€ 5 / € 3
Free admission with Fever Room ticket
In collaboration with Cinema Galeries, the Kunstenfestivaldesarts presents a focus programme on the works of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, a filmmaker and visual artist from Thailand and a key figure in 21st-century cinema. Weerasethakul has become known for his subdued and contemplative films, which have already won him many prizes. Memory and desire wander round like ghosts in his work. Transcending the boundaries of cinema, he makes fictional films and experimental documentaries as well as photos and video installations. Weerasethakul has an extraordinary feel for mystery and inertia. He relates realism to science fiction, modern to primitive, everyday life to Buddhist meditations. Memorandum is an attempt to display Weerasethakul’s course of work in all its facets. It consists of a retrospective of his short and feature films, and an exhibition of his video installations. An excellent opportunity to discover the work of this idiosyncratic artist. Do not miss it.
A retrospective of works by
Henri Dekoster, Chaisiri Jiwarangsan
Robine Petit, Lara Abdessalem
Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Cinema Galeries
Kick The Machine Films
Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest/Région de Bruxelles Capitale, Stad Brussel/Ville de Bruxelles, Thalys, Hotel Marivaux, Géné-Electra, Nationale Loterij/Loterie Nationale
Interview with Apichatpong Weerasethakul
A memorandum assists the memory by recording events or observations on a topic. What would this exhibition be a memorandum of?
Over the years my films have become my memory bank, partly because I’m not good at remembering. Often there are places, people, colours – with no other agendas. It’s also a journey into my homeland’s history.
This selection of videos and installations seems to be an example of how your more recent work has been more closely associated with your home country.
They’re always personal. I’m continually fascinated by Thailand with its layers of narratives, beauty and troubles. I found myself change through the act of recording, especially in recent years since the political situation here has taken a turn for the worse. I’m concerned about our obsession with nationalism, righteousness and spiritualism. They’ve encroached on people’s basic rights. I hope that Memorandum reflects some aspects of this journey. It’s impossible to present all the installations, but I’ve picked a diverse selection of lights, from the first video 17 years ago to fairly recent ones. To me, they match the subterranean, intimate feel of the Galeries.
In an article you wrote for Les Cahiers du cinéma this year, you mentioned the importance of ghosts in our everyday lives. In this exhibition it seems that they’re really bound up with your own life.
Yes, various kinds of ghosts have come and gone. Somehow making a film is a kind of exorcism. There were phantoms from childhood tales and television shows and there were other ones from political violence. Fact and fiction are intertwined and at a certain point don’t matter.
Sleep also seems to take on new importance in your work, from Teem (2007) to Dilbar (2013) and Cemetery of Splendour (2015).
For me, sleep is like going to the cinema. There are various scenarios that we experience at night more than from actual movies. And they’re the most relevant to us because they are from us, from our memories. I focus on sleeping and dreaming as a tool to evade reality, to find a different world or idealism. There’s definitely a political angle to it.
There will be four programmes of short films during the retrospective. How do you choose how we should experience your work?
Take your time and let them flow into you without analysing. I don’t make films that logically, but more emotionally. Sometimes the terms ‘shorts’ and ‘installations’ are interchangeable. It’s better to just treat them as ‘light’.
How has your work evolved from your first installations, like Windows (1999), up to this exhibition, especially now that you’ve added a new layer to your work with the live performance?
It’s amazing that I don’t feel that my practice has changed that much. Certainly I’ve become more aware of my country’s history, but the way I film and experiment are the same. Even the performance is basically another kind of cinema. If I have to come up with a difference, I think that when I started out I placed quite a lot of emphasis on forms. But lately I feel less restricted in finding new voices. I think it’s best just to listen to your own rhythm and translate it like a child would do.
Apichatpong Weerasethakul (b. 1970) was born in Bangkok and grew up in Khon Kaen in north-eastern Thailand. He began making film and video shorts in 1994, and completed his first feature in 2000. He has also mounted exhibitions and installations in many countries since 1998. Often non-linear, with a strong sense of dislocation, his works deal with memory, subtly addressed personal politics and social issues. His art projects and feature films have won him widespread recognition and numerous festival prizes, including two prizes from the Cannes Film Festival. In 2005 he was presented with one of Thailand’s most prestigious awards, Silpatorn, by the Thai Ministry of Culture. In 2008, the French Minister of Culture bestowed on him the medal of Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Literature). In 2011, he was given another honor for the same field with an Officer Medal. His film Syndromes and a Century, completed in late 2006, was the first Thai film to be selected for competition at the Venice Film Festival. Apichatpong Weerasethakul is also one of 20 international artists and filmmakers commissioned to create a short film for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 2009, the Austrian Film Museum published a major English language monograph on his work. His 2009 project, Primitive, consists of a large-scale video installation, an artist’s book, and a feature film, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives . The film has won a Palme d’Or prize at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival in 2010, making it the first Southeast Asian film (and the 7th from Asia) to win the most prestigious award in the film world. In 2012, he is invited to participate in documenta (13), one of the most well-known art exhibitions in Kassel, Germany. Apichatpong Weerasethakul also received the Sharjah Biennial Prize at the 2013 Sharjah Biennial 11, UAE. He’s also a recipient of the Fukuoka Prize, Japan, 2013. In late 2014, he received the Yanghyun Art Prize, one of the most prestigious prizes in Korea. In 2016, a retrospective of his films was presented at Tate Britain, UK. Apichatpong Weerasethakul currently works and lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Apichatpong Weerasethakul at the Kunstenfestivaldesarts
2005: Worldly Desires