Born in 1962 Simon Larbalestier graduated from the Royal College of Art, London in 1987 with a Master’s Degree and begun a twenty-five-year collaboration with British designer Vaughan Oliver. Their most critically acclaimed collaboration is the work that they designed for the Pixies (who are credited with being a major influence on the alternative rock boom of the 1990s and the emergence of the music genre Grunge). Larbalestier’s photography was a key factor in the success of their packaging that has since resulted in two separate Grammy nominations. In 1989 Larbalestier was profiled on BBC2's influential British television arts magazine “The Late Show”. His work has been exhibited and published internationally since 1985 and has received international critical acclaim. In 2009 Oliver and Larbalestier collaborated again on a limited-edition box set re-issue of Pixies recordings, Minotaur, which included a 72-page book of new photography and graphics. In April 2010, Larbalestier joined Snap Galleries, London, celebrating with a major Pixies Retrospective 1986-2009. Larbalestier have been based in Bangkok, Thailand since 2002 and currently lectures on the Computer Graphics and Multi-Media program at Bangkok University International (BUI). He is also represented by the London photographic agency, Millennium Images, and the International agency, Alamy. Larbalestier is also currently undertaking a PhD in Photography at Chester University, England, and divides his time between Thailand and the United Kingdom.
Simon Larbalestier, a still from Sathu Pradit Soi 27, 2017, single channel video, 15 minutes 52 seconds, black and white, sound
Sathu Pradit Soi 27
The video piece is an exploratory project that is part of my PhD research: Territories Where Maps are No Longer Negotiable; an inquiry into the relationship between the photographic index and complex field of human geography. The video; Sathu Pradit Soi 27 represents a segment of a much bigger project entitled Sathu Pradit Road which originated in 2014. This body of work contains a number of photographic and text-based series that set out to document two particular dwellings where I have lived with my family in Sathu Pradit Soi 23 and the entire dismantling and subsequent removal of Soi 27. This was to make way for a new condominium – a thirty-seven floor complex (due to be completed at the end of 2020) and replaces fifty-five three-floor shop house dwellings, home to approximately one hundred extended families or more. Soi is the Thai word for alley or what we might refer to in the U.K as a side-street. Located in the Yana Nawa district of Bangkok, Thailand, Sathu Pradit Road is comprised of approximately fifty-eight designated numbered Soi’s and numerous Sub-Soi’s and branches off from Chan Road and finishes at the Chaopraya River.
Looking back on this recent series of photographs and the field notes, in a reflective and analytical sense, a decision was made record myself using two GoPro Hero 5 action cameras whilst making the photographs. The GoPro Hero 5 camera when affixed to the body, by means of a chest rig, enables the successful capture and visualisation of how the body reacts to the spaces through which I am moving: Going in closer, standing in front of the subjects, then moving to a corner of a room. All these movements serve to highlight my sensitivity in terms of what those spaces are, and what the significance of the objects are and how I am re-seeing them through my presence with the camera in those spaces. For example, the stark trace left by removal of all stairways which pressed home an idea of a transformed space – the sense of verticality has been erased creating a two-dimensional diagrammatic impression. Several days later after documenting the site, a boundary line was erected separating what was Soi 27 from Sathu Pradit Road itself. This demarcation was achieved by the use of large corrugated metal sheets, covered with a vinyl plastic on which linear illustrations advocated the notion of fashionable urban living. Visually these illustrations matched my own two-dimensional impression of the missing staircases. What this journey and its conclusion represents is a methodical and systematic approach which is highly charged in terms of my experience and its representation. What this project encapsulates is the trace and trauma of the families that were evicted and it also parallels my own unexpected and rapid exodus from the same area.