In 2017 we travelled to southern Thailand, from Bangkok to Kho Phayam Island. We searched for the ancient people of the Moken, the last nomads of the sea. The elders shared with us a thousand-year history of which they are the sole custodians; with the children, we played in their sea; they took us on their boats, letting us enter their isolated world in perfect harmony with the cycle of events and nature. This year, in 2018, we will travel to northern Thailand, from Bangkok to Chiang Mai areas located on the jungle’s edge, among temples, monks, and ancestral tribes.
And then up to Mae Sot along the border with Myanmar in search of tribal communities, snake hunters and elephant keepers. We will immerse ourselves in the ancient martial art Muay Thai. We will meet the masters of Sak Yant, the ancient art of Thai tattooing between magic, folk belief and religious symbolism.
Thailand Journey 2018, curated by photojournalist Gabriele Orlini with the on-site collaboration of Fabio Polese, is an immersive workshop for only four people, conceived and designed for those photographers who want to increase their experience in documentary photography, photojournalism, and storytelling.
During the trip to northern Thailand, off the beaten tourist track, each participant will follow an assigned topic, come into direct contact with local communities, and experience firsthand the situations and daily life that they will then go on to document.
The workshop’s main objective is to acquire the processes and experiences of documentary photography in “real” life conditions, following an assignment aimed at a photojournalistic and reportage publication.
This is a unique opportunity to work in the field with all the difficulties and necessities of an actual commission, from managing contacts on the ground to travelling and producing material to the often very tight timetable. Closing out the day each evening will be editing sessions of the work done up to that point. Ample space will also be devoted to discussion and debate. In addition, the programme for the following day will be defined, including any changes to the travel route. The constant guidance of Gabriele Orlini will ensure the right direction in the development of one’s assignment and will be an ongoing support for each participant in the fieldwork.
Thailand Journey 2018 begins among the waters of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. To understand a people, it is crucial to start with their roots, with the old city still inhabiting its river on wooden stilt houses. From Bangkok, we will travel north, arriving in Chiang Mai among temples, monks and ancestral tribes. We will immerse ourselves in the ancient martial art Muay Thai. We will meet the masters of Sak Yant, the ancient Thai art of tattooing between magic, folk belief and religious symbolism.
We will live day and night with a tribal community of snake hunters. Then, by local bus, we will travel to Mae Sot, a town along the border with Burma in Tak province, best known as a watershed for hundreds of thousands of refugees and trafficking (legal and otherwise) in weapons, drugs and precious stones. Alive during the day with its noisy markets full of colours and strong smells-it is deserted at night. Here we will visit an orphanage and clinic dedicated to giving a perspective on life after treatment, a hope for ethnic groups fleeing the former regime in Rangoon. After nine days, we will return to Bangkok to conclude the work.