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Thais see art in everyday objects of protest

Exhibitions and a mobile museum record the ephemera of political struggles

Protest objects of the group Thalufah are displayed at Cartel Gallery, including cooking implements, wire cutters, gas masks and a handmade pipe device to spray colored water. (Photo by Philip Cornwel-Smith)

BANGKOK -- Since 2005, my neighborhood in downtown Bangkok has often been the site of demonstrations. Two such gatherings extended into multimonth occupations that resembled Thai temple fairs in their creative mix of sociability, ritual, food, markets, music and parades.

As a writer on popular culture, I would tour the encampments, noting the stalls selling T-shirts, buttons and bandannas. Though mundane, such things are historical artifacts of Thailand's ongoing political upheaval. Much of it has been lost, but protest objects have suddenly emerged in several exhibitions.

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