just went to Phuket, see, and smokes, and drank too much!’, so no need to fret about ‘coronavirus,’ as we all were calling it back then.) Did I fret? A little. Did it matter? Not that much, in the end, fortunately. Sure, I did have a slight fever and a sniffly nose, but I slept for two days and it got better. It was hot. Very.

 

Focus


If I don’t put myself into it, then it’s not that interesting, she had said. I kept going back to that. Wondered if I could talk to her some more about the show itself, and not just generally about art and curation, this time. Could we?

In Open Space, which is my favorite style of hosting dialogue roundtables, you can have ‘breakout’ spaces when you want to dive deep into a specific topic. You just arrange another time, another place, and set the theme. So we did.

This time, we talked in the garden, continuing exactly from where we’d left off. Students of design, aesthetics, and art, like us, tend to veer towards the philosophical quite naturally, I think.


‘I studied for a master’s degree in Visual Arts, major in Graphic Design in Belgium,’ Leelasuphapong explained, after first finishing a bachelor’s in industrial design, in Bangkok.

‘The class in which the teacher asked, ‘What moves you as an artist?’ that I mentioned was an optional class. Most of the students joined in the class were from [the] art department. I’m a graphic designer who’s interested in art. :).’


I could relate.

Discover the full story

Read the full story when you order the issue from our store.

Here’s a link.

http://gum.co/space-bkk-lastcopy

Thanks:)

Desk Notes

S P A C E is changing. Of course it is.

Special thanks to Hanoi-trained and Ho Chi Minh City-based product and food photographer Thắng Chu, of Uncle Photography, for the series of images that he took for us of our magazine, S P A C E. A few of them are below and also at our crowdfunding page.

What is the point of S P A C E? Design and discovery. Putting together the highlights of what we uncover, by simply inserting ourselves into the world, asking questions, and not giving up on the idea that you learn more when you learn more together. Here’s us, doing the jam, still. Discovering, and co-creating, as we go. Together, in S P A C E. Even when it’s a pandemic. Even when we’re not sure who’s around. Who’s interested. Who’s not blocking themselves from becoming better. Who’s okay with looking at something in a new way. In a country that doesn’t like to do that, it’s been one hell of a trick. Still, we keep doing our work, we keep making S P A C E. Boring or depressed foreigners aside, we’re looking for the people who are looking for the new. That’s it. That’s the whole thing. It always was, I just didn’t know it.

For the very curious

More about this project is at our newly updated crowdfunding page.

Here’s a link.

http://chuffed.org/project/spacethezine

Thanks.

Also, be sure to check out the work of photographer Thắng Chu at his site: www.thangchuphotos.com. Also see Instagram: @thangprofoto

Watch this space:)

Dipika

PS Reflecting on the 2020 year of change and stuff, I realize it’s time to say a thank-you. Special thanks to those who have supported S P A C E since the start. A lot of you donated anonymously to the campaign so I won’t call you out here. But you know who you are. I appreciate it. The best is yet to come, and I feel amazingly lucky to have the support from so many talented, smart and creative people in my sphere both near, and far. We are making it happen. Sharing the journey, one designful moment at a time. But you already knew I could deliver on that, and I appreciate it that you kept showing up for me, even when the showing up (for you, for me) was not easy. Thanking you. I read on a website somewhere that courage isn’t having the strength to go on. Courage is going on, even when you don’t have the strength…S P A C E was born in the waning hours of 2018. Today, it’s starting to start… naturally, a baby takes time to learn how to find its footing. #readyset #outofthecave2021

 

 

Desk Notes

Issue #115

DK’s internet-based conversation in one of our online circles is happening, and it’s about ‘Beauty.’

In our innermost circles of S P A C E we explore together topics like: the Japanese idea of ‘shibui’; everydayness; street museums; simple materials; and, of course, the meaninglessness and absurdity as well as profundity of being-here, itself.