SEA Junction’s “The Mekong is Blue and Dried” exhibition is born out of concern for the environmental degradation of the Mekong River. This river is the most diverse in fresh water fishery in the world with the greatest biodiversity after the Amazon. It feeds more than 60 million people who live along its entire route. Among them there are indigenous communities that depend on the Mekong for their natural resource-based livelihoods and as a source of income. However, their way of life is nowadays threatened by the ongoing dam-building race since the first dam was built on the Mekong mainstream 20 years ago.
Today, eleven dams are planned for the lower mainstream Mekong, and 300 more are in the waiting on feeder waterways. Cumulative impacts have been felt by the riparian communities living downstream. The combination of upstream and downstream dams’ operations has blocked the natural rich nutrients and sediments and the water flow. In late 2019, the Mekong turned into rare blue color instead of its usual brown. The blue color of the Mekong reflects “dead” for aquatic animals, other animals that dwell in the Mekong riverbank and millions of people who depend for their livelihood on the biodiversity of the River.
Meanwhile, the networks of environmental experts, civil society, media and academia tirelessly continue to advocate for environmental and social measures for the Mekong River. Aiming to contribute to these ongoing efforts through the creative use of visual documentation and art amid the pandemic, SEA Junction launched “The Mekong River is Blue and Dried” special initiative with the support of the Samdhana Institute. The initiative called for photos and artwork series accompanied by a short essay in the four main themes: (1) Environmental degradation of the Mekong river; (2) Destruction caused by dams and development interventions affecting the river; (3) Impacts on people and communities depending on the Mekong River for their livelihoods; (4) Stories of advocacy and how networks of civil groups advocate and try to limit environmental and social damage (“history of opposition”).
In addition to virtual dissemination through a special page on our website and social media channels, a selection of photographs and artworks from the visual stories will be showcased in "The Mekong is Blue and Dried” exhibition on 16 – 28 March 2021 at Corner Space, 1st Floor, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC). In times that the Mekong has just dropped to worrying levels, we hope that the issue is brought into wider attention through this 2-week long exhibition held by SEA Junction in partnership with Bangkok Tribune News Agency and Thai Society of Environmental Journalists and with support from Samdhana Institute.
The exhibition will be launched with an opening talk (in English) on the issue by the speakers listed below, on 16 March 2021, 5:30 – 7:00 pm at Corner Space, 1st Floor, BACC where the exhibition is held.
- Anthony Zola, Independent Researcher
- Carl Middleton, Center for Social Development Studies, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University
- Premrudee Daoroung, Lao Dam Investment Monitor
- Laure Siegel, Freelance Journalist
- Rosalia Sciortino, SEA Junction
It will also be followed with the Media Talk (in Thai) on 20 March 2021, 1:00 – 2:30 pm at the same area. The talk will explore photos and stories behind in the photo exhibition. The speakers will also exchange the views and share experiences as the media and people who have been working and monitoring closely on the Mekong River, whether it be the issues in environmental degradation, people’s livelihood and advocacy of the civil society.
- Chanang Umparak, Mekong Butterfly
- Thitipan Pattanamongkol, Sarakadee Magazine
- Sayan Chuenudomsavad, Bangkok Tribune
- Montri Udompong, Khao 3 Miti
Kamol Sukin, GreenNews