"There are approximately 10,268 7-Eleven stores in Thailand with an average of 11.8 million daily visitors (2019). 7-Eleven stores operate 24 hours per day and have become a common sight within the urban landscape." - Miti Ruangkritya

(Bangkok, November 26, 2019) BANGKOK CITYCITY GALLERY is delighted to present a solo exhibition of new work by Bangkok based artist Miti Ruangkritya, on view from November 30, 2019 to January 19, 2020. This exhibition marks the artist's second presentation with the gallery.
The glare of colored neon from Thailand's favorite convenience store chain-illuminated strips of orange, white and green anchored by a logo - is an image as ubiquitous in the Thai urbanscape as the daily sunset. In Ruangkritya's new exhibition, the bright, crisp, hyper-vivid images of near-identical 7-Eleven stores taken during the golden hour arrive with an unlikely soulmate: a set of rough, grainy, pixelated CCTV screengrabs documenting robbery attempts of 7-Eleven stores by helmeted desperadoes, knife-wielding petty thieves or armed and hooded muggers.
The juxtaposition of the tranquil, properly composed photographs of the stores at twilight with the messy, newspaper-y images of those stores in their helplessness forms the conceptual backbone of Ruangkritya's new show titled A CONVENIENT SUNSET | A CONVENIENT HOLDUP. At once precise and dreamy, placid and absurd, inviting and eerie, A CONVENIENT SUNSET | A CONVENIENT HOLDUP teases our expectations, provokes interpretation, and above all hints at the inevitability of chaos even in the environment as controlled and manufactured as those brightly-lit stores frequented by almost every Thai every day.

Ruangkritya, a conceptual photographer who has exhibited widely at home and abroad since 2010, spent months driving around Thailand taking pictures of 7-Eleven stores. And he only took them during the "magic hour", those ephemeral minutes right before sunset when the sky is awash in flaming orange or purple glow. Aiming for that brief window of perfect natural light, Ruangkritya could capture only one store a day - before moving on to do the same with the next store in the next street corner in the next district, and so on.

The 7-Eleven imagery is a continuation of Ruangkritya's exploration of Thailand's real-estate dream and urban transformation, which he has chronicled in earlier shows such as Imagining Flood (2011), Sathorn Sunset (2017), Dream Property (2014-ongoing). In all of his works, Ruangkritya's formal composition and exact technique is haunted by a disturbing undercurrent, a photographic prediction of some apocalyptic event that threatens to turn concrete into dust and buildings into ruins.

The sketchy, short-lived online images intended for fast news in the HOLDUP part of A CONVENIENT SUNSET | A CONVENIENT HOLDUP highlight that haunting quality in Ruangkritya's work. In these pictures, we witness the lurking force symbolized by small-time crooks and lo-tech thieves, their faces hidden under masks or hoods: They are the invisible people squeezed dry by the economic hierarchy, pervasive inequality and corporate dominance, and thus Miti's photographs of Thailand's favorite convenience store chain suggest all the unspoken inconveniences concealed beneath the bright neon glare.

Text by Kong Rithdee