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Musée d'Art Moderne

Apichatpong Weerasethakul Primitive
Apichatpong Weerasethakul Primitive, 2009. Courtesy Kick the Machine Films, Bangkok. Crédits : 2009 Kick the Machine Films. Photo: Chaisiri Jiwarangsan


Apichatpong Weerasethakul

From 01/10/09 to 03/01/10
Curator: Angéline Scherf

ARC presents Primitive, a recent work by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the acclaimed Thai artist and film-maker.

Drawing on sources of inspiration ranging from Buddhism to popular culture, from soap operas to folklore, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's videos focus on individual and collective memory. Endowed with very real artistic and visual qualities, they also explore the present Thai cultural system.

The exhibition features eight short works shot in Nabua, a village in north-east Thailand which had been occupied by the Thai army from the 1960’s to the 1980’s to control communist insurgents.

Primitive is inspired by A Man Who Can Recall His Past Lives, a book whose author, a monk, recounts the former lives of a man called Boonmee. Based on the questioning of memory, history and myth, Primitive is a protean project including the installation, two short films, an artist’s book and a forthcoming feature in which Boonmee will appear.

In different scenes, we witness the activities of local teenagers: the building of a wooden spaceship, a football match with a burning ball... Apichatpong Weerasethakul paints the portrait of an unchanging youth, the descendants of communist farmers emancipated from their past.

Like his films, nature is at the centre of this work which is made up of impressions of light and memory. The narrative is often secondary, the emphasis falling rather on immersion in a mental world where boundaries fade to nothing. Primitive is about reincarnation and transformation. It is a celebration of destructive force in nature and in us that burns in order to be born and mutate.

The installation will be exhibited in conjunction with a quartet of photographs made during the artist’s stay in Nabua and the installation version of the short film Phantoms of Nabua.


Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Born in Bangkok in 1970, Apichatpong Weerasethakul lives and works in Bangkok and in Chiangmai, in Thailand. The son of doctors, Apichatpong spent his childhood in Konkaen, to the north-east of Thailand. He obtained a degree in architecture from the University of Konikaen and a Masters in Cinema from the Chicago Institute of Arts in 1994.

He has been making short films since 1994, and a first full-length film in 2000 (Mysterious Object at Noon). In 1999, he created Kick the Machine, a company producing and promoting videos and independent films. His artistic projects have earned him wide international recognition and many prizes, notably at the Cannes festival (jury prize in 2004 for Tropical Malady).


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