About the Photographer
Thai, b. 1970 Bangkok
Apichatpong Weerasethakul is known for his feature and short films, installations, and photographs. A native of Thailand, the artist returned to his homeland in 2008 to investigate topics of dreams and memory while researching his film, “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” (2010). The film, based on a book about a man who can remember multiple past lives in the present, is set in the northwest region of Thailand that was under Thai military control in the 1960s through the 1980s. Weerasethakul spent months filming in the small town of Nabua, where residents underwent torture and interrogation at the hands of the military who were sent to the region to combat encouraching communists from China. In addition to his interest in the complex history of the region, Weerasethakul is drawn to a local legend of a female widow spirt believed to abduct men in the town. This spirit was blamed for the dissapearence of men during the the town’s occupation by the Thai miliary, as many men fled into the surrounding jungle.
Weerasethakul continued to work in Nabua by creating short films and photographs to comprise the series and installation, Primitive (2009). In this series, Weerasethakul portrays the local teens, many of whom are decedents of the victims and witnesses of the occupation. The series aims to reconstruct memories of the so-called “widow town,” among its male teenage occupants, by a combination of reenactment, staging, and documentation of contemporary life.
Apichatpong Weerasethakul completed his BA from Khon Kaen University, Thailand (1994) and his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1997). His films have earned numerous accolades including Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, France (2010); Grand Prize, Tokyo Filmex, Tokyo, Japan (2004); International Critics’ Award, Buenos Aires Film Festival, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2003). His short films, photography, and installations have been exhibited internationally. Solo exhibitions include: Haus der Kunst, Munich (2009); Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, Liverpool, U.K. (2009); Overgaden Institute for Contemporary Art, Copenhagen, Denmark (2011); University Museum of Contemporary Art, Mexico City, Mexico (2011); The New Museum, New York, NY (2011); Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China (2011). Selected group exhibitions include: the 55th Carnegie International, Pittsburgh, PA (2009); Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney, Australia (2009); Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan (2011); Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany (2012). In 2005, Weerasethakul was awarded Silpatorn Award by Thailand’s Ministry of Culture.