Baan Si Daam is another one of Chiang Rai’s more interesting art spaces, often described as the opposite of the White Temple nearby. Personally I think its a little lazy to compare the two, although they are two compounds of buildings with seemingly opposite messages, they are also completely different. With both buildings having their own dark messages to tell. White the White Temple is a temple based around an artists work, the Black house is more of an artists lifelong collection and gallery, with a focus on the dark and morbid (such as animal bones, skins, weapons and other art pieces referencing death and decay).
The art space is a project of Thai artist Thawan Duchanee and is also his home, he was the mentor of Ajarn Charlemchai who built the White Temple. Walking around you’ll find elephant skeletons, massive drums made of animal rawhide, antique firearms, snakeskins, huge tables and chairs decorated with buffalo horns and much more. While we were visiting there was an exhibition of local artists, with paintings, sculptures and more that you can view. The pieces have been described as the “artists vision of hell“, but again I find this a strange thing to say and possibly a western description, as there isn’t really a “Hell” in the Bhuddist belief system. The Black House is definitely one of the more interesting places I’ve visited in Thailand, and well worth a visit if you are travelling in the North. If you like your things dark and edgy (and possibly if you are a metal fan, this place could make an amazing backdrop for a metal video), Baan Si Daam is the place for you!
How to find the Black House, Baan Dam
414 Moo 13 Nanglae, Muang, Chiang Rai, 57100
Ok, so this place isn’t terribly easy to find and its about a 30 minute motorbike ride north from the White Temple. Head north through the township of Chiang Mai towards the Mai Sai border. The Black House is about 12km outside of the city.
You’ll go over a bridge, pass the airport and the university and you will be close. You’ll see a purple sign (these are all over Chiang Rai for various artists) that will have “National Artist Thawan Duchanee”, you’ll need to turn left into this soi.The road is flooded so you’ll need to mount the pavement and drive down the soi, taking another turn when you see a sign for “Baan Dam” then follow the road until the end. There is parking space across the street for cars and bikes.