Thursday, December 1, 2011

Apichatpong-a-rama: Primitive in Bangkok, For Tomorrow, For Tonight in Beijing, In the Woods in Japan

Apichatpong Weerasethakul's multi-platform art exhibition Primitive finally makes its way to Bangkok after touring the world for the past couple of years or so.

It opens today at the Jim Thompson Art Center and runs until February 29.

Part of the same project as the acclaimed feature Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, the video installation Primitive is an intimate look at the village of Nabua, Nakhon Phanom, along the Mekong in northeastern Thailand. It was there in 1965 that the Royal Thai Army staged a massacre during an anti-communist offensive.

Primitive deals with ghosts of that violent past. The seven-channel video installation also offers a slice-of-life look at the young men of Nabua and includes a music video by Moderndog and a behind-the-scenes film of the building of a spaceship – just one of the art projects Apichatpong came up with as a way of engaging the villagers in his project.

Commissioned by Haus Der Kunst, Munich, with FACT Liverpool and Animate Projects and produced by Illuminations Films, London, Primitive has previously shown in Munich, Liverpool, Paris, New York and the Yokohama Triennale. I checked it out at New York's New Museum earlier this year and am glad I'll be able to see how it fits into Bangkok. The Jim Thompson Art Center is on Kasemsan Soi 2, near the National Stadium skytrain station. It's open daily from 9 to 5.

Meanwhile, Apichatpong's been in Beijing, where his latest art installation For Tomorrow, Tonight has been showing at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art. There's more about this new project at the Wall Street Journal Scene Asia blog.

Apichatpong himself has been in Beijing to screen a retrospective of 20 of his features and shorts and give talks. The retrospective program runs until December 11.

Coverage of the Beijing event includes an interview with City Weekend, in which Apichatpong says he's still hoping to make Utopia ("set in the snow plains in Canada with a giant spaceship") and he offers a list of other Thai filmmakers to watch.

They also bring up the Japanese earthquake short Apichatpong did as part of 3.11 A Sense of Home. It was screened at last month's Asiana International Short Film Festival in Seoul, and features works by 21 filmmakers, including South Korea's Bong Joon-ho, China's Jia Zhang-ke and Japan's Naomi Kawasi. There's also an animation by Japan-based Wisut Ponnimit. Apichatpong's quake short is called Monsoon. All the shorts are 3 minutes and 11 seconds.

There's more coverage of Apichatpong in Beijing in the China Daily, headlined "Sleep-watching Weerasethakul". And People's Daily Online has a photo gallery.

Coming up, there will be a four-film retrospective, Apichatpong in the Woods, at the Baust Theater in Tokyo from January 28 to February 10. They'll screen Mysterious Object of Noon, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Tropical Malady and Blissfully Yours.

(Thanks Logboy!)

1 comment:

  1. It seems we just missed each other in NY. I was there over summer and was so delighted to have caught Primitive days before it ended its run. I was so lucky to have come across a mention of it although I wish I could have spend more time in the exhibit. I had planned to spend two days there but on one day, I got my directions mixed up and only got to the New Museum 20 minutes before it was going to close. So I didn't bother going in and returned on another day. Still, I felt truly lucky to have seen it.


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