Room no.2 (2020) is a project exploring Khlong Toey – the largest and most densely populated working-class community in Bangkok. The community emerged during the 1950s, when migrant workers moved from the countryside to the city in order to work in the neighbouring port. Today, there are 14,500 houses and 75,000 people living in Khlong Toey.
Many of the inhabitants form the workforce that help run the city – working in nearby condos, hotels, luxury shopping centres, and offices. Most of the people who live in the neighbourhood do not own their properties. In recent times, the Port Authority, which owns the land, has expressed its intent to develop the area into luxury estates, and has been increasingly mounted pressure on the community to relocate.
Room no.2 examines the interiors of the homes that occupy Khlong Toey – taking a straightforward and unsentimental approach. The collection excludes the home’s inhabitants, leaving the viewer with only the objects, personal effects, and the environments, to get a sense of the lifestyle and socioeconomic status of individuals living in these homes. These images have been developed with an overexposed monochromatic finish, contrasting with the colour-saturated photography that is often used when capturing communities in developing nations.
The work explores an overlooked and marginalised area of the city – prompting questions around the process of urbanisation, economic disparity, as well as the experience of individuals living within communities of lower social status. These photographs also act as an archive of the community, ensuring the memory of these marginalised inhabitants, their homes, and their identities are not erased or forgotten. Hopefully this work will increase awareness Khlong Toey as well as the many similar communities in Thailand and beyond, that face the ever-increasing pressures of displacement by economic and commercial forces.