"Thailand has long been known as the sex capital of Asia, and according to a survey in 2004, there are approximately 800,000 underage prostitutes in Thailand and the money being traded at 4.3 billion per year or three percent of Thai economy. This alarming number has put Thailand on the top of the list of underage sexual exploitation according to the U.N.
Underage is a photographic documentation aimed at understanding the minds of these underage male prostitutes in a most candid and visceral way. I want the process to uncover a bit of the life, choice, and consequences that these young boys are experiencing.
Underage prostitution results from several reasons, from being molested by family members and/or relatives, poverty, being a runaway, and drug addiction.
This project is multi-layered and complex in its nature. Psychologically, the project offers provocative and haunting portraits of these lost souls. The visual is visceral and represents an ugly mess and deep-rooted problems of family, teenage years in Thailand, and society. The personal data of each subject is included to offer an insight and to peep into their lives and journey to the opposite side of norms, tradition, and perception. In addition, sexual identification and orientation are being questioned and investigated. While most subjects identify themselves as heterosexual young boys who come to terms with having sex with gay guys for money, almost all of them have never had sex with females. Many of them reason that all men must go through having sex with gay guys in order to understand how to have sex with females when such time comes.
I want the images to act as a mirror reflecting the rotten reality of child abuse and exploitation. I also want the images to pose painful questions about life, choice, consequences, and of humanity. Lastly, I hope the project will shed some light about this pervasive situation, raising questions for us about society, corruption, morals, and human treatment.
Also desire, innocence, corruption maturity of the observer, customer, and prostitute…when we look at the pictures, we take the part of both…the boy and the buyer…Mirror neurons"- Ohm Phanphiroj