Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Phantoms of Nabua to appear in London

Fresh from winning the first Asia Art Award, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's short film Phantoms of Nabua will screen as an installation in London starting next month.

It's the first London solo exhibition by Apichatpong, a two-time winner at the Cannes Film Festival and nominee for the 2010 Hugo Boss Prize.

Phantoms of Nabua, according to Animate Projects, which commissioned the film, is "an ethereal portrait of a town in northeast Thailand, using natural and artificial light to exude the comfort of home, a sense of destruction, and to explore place and memory."

It's part of the multi-platform Primitive project, which focuses on a concept of remembrance and extinction.

You can listen and watch "Joei" Apichatpong talk about his Primitive project in a video interview at Animate Projects, in which he talks about growing films while the villagers grow rice and building a spaceship.

Still hoping to see the whole Primitive exhibit someday.

As for Phantoms of Nabua, I've watched it quite a few times online at the Animate Projects website, and it gives me chills. Layers upon layers.

As an installation, out in the wild, Phantoms must be pretty powerful, seeing how it won the 39-year-old artist and filmmaker the first Asia Art Award, a distinction Joei told the Japan Times was "surreal".

Meanwhile, Phantoms is wrapping up a run in Tokyo on April 17.

The Japan Times checked out the exhibition at Scai the Bathhouse. Jon Lowther describes it:

Phantoms of Nabua (2009) ... is placed at the heart of the Native Land exhibition. Enshrouded in nightfall, lightning repeatedly strikes a small village, producing ghostly plumes of smoke. The dark silhouetted figures of an anti-social mob emerge as they proceed to play soccer with a raging ball of fire and wreak havoc on a burning landscape. Mysterious nocturnal events unfold in video work Vampire (2008), too, as the viewer follows a nighttime pursuit of a legendary bird that feeds on animal blood.

Viewed as an audiovisual diptych, these works seemingly contrive to portray fleeting moments of light within darkness that are loaded with the hidden memories, histories and legends of a given location.

In Phantoms of Nabua, Weerasethakul states: "The film portrays a communication of lights, the lights that exude, on the one hand, the comfort of home and, on the other, of destruction."

In London, Phantoms of Nabua will be screened at BFI Southbank from May 14 to July 4.


  1. Is the nabua depicted in your film , the same as the village close to Nakhon Thai and next to the villages Nam Towaan and Ban Noon ? Would it be possible to find out?
    Thank You

  2. I posted the last comment on the location of the village of Nabua. Since then I have discovered there are 12 or 13 villages in Thailand that are named Nabua. The odds of it being my wifes village are now one in 12 or 13 . But, I would still like to know where the village depicted in the film is located. I enjoy reading this web page , it very interesting.
    Thanks Again


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