Rat Ya Darkroom

Oct 18 – Nov 1 2020
Projected Photographs at Good Grief Studios ・ Tasmania, Australia

My darkroom is on Rat Ya Soi 15 ( Rat Ya 15 for short ) It’s a small soi on major Rat Ya road in Thonburi district, near Wongwian Yai. It’s just a short drive down the street from my home. The soi is home to many factory workers. There is a tuk tuk repair and machined parts shop across and to the left of the building that holds the darkroom. At the end of the soi is the Muzina factory. A Japanese shoe company based in Thailand. The owner of the company is the one who also co-owns the building that my studio is in. The owner is Japanese and also speaks fluent Thai. He lives in a shophouse directly across from the studio. Besides manufacturing shoes, he also sponsors local art projects and throws parties at least twice a month for the neighbours in the soi. They often eat Jim Joom (Isaan hot pot) together and sing karaoke. I met Him through my girlfriend who has been working for his company for several years now. We started going to Rat Ya 15 for Songkran in 2014. It’s always been a small community and I always see the same faces. We drink, dance, and splash water together. Also, I’ve been witnessing the kids growing up. He has 2 children who also like to play with the kids in the soi. Most of the kids can’t speak any English but some of them started to learn from people coming to visit and from their school. Occasionally they try to speak English with me.I’ve been living in Thailand for about a decade and in that time I’ve been searching for a community space to print and develop my photos. During this time, there have been so many projects that almost happened – many projects fell through. So after 10 years of waiting I had enough, I called my friend who owns Pattani Studio and asked him if I could borrow an enlarger since he is a collector of sorts. He had an extra one, some lenses, and a timer. So I was going to attempt to do everything in my really tiny bathroom. By Pure coincidence, the same week that I picked up an enlarger, The owner said he had an empty room that no one was using in the shophouse across from him. It was empty, no plumbing, electricity, or air conditioning. A blank room. I asked him what he wanted for it and he said that if I taught his son English, I could have the room. He helped me to source a team of workers to install the things I needed and I found all second hand equipment to put it in there. I was able to keep the budget under $350 for Plumbing, AC, Electricity, Sink, Fridge. The desks were loaned to me by the owner and another friend who has a restaurant nearby.

Curated by Scot Cotterell

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