“Last stand for Pom Mahakan” was a week-long photo exhibition held at SEA Junction on 16-22 January 2018 that was dedicated to the community of Fort Mahakan, a historical heritage site located in the center of Bangkok. Today Mahakan Fort is one of only two such towers that remain from the original late 18th century walls. The area in between the mighty walls and the river, which has been home to more than 50 households over six generations, will be turned soon into an eco-tourism spot to complement the historic fort, which was built in the 1700s. This exhibition was the result of the many hours spent by Italian photographer Jan Daga with the community documenting with his camera the ongoing transformation of a lively community into lawn for a future gentrified tourist attraction. A preview of selected photos can be seen at http://seajunction.org/gallery/glimpses-of-southeast-asia/people-mahakan-fort/ and athttp://www.jandaga.com/copia-di-stories.
At the opening event on 16 January at 5.30-6.30 PM, the photographer shared his interest in Pom Mahakam and his observations as well as discussing his photo style and techniques. Thereafter, there was a panel with him and two other experts: Chatri Prakitnonthakan, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Architecture, Silpakorn University who specializes in historical architecture and has published on Fort Mahakan, and Michael Herzfeld, Ernest E. Monrad Professor of the Social Sciences Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, an anthropologist well-known in Thailand for his work on heritage studies and urban planning.
Jan Daga (full name Janusz Daga) is an Italian photographer and free-lance journalist based in Thailand. His work in Thailand is focused on vulnerable people’s life, working conditions and daily struggles and the contradictions of modern society in Asia (see http://www.jandaga.com).
Chatri Prakitnonthakan is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Architecture, Silpakorn University. He has been involved in researching architectural history and the historic urban landscape of old Bangkok, including Pom Mahakan. He has followed the community for more than 12 years.
Michael Herzfeld is Ernest E. Monrad Professor of the Social Sciences Department of Anthropology, Harvard University. He is also Affiliated Professor, Department of Urban Planning and Design (GSD) Director, Thai Studies Program, Asia Center.
Photos by: Rosalia Scoirtino and Kanyawee Seedabut