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MAIL OPINION  By Shana Kongmun


Creativity in Thailand

Chiang Mai is of course promoting itself as a creative city with the Creative City Initiative but a recent conversation with a friend of mine made me stand up in defense of Thai creativity. Too often I hear many people state with seemingly great authority that Thais have no creativity as it has all been beaten down at school with rote learning and lessons to never question authority.
While the facts of rote learning and authority remain true I think that creativity can be silenced, for a time, but not killed outright and that there is much creativity to be seen in Thailand. Thai commercials win international awards for their creativity. One particular one a few years back involving the devil out of a job because nobody was dying and ended up being an ad for a sports drink. Another involved a house insurance ad that saw a tornado destroy a house and then put back together. The latest was a very funny, very Thai commercial for women’s bras that swept the world by storm. Another one was a hard hitting ad against smoking that saw little kids go up and ask adults they see smoking for a cigarette and when told they wouldn’t give them one as they shouldn’t smoke, ask “why do you then?”
I attend many of the CMU Fine Arts students thesis shows at the Art Museum on Nimmanhaemin and I do so with pleasure. The students offer up many thought provoking projects that show they are thinking outside the box and questioning the world around them. Either CMU has a heck of an unusual Fine Arts Department (and I suspect it does) or creativity, when allowed an outlet, will come out.
How many creatively repaired pickups have we seen trundle in from the countryside that pause us to stop and think “How did they fix it that way?” I saw a cute little yellow car painted with the familiar New York checkerboard pattern and a sign on the back that said “Taxi for hippies only.” Regularly I see things that make stop and pause to consider. I think too often as foreigners we stop to judge it as dodgy rather than see it as the creative outlet it is.
So, before repeating something that has been said a thousand times open your eyes and see the world around you. It might increase your own creativity too.

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Creativity in Thailand