Freedom of expression in overdrive.
With the protests erupting in Bangkok, there’s never been a better time for Kritsada “Seen” Duchsadeevanich, better known as “wtf political,” to flex his creative muscles. We got in touch with him to uncloak his opinion on the current situation, his journey to becoming an artist, and what fuels his interest in politics.
What do you do for work?
I work as a curator for Silpakorn University for my “day job.” Even before I took this job, I had always worked with art, ever since my university days. I also worked with the Ministry of Culture in several exhibitions, so you could say that the passion has always been there. Politics, along with art, have stuck with me since day one, too.
Why have you felt compelled to make protest art now?
I feel like everything is confusing in Thai society. There’s just no transparency. So it begs the questions: ‘What’s real? What’s true?,’ hence the name “wtf political.” What I try to do with my Instagram page is convey political messages through art, kind of like a political cartoon… and make the viewers question what’s real. My work also reflects how atrocious and horrid our society can be.
Have you felt a greater urge to create because of what’s happening in Thailand?
Yes, for sure. But I think without the protest, I would have continued to make these kinds of pieces with the same messages anyway. I’ve always produced textual art about politics, whether it be current events or significant moments in the past. I always combine a bit of satire to politics, to put it simply.
Do you think that by sharing your art on social media, you have helped the protest movement maintain its momentum?
My art isn’t the magnet that attracts the protestors—the art only follows the movement. I only narrate the current context. So no, I can’t say that we lead the movement. I think it’s beyond what art can do. There’s no “ceiling” to limit the protests.
Have you ever made art that’s not intertwined with politics?
Almost all of my art has been related to politics, because, in my opinion, art and politics always go together as a concept. Whatever political beliefs you hold will always influence the way you live your life, and it’s the same thing with art. I think artists should have the autonomy to create and express however they want, even if their work ends up offending other people.
How do you think this current imbroglio will end?
I think before asking how it will all end, we should go back to what started the atrocities in our current society. Before we say how a “situation” will end, we should dig deep into the root of the problem and try to solve it together. We should give the right knowledge to people who need it or to people who think differently but in a civilized manner. A difference in opinions is not wrong in a democratic society, but we should all have civilized discourse that’s backed by logic. If this question really needs an answer, then I would say that we have to go back to assess and fix the “root” of all the problems.
Will the citizens eventually prevail?
Well, we already won a long time ago—88 years ago, to be precise, ever since the change of governance in 1932. But since then, there hasn’t really been talks and discussion between people across the aisle from one another about how to achieve true democracy. I think that younger Thai citizens these days will not easily give in to the ideologies of the older generations. Their education and thirst for knowledge long ago surpassed those ideologies. Time will naturally bring in development and improvement, but what’s speeding that development is the enlightenment of everyone in the current generation.
Do you have any word of advice for aspiring artists who are trying to be seen?
It’s hard for me to give any advice because I don’t really know the magnitude of how people react to my art. But believe me: in social media, the youth today have the tools to make their art speak for itself. More to the point, I believe that everyone should have the freedom to be able to create art and express their opinions. Find truth in society and try to create something from it. Study the history of politics or other sciences as much as you can, so that your art won’t be a false paradise, cloaking society’s ugly truths.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Right now, you can follow my Instagram (@wtf_political) for artwork that pokes fun at the government and the current situation. I’ll continue to produce this kind of art, because I think there’s still a long way to go to get to the root of our problems.