Apichatpong Weerasethakul's short film Phantoms of Nabua has won the first Asia Art Award, announced yesterday in Seoul.
According to a story by The Nation, Apichatpong won a prize worth 20 million won (about $18,000).
The award ceremony also marked the opening of a group exhibition featuring Apichatpong's video installation as well as the works of the five other finalists at the Soma Museum of Art. Apichatpong will later get a solo exhibition at the museum.
The Asia Art Awards, held for the first time this year, aim to encourage and promote young Asian artists up to the age of 40.
The 10:56-minute Phantoms of Nabua, which can be viewed at the Animate Projects website, is a study in light, with boys kicking a flaming soccer ball around in the grass at night, in a field lit by Apichatpong's ubiquitous glowing fluorescent tubes and a flickering movie screen that eventually bursts into flame.
Highly symbolic on whatever level you want to think about it, Phantoms of Nabua is part of Apichatpong's large-scale Primitive art project, which examines memories in the northeastern Thailand village of Nabua, Nakhon Phanom, which was the scene of a bloody anti-communist crackdown by the Thai military in 1965.
The Korea Herald says Phantoms "portrays a communication of lights, the comfort of home and destruction" and quotes Kim So-hee, assistant curator:
Weerasethakul’s win is meaningful and unprecedented. It took a long time for photography to step into the boundary of fine art, and I think now single channel video is slowly being acknowledged as one too."
The awards exhibition runs until June 6.
It's yet another award for the much-lauded filmmaker and artist, whose past honors include the Un Certain Regard Awards at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival for Blissfully Yours and a jury prize at Cannes in 2004 from Tropical Malady.
Just last month, another short film from the Primitive project, A Letter to Uncle Boonmee, won an award in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Both Phantoms of Nabua and A Letter to Uncle Boonmee can be seen online and in various places around the world, some of which are detailed earlier.
Still to come from Apichatpong will be the feature component of Primitive, Uncle Boonmee who can Recall his Past Lives.
And there's hope that his massive seven-channel Primitive installation will get another exhibition, somewhere, sometime soon.
(Via The Nation)