Assoc. Prof. Somkiart Tangnamo, the Dean of the Chiang
Mai University’s Faculty of Fine Arts and co-founder and editor of the well
known website Midnight University died on June 6 at the age of 52 of
colorectal cancer at Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital.
The funeral rites were held at Wat Phrasing Maha
Worawiharn in Chiang Mai, between July 7 -9 and the cremation ceremony was
held on July 10 at Hai Ya cemetery in the Muang District.
Well known and respected social activist and arts
academic, Assoc. Prof. Somkiart Tangnamo, Dean of the Chiang Mai
University’s Faculty of Fine Arts, passed away on July 6 at the age of 52.
Mrs. Ornicha Tangnamo, Ajarn Somkiart’s wife, said that
he has been diagnosed with cancer in January of this year. He underwent
chemotherapy but his condition deteriorated. He was admitted to hospital on
June 10 and passed away on July 6.
Deeply involved in social issues, Assoc Prof. Somkiart
was well known for his academic work, contemporary art, sharp commentary on
social and political issues as well as his deep knowledge of fine arts.
He headed a campaign against the military-backed draft
constitution before the 2007 referendum that approved it.
On February 16, 2009, a group of CMU lecturers, personnel,
staff, and alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts issued a statement calling for
the Chiang Mai University Council to revoke Ajarn Somkiart’s position as
Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts after he signed his name to support the
amendment on the King Institute, (article 112).
An academic and social critic, he regularly posted his
views and academic articles on a popular online academic forum, http://www.midnightuniv.org,
which he and his colleagues, Dr. Nithi Iewsriwong, Somchai Preechasilapakul,
and Sattayachak Satayanuraks, at CMU founded in 1997 to be an intellectual
online network open to the public.
The website, established 10 years ago, is popular with
intellectuals and students in Thailand and abroad. It contains thousands of
articles on issues varying from politics to the role of the monarchy to the
arts, postmodernism, grass-roots movements, and philosophy.
His most recent works posted on the website included his
thoughts on Eastern aesthetics and a translation of an article titled
“Aesthetics in Islamic Philosophy”.
Midnight University’s web board was closed down
temporarily, reportedly by an Information and Communication Technology
Ministry order issued in 2006, for allegedly containing comments deemed
insulting to the monarchy.
Ajarn Somkiart insisted the website had no intention of
offending the monarchy. It only supported “constructive discussion” on the
role of the monarchy, he said.
In September 2008 he launched the Faculty’s Art Magazine,
to serve as a bridge between scholars and readers and to promote the
University’s Fine Arts department to Chiang Mai outside the University.
He graduated with arts from Chang Silp College of Fine
Arts, in 1979, earned a BA in Fine Arts from Silpakorn University in 1985,
and MA in liberal arts from Mahidol University in 1990, and worked as a
lecturer at CMU’s Faculty of Fine Arts from 1982. He was appointed Dean in