Fireworks (archives), 2014
The Vapor of Melancholy, 2014
Power Boy (From For Tomorrow For Tonight), 2011
While capturing the frenetic flowing and throbbing of this electric world, Thai filmmaker and visual artist Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who won the Palme d'Or in Cannes in 2010, takes us into the depths of the night, across the thrilling, organic darkness of the jungle, into the depths of a land of ghosts and apparitions. Echoes of the political conflicts in a country so close to the abyss release a surge of dreams and the power of a territory on the cusp of reality and dreams, darkness and light – a refuge in which another world can be imagined. "Cinema is a creator of a surreal life," wrote Apollinaire in 1909, and one can see how Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s films give shape to enigmatic presences that seek to preserve, in a faintly evanescent form, a living image of things destined to disappear, or to be reborn. In the black night of Fireworks (Archives), the fireworks sporadically light up different portions of an enigmatic construction. Silhouettes of concrete animals give way to hybrid figures, or religious representations that are by turns Buddhist or Hindu. The temple where Apichatpong Weerasethakul shot this film is in north-eastern Thailand and was built by Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat, a mystic who fled the communist revolution in neighbouring Laos in 1975. Apichatpong’s interest in this temple stems mainly from its links with the difficult past of the region, and the whole country: "For me, the temple references the history [of this area]. It is the evidence of a revolt. The fact that [Sulilat] was not recognized or supported by the state is a sign of the independence of this man. He was free to commission unconventional sculptures. Free, but at the same time forced to struggle, and dream."
Two photographs accompany the film. The Vapour of Melancholy shows the artist's partner, in bed, as if surrounded by an explosion of fireworks. Power Boy (From For Tomorrow For Tonight) is taken from the movie of the same name and shows a young man in the distance, who seems to be wrapped in a wreath of light, as if the intoxicating light had entered the realm of dream.
With backing from Kurimanzutto, Mexico City and Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London