Photo Gallery: Bangkok’s shophouses, in all their chaotic, cramped glory
With dozens of condominium high rises and office buildings in development all over Bangkok, photographers often focus on the skyscrapers and neon signs of this steadily growing mega-city, where, much like in the Western world, people fight to separate their work lives from their domestic existences.
German photographer Peter Nitsch’s upcoming exhibition, Shophouses, takes us to the flip side, exploring Bangkok's often over-shadowed second dimension of urbanism to provide an intimate look at these traditional retail businesses, which are found all over Thailand.
In many of Bangkok's mostly two-story shophouses, the lower level is open to the street, doubling as a work and living space. Nitsch’s photographs highlight the condensed lifestyles of these cramped surroundings, often stuffed full to the last centimeter, though he says they “nevertheless radiate an almost meditative peace.”
Below are some of the images that will be on display as part of Nitsch’s “Shophouses” exhibition from August 8 to September 26 at Bangkok’s Kathmandu Gallery -- an art space that is, suitably, a restored pre-war shophouse.
Nitsch's photos embrace the coexistence of all the various types of people, each with their own identity, who live in these cramped, chaotic spaces all over Bangkok.
This shophouse, owned by a Thai-Chinese family, features a small beauty parlor on the ground floor.
In most city shophouses, such this tire business, visitors will find photos of Thai royalty in addition to Buddhist shrines that the owners make daily offerings to.
Dogs, kids and business owners co-exist in this Bangkok laundry shop.
In Nitsch's photos the chaos of Bangkok's shophouses becomes a cosmos and thus transforms into its opposite: an orderliness, to which the photographs additionally lend their characteristic power of peace.