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Media: Photography / Photography Book

Size: 30 cm X 45 cm / 158 Photographs

SAVAGE STRUGGLE indicated lives on the street which struggle daily only to survive. My series of photograph show a stark contrast between street dogs and their surroundings. Dogs speak for themselves about being secluded from the society through their body language, facial expressions and survival instinct. However, the photographs are the evidence of our ever-increasing trash and garbage which indicate ignorance and lack of responsibilities. With this in mind, I would like to bring my photographs to people’s attention through photography book with the ultimate intention to what we humans have left behind and never held accountable on what we have done.

Since my early childhood, I have always wanted to own a dog, and it’s what my parents didn’t allow me to do.

Both my mum and my dad gave me practically anything I asked for; the only exception was to welcome another family member to our home. I clearly remember the sheer excitement as I went over to a friend’s house just to play with her dog. I persistently persuaded my parents to let me have a puppy in whichever way possible. What they said was not until I was at 6th grade would I be allowed to have one. So I waited, waited, and waited. But when I really was at 6th grade, they said 12th grade would be even more appropriate. I was very upset and disappointed that they didn’t keep their promise. Not long after, however, my dad bought me a turtle, instead, which didn’t suffice my long-sought-after desire, but getting a puppy, of course, did. I got even more determined to get a puppy because I strongly believed that it would be the best friend I could ever wish for, so I would do whatever it take to have that best friend one day. 

When I graduated from high school, I managed to buy myself a puppy without the knowledge of my parents. This happened so quickly. I found myself at the pet section in Chatuchak Market during one weekend with some of my friends. In that section from which a wide range of dog breeds were sold, we found a shop selling Chihuahua puppies, so we went right inside. There were puppies in several pens. Sitting down, I took great delight in trying to play with them, many of which minded their own business with their food; one of them walked straight to me and then slept on my lap. It was hard only to sit there and resist how cute that puppy was to me, so I brought him home right after that. I named him Hershey. 

Looking back on it now, I understand why my dad gave me a turtle. I discovered that dogs needed a lot of attention. No one would be responsible for him, except myself who brought him home. So I held fully accountable to whatever happened to him. For 5 years since the day I brought Hershey we had been through a lot together, and our bond had became so stronger that I couldn’t imagine a life without him. I was full of worry when he fell sick. All the anxiety over potential problems for him constantly made me spoil him and became very protective. This is simply because I didn’t want to lose him. It’s the last thing I ever wanted to happen in life. He turned out to be screaming when he didn’t get what he wants, which was a truthful reflection of what I was at the time. Every day I tried to keep him safe from possible harm and, so he would not get injured. I never let him out on his own even though sometimes, apparently, he just wanted to chill out. This directly corresponded to the way my parents raised me. They made sure that my living was secured or protected against possible danger or risk. Living with my parents in a closely guarded village in Bangkok, I was tracked by security cameras the first minute I stepped out of my house. I felt so safe that I didn’t bother to lock the door. I used to think danger was distant. But, actually, it was my parents who fenced up to protect me. 

Thailand is a country filled with stray and abandoned dogs on the streets. It’s a familiar sight, especially in Bangkok, for dogs to wander endlessly on the street. I, and possibly many other Bangkokians, am no stranger to this sight. As a dog lover, I just wanted to play with stray dogs I met. I went out with such a positive mind that what I experienced tended to gradually build up pessimistic outlooks on me. Every time I photographed them, trash and garbage seemed to be present everywhere. It is inescapable.

 It seems logical to think that stray dogs and garbage littering are two separate issues. Nonetheless, I have found out that both of them bear commonalities for the fact that people treat them exactly the same. In retrospect, I used to be blindsided when I went out on the street to photograph them. My concentration was set upon the dogs. Driving my car, I followed numerous abandoned dogs with the intention to photograph them. Little did I realize that I got myself into abandoned areas, to which the dogs led me. With abandoned places oftentimes come homeless people. I then had a handful of nagging doubts that never faded away, as to why no one looked after them, or why they were neglected. At first, I even acted like it didn’t exist. Now I’m fully aware that I’m potentially surrounded by danger and risk. 

It was muddled thinking, with no sense of mere clarity, to have push and force my photos toward positive sides and taken no consideration of what accompanies them. When I laid out all my photos, I couldn’t lie to myself that these places they’ve been living in are a total disorder piled up with trash and garbage. On an ad hoc basis, they built their own home from our unwanted materials. I came to realize that our scraps became their necessities to shelter them now. This experience is eye-opening to me. Things we consistently took them for granted and therefore discarded become inextricably parts of their lives, which inspired chills down my spine. It’s all kinds of story behind the objects in all the photos I took that rendered those feelings.

