Apichatpong Weerasethakul: The Serenity of Madness, the artist’s first solo exhibition in Hong Kong. One of the most original filmmakers and artists of our time, Apichatpong Weerasethakul has developed a distinctive language which approaches fragments of life, from passing gestures to the great cycles, from the often occurring to the unseen, in arresting and compelling narratives. Deeply invested in the life, culture, spirituality, and struggles of the people excluded by the elite nationalist project of the Thai state—primarily the people of Isan, the region of his upbringing—many of Weerasethakul’s works hail from within these universes. They employ historical allusions, myths, codes and visual language, but most importantly references to the contemporary vernacular and political struggles of the marginalised strata of Thai society. Weerasethakul does not, however, document this world from the outside, he employs its intimate vocabularies, creating deeply original artworks and films that can be seen as both part of a living contemporary folklore of the lower classes in Thailand and pieces of universal relevancy in our contemporary world. Often read as surrealist, Weerasethakul’s works contain however deeply coherent and carefully constructed parameters, with narratives following a specific logic and references that are not devoid of humour or satiric intentions.
“The Serenity of Madness” includes a selected survey of rarely-seen experimental short films and video installations by Weerasethakul, alongside his sculpture, photography, drawings, sketches, and archival material.
Apichatpong Weerasethakul was born in 1970 in Bangkok and raised in the north-eastern Thai city of Khon Kaen. Working independently of the Thai commercial film industry, he is active in promoting experimental and independent filmmaking through his company Kick the Machine, which he founded in 1999. With Gridthiya Gaweewong he founded the Bangkok Experimental Film Festival in 1997, and presented it three more times through 2008. His work has been presented widely in art and film contexts internationally, including the Sharjah Biennial in the UAE (2013), dOCUMENTA 13 in Kassel, Germany (2012), Liverpool Biennial (2006), Busan Biennial (2004), the Istanbul Biennial (2001), and in solo and group exhibitions at art spaces including Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; New Museum, New York; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; and Musée d’Art Modern de la Ville de Paris. Weerasethakul’s 2009 film, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, won a Palme d’Or prize at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival. His feature films include: Cemetery of Splendour (2015), Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010), Syndromes and a Century (2006), Tropical Malady (2004), The Adventures of Iron Pussy (2003), Blissfully Yours (2002), and Mysterious Object at Noon (2000).
Apichatpong Weerasethakul: The Serenity of Madness is a traveling exhibition curated by Gridthiya Gaweewong and produced by Independent Curators International (ICI), New York. The exhibition and tour are made possible, in part, with the generous support from MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, Chiang Mai, the ICI Board of Trustees and ICI’s International Forum. The presentation at Para Site has been organized in collaboration with Cosmin Costinas.
- Apichatpong Weerasethakul, TEEM Nov 20, 1997. Video. Courtesy of Kick The Machine Films.