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Apichatpong Weerasethakul: Phantoms of Nabua

Apichatpong Weerasethakul: Phantoms of Nabua (detail)

Exhibition preview

THE BFI Gallery, in association with Animate Projects, is presenting the UK premiere of Phantoms of Nabua, the first London solo exhibition by acclaimed Thai filmmaker and artist Apichatpong Weerasethakul. It will be on display from May 14 to July 4, 2010.

Weerasethakul (b.1970) creates work for both cinema and gallery exhibition with astounding results. Cannes Film Festival prize winner, and nominee for the 2010 Hugo Boss Prize, he has created Phantoms of Nabua, an ethereal portrait of a town in north east Thailand.

Phantoms of Nabua is described by the artist as ‘a portrait of home… a communication of lights, the lights that exude on the one hand the comfort of home and, on the other, of destruction’.

In the work teenagers play football at night illuminated by a rear projection of lightning and fireworks and a recreation of a fluorescent light pole from the artist’s hometown. Even though these lights make the skin look pale and ghost-like, for Weerasethakul they also relate to home, to being home.

Phantoms of Nabua is a part of Weerasethakul’s Primitive project created in what is now a sleepy village in the northeast of Thailand. But Nabua’s atmosphere hides a history of violent clashes. From the 1960s to the 1980s Thailand’s totalitarian government militia occupied this part of Thailand in order to curb communist insurgents.

Filming these teenage descendents of the Thai rebel-farmers is Weerasethakul’s poetic reflection on catastrophic political events as well as an exploration of personal politics and social issues. Focusing on concepts of rememberance and extinction, the atmospheric single screen projection transforms the gallery into a haunting and mysterious space.

Primitive is a multi-platform project which includes Weerasethakul’s seven screen installation, an artist’s book, a short film, and a feature film.

Phantoms of Nabua was commissioned by Animate Projects, with Haus der Kunst, Munich and FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), Liverpool and is produced by Illuminations Films, London and Kick the Machine Films, Bangkok.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul was born in Bangkok in 1970. He is an independent film director, screenwriter and film producer. His films have received numerous awards including prizes at the Cannes and Venice film festivals. His video installations and other works have attracted great acclaim at major international exhibitions, as did the installation Primitive when it was presented in Munich, Liverpool and Paris last year.

His feature films include Tropical Malady which won the Jury Prize at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, Blissfully Yours which won the top prize in the Un Certain Regard programme at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival and Syndromes and Century which premiered at the 63rd Venice Film Festival and, in a recent major poll, was judged the best film of the last decade. He lives and works in Thailand.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul in conversation on Tuesday, May 25 at 6.20pm (tbc) NFT3.

Admission: Free.

Times: Tuesday to Sundays (and Bank Holiday Mondays): 12 noon to 8pm.

BFI Gallery, BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road , London, SE1 8XT

Tel: Daily Information: 020 7633 0274; Box office: 020 7928 3232