Photography exhibition and Book Lauch German traces in Bangkok, Thai traces in Berlin

Deutsche Spuren GI Thailand Main banner © Goethe-Institut Thailand

May 5 - August 31, 2022

Goethe-Institut Thailand

After two months at the River City Bangkok, the exhibition is now open at the Goethe-Institut Thailand

Commemorating 160 years of Thai-German relations, the Goethe-Institut Thailand together with the German Embassy in Bangkok and River City Bangkok, welcome visitors to an inspirational tour of German traces in Bangkok and Thai traces in Berlin. Sometimes small and subtle, sometimes so big that they characterise the city’s skyline – the interconnectedness of Thai-German friendship has manifested in many different ways. Behind each manifestation, there are stories to be told, some dating back to the 1800s.

Through the lenses of renowned photographers Ralf Tooten (Bangkok) and Wolfgang Bellwinkel (Berlin), the stories from two very different cities come together into one extensive photography exhibition, mirroring each other’s influences. Their photographs shine a light on details that might go unnoticed otherwise but will surely change the way we perceive the cityscapes. More importantly, they invite the audience to go out into the streets of Bangkok or Berlin to (re-)discover these traces for themselves.

The concept and idea of this project is based on Maren Niemeyer’s experience, who, after 28 years in Berlin, came to Bangkok in 2016 to head the local Goethe-Institut. While immersing herself in the Thai metropolis, she would occasionally see something familiar, something that could only originate from Germany. Over the years, a long list of German traces in Bangkok was put together with Thai traces in Berlin.

German writer Martin Schacht followed these mutual influences across the two cities, uncovering thrilling stories that represent the multi-facetted relationship between Thailand and Germany. From tales of Siamese princes in what was then Prussia to the revival of the famous Mandarin Oriental Hotel on the banks of the Chao Phraya River by German avant-garde photographer Germaine Krull. Bound into 200 pages, available in German, Thai and English, the official book “German Traces in Bangkok and Thai Traces in Berlin” launches alongside the exhibition and will inspire its readers to dive deep into the stories illustrated by the photographs.

Should you be interested in purchasing a printed copy of the book “German Traces in Bangkok, Thai Traces in Berlin” (ISBN 978-616-588-681-9) in Thailand for 500 Thai Baht, please contact or call 02 108 8233. The book will be available for purchase in Germany from April 2022 and details will be announced in due time.
About the artists and the curator:

Ralf Tooten has worked in Europe for prominent companies, advertising agencies, magazines and art exhibitions. Fascinated by the aesthetics of visual encounters, the personal radiance of human beings, and passionate admiration for great architecture of all centuries, Tooten places the main focus of his work as a photographer on architecture, landscape, and portrait photography. Enthralled by the exotic aesthetics of the city of Bangkok, Tooten has spent years documenting its after-dark activities, which he published together with the Author Roger Willemsen in the 2009 book, Bangkok Noir. In 2018/2019, Tooten participated as an artist in the first Bangkok Art Biennale. He is currently based in Bangkok.

Wolfgang Bellwinkel lives and works as a photographer, curator and lecturer in Berlin and Bangkok. His work has been shown in many solo and group exhibitions. They include the Pinakothek der Moderne (Munich), Berlinische Galerie (Berlin), Museum voor Fotografie (Antwerp), Daelim Art Museum (Seoul), Bangkok Art and Cultural Center (Bangkok). His roots lay in documentary photography, a genre that is closely connected to the theme of understanding and articulating phenomena in the modern world. Bellwinkel works on visual strategies that go beyond the traditional norms and conventions of the documentary genre.

Martin Schacht first came to Bangkok by chance in 1989. The city was bigger, more colorful, and more exotic than anything he knew. Since then, he has been commuting between Berlin and Bangkok as a TV documentary filmmaker and author of travel books, articles, and novels. Both cities, he thinks, can be exhausting, but they both grow on you. And conveniently, it is most beautiful in Bangkok when Germany is gray and cold.

Maren Niemeyer is a German journalist, film director and cultural manager who called Berlin her home for almost 30 years. Her work as a reporter took her to more than 70 countries on all continents and presented her with a nomination for the prestigious Grimme Award, among others. For ARD, ZDF, Deutsche Welle TV and the German-French culture channel ARTE, she has repeatedly reported from crisis and war zones such as Kosovo, Syria, Lebanon, Nigeria and Afghanistan. As of 2016, she is heading the Goethe-Institut Thailand as well as coordinating cultural work in Laos and Cambodia.