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PRIMITIVE - An Art Exhibition by Apichatpong Weerasethakul

The Jim Thompson Art Center proudly presents for the first time in Thailand, PRIMITIVE, a solo exhibition by internationally renowned independent filmmaker and artist, Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Commissioned by Haus Der Kunst, Munich, Germany in 2009, PRIMITIVE is a multidisciplinary art project, the result of a research trip which inspired the filmmaker to create, “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives”. This film was premiered in France and received the prestigious Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010. The Primitive project is about re-imagining an area of Thailand called Nabua, a small town in Nakornpanom, a place where memories and ideologies are extinct. It deals with time and spaces where memories of places were subdued and not remembered by the inhabitants due to the ideological and political conflicts of the cold war.

Primitive project was the result of Apichatpong’s research trip for the making of a new film. He visited a temple near his hometown where a monk gave him a little book called “A Man Who Can Recall His Past Lives.” In it, the monk wrote about Boonmee, who could recall his multiple past lives in cities of Isan, the northeast Thailand. In 2008, the artist after traveling in the region in search of surviving offsprings and relatives wrote a screenplay inspired by the reincarnation of Boonmee. As a result he eventually developed three separate projects: Primitive, a multidisciplinary art project; CUJO, the book series and Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, the film.

According to Apichatpong, “The initial idea of the artworks has since branched out and mutated into various forms. There was no link to Boonmee here except that the village is also full of repressed memories. It is the manifestation of someone who has created various fictional scenarios in order to implant a memory into a place. First we build a spaceship. I always dreamed of making a movie with a spaceship. When could there be a better time to do so than now in Thailand? And somehow Nabua is a perfect place for this vehicle to land and to introduce the idea of a journey, an escape, and a disappearance. The spaceship’s form was sketched out by one of the teens and its metal skeletons were welded together by their elders, their fathers. It is about reincarnation and transformation. The work is a celebration of the destructive forces in nature and in us which burn in order to create mutation and rebirth.”

The Primitive project consists of books, photographs, video installations and music videos. The multi-modal nature of this installation draws viewers across lapses of time, space and memories.

Since 2009 the PRIMITIVE Installation has been shown in Haus Der Kunst, Munich, Germany; FACT, United Kingdom, Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, France and New Museum, New York, USA. Subsequently the work became part of the art collections of Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom and Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, France.

About Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Apichatpong was born in Bangkok and grew up in Khon Kaen in northeastern Thailand. He holds a degree in Architecture from Khon Kaen University and a Master of Fine Arts in Filmmaking from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He began making film and video shorts in 1994, and completed his first feature in 2000. Since 1998 he has mounted numerous exhibitions and installations in many countries.

Often non-linear, with a strong sense of dislocation, his works deal with memory and subtly address personal politics and social issues. Working independently of the Thai commercial film industry, he is active in promoting experimental and independent filmmaking through his company Kick the Machine, founded in 1999.

His art projects and feature films have won him widespread international 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 for visual artists, Silpatorn, by the Thai Ministry of Culture. In 2008, he became the first artist to receive the Fine Prize from the 55th Carnegie International, USA. Also in 2008, the French Minister of Culture and Communications 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, Apichatpong was bestowed with another medal by the French government, L'Officier des Arts et des Lettres (second class) for his lifelong contributions to international art and cultural activities.

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. He also completed a short film Vampire which was commissioned for Louis Vuitton and premiered at the Espace Louis Vuitton in Paris. The film reflects on foreign laborers in Thailand. Apart from the Primitive project with its installation and feature film, he was one of 22 international artists and filmmakers who were commissioned to create a short film for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 2009, Australian Film Museum published a book about Apichatpong’s works in English.

In 2010, “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” was selected for competition in the 63rd Cannes Film Festival. It was first Thai and Southeast Asian film (and one of seven Asian films) in the history of the famous film festival to win the Palme d’Or award.

In 2011, Apichatpong exhibited an installation piece called, “For Tomorrow for Tonight” in Dublin, Ireland and Beijing, China. The topic was about the Mekong River and the hometown of the actress Jenjira who is from the province of Nong-Khai. Recently, he directed a documentary film called “Mekong Hotel”, for Arte television channel in France, starring the same actress. He lives and works in Chiangmai, Thailand

This exhibition is made possible with the support of The James H.W. Thompson Foundation and the Thai Silk Company Limited. The Goethe Institute, Bangkok, Thai Contemporary Art Museum, and DC Asset.
Special thanks: Khun Boonyapha Bencharongkul, Dr. Norbert Splitz and Dr. Dispahol Chansiri and supernormal studio co.,ltd

For further information, please contact
Khun Penwadee Nophaket Manont
Tel: 02 612 6741 02 219 2911
Mobile: 084 709 3440
E-mail: penwadee@jimthompsonhouse.com, artcenter@jimthompsonhouse.com

The Jim Thompson Art Center
6 Kasemsan soi 2, Rama 1 Road, Patumwan, Bangkok 10330