The future may have already arrived; well, for those of us who live in Asia's cities. As is regularly and widely reported, the rapid rate of urban growth and change in this part of the world leaves most of us reeling. As soon as we begin to understand the present, it is usually already past.
But Shanghai is not Bangkok and Phnom Penh is definitely not Dubai. Beyond the broad strokes of history-unfolding-before-your-eyes, how do we understand local differences? For Bangkok, the city is typically distinguished by signs of ancient beliefs that persist on every street and in many buildings, and most postcard views. Be they glittering temples or spirit houses strategically positioned near the entrances to multiplexes or the stages in go-go bars.
Any number of artists, writers and academics have explored this conjunction of sacred practices and decadent secular consumerism, and most offer a new spin on an endlessly fascinating topic. The British artist Gareth Proskourine-Barnett recently entered the discussion.
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