Filipino photographer Nico Sepe launches ‘Co-Labs’ exhibition in Bangkok – Manila Bulletin

His subjects are artists with special needs who have discovered how to express themselves using different art mediums.

“Beauty, pure without vanity!” This is how Filipino photographer Nico Sepe describes his latest exhibition titled “Co-Labs”. Opened at the Bangkok Art & Culture Center (BACC), the collection showcases his recent works in collaboration with 10 different Thai artists. His subjects are artists with special needs who have discovered how to express themselves using different art mediums. The photographs highlight the wet-plate collodion process, an early type of photography using glass as a negative dating to 1854.

Thai Royal Family member Than Phu Ying Sirikitiya Jensen (right) talks to Thai artist Catleeya Asavanant while Filipino photographer Nico Sepe talks about the photography collaboration at the Bangkok Art & Culture Center (Photo by Claro Cortes IV)

“We chose this medium because it has historical relevance. This wet plate collodion became popular in the mid 19th century (1850s) and years after the discovery of Down syndrome by English physician John Langdon Down and they used wet plates to record people or patients that they manipulated. Nico said in his speech. “[I] just want to raise awareness and recognize people with special needs. It’s a kind of tribute to them. It’s not just art for art’s sake, but it’s more about raising awareness and giving importance to people who have this condition. This project is dedicated to my nephew Emilio Sepe who also has Down syndrome.

Until April 24, the exhibition is part of the overall concept entitled “Co-Labs: Collaboration”. Nico worked on the portraits from October 2021 to February 2022, which was made possible with the help of the Rainbow Room Foundation, a special needs awareness center.

Through his camera, Nico captured painters Catleeya Asavanant, weaver Krailas Skuldist, miniature carver Pakchanya U-Pratya, poetry reader Petchlapa Chevamongkol, carvers Yaipoeng and Naipran, maker of traditional style round neck tops “kor krachao” Peerach Panayothakul, “khimmusician Chanita Thamthatpimol, eurithmy (art of expressive movement) performers Korakot and Tanayu Teerasawad, and saxophonist Jittipat Thongprasert.

Thai Royal Family member Than Phu Ying Sirikitiya Jensen (right) talks to Thai artist Catleeya Asavanant while Filipino photographer Nico Sepe talks about the photography collaboration at the Bangkok Art & Culture Center (Photo by Claro Cortes IV)

One of the guests who attended the opening of his exhibition was Than Phu Ying Sirikitiya Jensen, a member of the Thai royal family, granddaughter of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and niece of the reigning King Vajiralongkorn of Thailand. Khun Sirikitiya is herself an avid photographer like her grandfather, the highly revered King Bhumibol.

According to his biography, Nico began his photographic journey in the late 70s documenting lives in the underground movement and the fall of the Marcos dictatorship. He worked mainly on missions commissioned by non-governmental organizations and even self-financed some of his documentary projects.

Watch the story of “Co-Labs” here:

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