Slum Vacation

Slum Vacation’ shows California-raised artist Phil America’s performance piece and the resulting sculptural and installation work that came of it. In the latter part of 2013 he moved to the Klong Toey slums, had a house built by a local carpenter in the same architectural manner as the other homes in the area, and interacted with the locals to achieve a better understanding of the area and life in the slums. The home, moved to the gallery with all of its contents after the duration of the performance, is presented with a multi-channel sound installation, traditionally used in cinemas, playing sound recorded in and around the house to give a 360- degree experience to the viewer taking them outside the gallery and into the heart of the slums. Along with the house and sound installation is a video projection showing the entire process mixed with video from the surrounding area and the school itself. The aim is to brining about some engagement, exceeding the exhibition, with the neighborhood as well as brining about universal awareness to an adverse life lived in the slums.

The neighborhood, made up primarily of rural migrants from Northeastern Thailand, is divided in numerous sections, all of which are vastly different than the other. There is block buildings typically associated with the slums of both North and South America, a railway line that cuts through the slum lined with homes nearly touching the passing trains, single-level homes built on small sois near the port and even shops and houses made under the passing highway.

While the majority of the neighborhood is unable to receive any basic facilities such as a running water supply, waste removal or electricity from the local government, they have manager to create a ‘society’ outside the norm of shopping malls and sky-rises typically associated with the country’s capital making it one of the largest marginal housing settlements in the world.


‘Slum Vacation’ was shown at the gallery at the Bangkok University, Thailand’s oldest university, and overlaps it with the surrounding community of Klong Toey’s slums. With the help of students and staff of the institution, as well as people of the community of Klong Toey, their interaction with the artwork becomes evident through their direct involvement in the work. The show brings the atmosphere of Klong Toey and its slums into the institution and inside the gallery itself, creating a dialogue between the viewers of the show and the people of the community long since separated by a cultural divide.

Administered by University’s Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts and on the campus of Bangkok University, the country’s oldest and largest private university, the Bangkok University Gallery hosts exhibitions in all media. 

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