When Steven and I first arrived in Ratchaburi, we came across these giant poster images of people in mostly jeans with masks covering their faces. I didn’t pay much attention at first, because I honestly thought it was a Levi’s advertisement. The next day, however, when we were more awake and had the sunlight on our side, I started to realize that these weren’t advertisements at all. It was our first introduction to street art in Ratchaburi!
That’s kind of how things go in Ratchaburi. If you’re paying attention, you’ll realize that almost every street corner plays host to a bit of magnificent street art. In fact, Ratchaburi caters to the artsy group quite well, filled with quirky cafes and museums that provide the right combination of color and caffeine to get the creative juices flowing.
So what about those giant posters? They’re actually the remnants of an open-air exhibition by Ralf Tooten titled, “R.C.A. (Ratchaburi Construction Workers).” The stars of the prints that I had mistakenly pinned as models are actually real-life construction workers pulled from the building sites of high-rise condos and expensive offices.
Their face coverings are alluring, and to be honest, lend them a hip kind of rebel look at a glance… but the reality is much more sobering than that. Not only do many workers need facial covering to protect themselves from dust and debris, but many of them also need to protect their identities. Did you know that there are over a million undocumented migrant workers in Thailand? About 75% of these come from Myanmar. Even those that happen to be completely legal live in fear of being harassed, physically abused, or arrested by the Thai police.
Tooten’s street art in Ratchaburi highlights these workers by putting the unseen on a pedestal where you’re forced to take notice. Say hello to the underbelly of globalization and modernization!
There’s plenty more street art where that came from, though! If you want to check out a sweet little modern art gallery where you can chill with an artsy-fartsy magazine and shoot the breeze with impossibly hip Thai baristas, hit up D Kunst Gallery & Cafe.
On our visit the artwork seemed to consist primarily of photographs of Ratchaburi and the surrounding area, but it was worth a visit if for nothing other than the delicious lattes served up in handmade ceramic mugs. The barista will be sure to give you pointers on where to find the best street art in Ratchaburi on your way out.
I promise, you won’t have to go far. Just across the street from D Kunst, the Mae Klong riverside embankment is covered with gorgeous (albeit fading) street art murals. A lot of pretty big names have made their way to this lazier city just outside of Bangkok, including P7, Mamafaka, and Alex Face–if you’re not already familiar with their work, take a look at this article on BUKRUK: Bangkok Street Art Festival.
There are plenty of other pieces of street art to be found, though. Take a look at my favorites here, and then go find your own! One of the beautiful things about street art is that it’s ever-changing, and it’s the one thing that seems to be going fast in slow-paced Ratchaburi. Just another reason to love this place!