I had so many unanswered questions about my own photographs: Who owned these stuffs? Why did they throw them away? etc. Or it is just no one’s possession. It’s strange we throw away things we ourselves produced, inanimate as well as animate. Dogs are no exception. I was confronted with dangerous situations without realizing that we ourselves are contributive factors to what is happening. I came to admit the fact that we certainly live in a wasteful society. 


No matter how hard we found it to blame ourselves. We people are the only species capable of making high-level decision and cause change. We deem ourselves highest in terms of intellectual abilities among all other creatures. How is it possible to blame others? We are careless and irresponsible. Garbage dumping and now global warming are prevalent, especially on daily news. When I heard the news, I used to think these issues were blown out of proportion and then exaggerated in an attempt to sell. Since I saw it with my own eyes, I have learned empathetically that there are lives struggling only to survive day by day, day in and day out.

When it comes to environment-related issues we can’t blame anyone but ourselves. Despite being born equipped with higher intellectual abilities, we humans try to solve these problems and predicaments by terminating lives or burning them. This is considered savage, but when we heard the word ‘savage’, we hardly associate it to ourselves, we automatically point to animals. It’s quite hard to picture ourselves as being ‘savage’ because we have became very civilized. Savagery means fierce, violent and uncontrolledor the quality of being cruel. We could say that we’re civilized group of people, but I believe our behaviors are savage toward the environment and other natural inhabitants because results of treating them that way seem distant and have nothing to do with our immediate future. This is the purest form of brutality and savagery. 

What I’ve learned is that we actually have so much to give, but how little we care. People always brought their leftover to feed street dogs, which was considered a very kind act of giving in many people’s view. But I rarely see people reach out to them and clean up the mess we have caused. One day, I saw a man driving his motorcycle towards me and the dogs. I knew exactly he was going to feed them, but I wasn’t expecting the way he feed. He poured his leftover right on the ground and immediately left and did not even take a glimpse back at the dogs. The food terribly spread all over the ground and, surprisingly enough, it was stir-fried clams with chili. The clams were left with only the shells and the amount of chili were countless which was impossible to swallow. He didn’t even care how they manage to eat it or how harmful to their overall health. His business was to get rid of the leftover food. Maybe he would think that all the food would someday decompose. The bottom line is if we care enough about how we discard the leftover food, we may know that these behaviors are detrimental to the environment as a whole. The impact of garbage dumping is a disaster out of our own deeds and decisions.

One night I decided to go out to a temple fair; which was the most joyful moment for locals. On the contrary, there were dogs sleeping in the dark and shadowy street nearby. I wonder how they sleep and what it’s like when they’re in the dark. It was the cheerful music echoed from the temple that made me feel left out. Imagine sleeping in the midst of a jostling, clamorous crowd having fun in the fair. It must have felt out of place and miserable.

A state of abandonment and resulting despondency is predominant. The unwanted, unlovable and worthless feeling by treating them like a piece of trash is also ubiquitous. They were physically and mentally miserable. They might have nothing to look forward to, they would rather just sleep the night, and possibly their lives, away. No purpose, no relationship and no further or safer shelter they could any more seek. They are trapped in reality, as victims.    

I somehow feel attached to them which keep me going out and take their pictures. When I heard dogs howl at night, their faces just popped up and reminded me of the pain of being abandoned. Every time I threw stuff into the bin, the photographs flashback and speak to me that this is the blame, and street dogs suffer from this dumping behavior. To put it simply, a piece of garbage became a striking reminder of dog on the street. To see them live their lives in such conditions makes me feel sullen because deep down I know that it is hardly possible for humans to live without causing trash.

Some dogs behave like they had owners before. They reached out to people and acted familiar to total strangers. I began to form emotional bonds with one of them. I met him when he was a size of my hand. I often went back and played with him. The worst moment happened when I went back and found out he died. It was heart-wrenching. He was the one who wagged his tail when he saw me. He remembered me. These dogs lived in such a poor quality of life, but I never thought to see their lives expire. I felt guilty every time it was out of my conscientious control to save his life.

I must admit the first one was the hardest. If you experience it once, you would never feel the same way. The second time around I became numb or desensitized to the death. I have to console myself by accepting the fact that it is the way life goes. I am in a persistent state of being emotionally hurt. All those downcast feelings still last on my mind. I have never figured out why I couldn’t get him out of my head. Perhaps a piece of me died along with him, including my sense of faith in humanity. It was that day when I lost that faith, and optimism was no longer the case. I was so depressed, thus rendering me weak physically and psychologically. But, in the least, my weakness reminds me of who I really am; a human being.

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