Apichatpong Weerasethakul: Primitive



All'Hangar Bicocca, interesting art space in Milan, is host for over a month and disturbing the mammoth (especially for its total duration) video installation by Thai director Weerasenthakul. The project, that takes the form of a film called Primitive, is a work that crosses most versatile forms of audiovisual enjoyment, which still take full arms by the lines of documentary and corresponds to a project carried out together with the people of Nabua, in the North-East of Thailand, that by staging certain situations under the watchful eye of the camera Apichapong, commemorate the violent repression that took place in the village between the 1960 e l’80.

Making us interact with 10 locations in which the image is projected on different materials and offered in a manner both active and passive and harnessing the power of figures, rhythms, sounds, as well as a very clever use of poor means, such as fire, which is the core of the culture of the place, the director manages to give life to a universe of reality “other”. Young serene and very contemporary look, is the post-punk, live in the present, involved in this game of interpretation of a fairy tale of magical realism, almost unconsciously evoking all the ghosts of the past of the place.

In this way, pursuing a truly unique plot that opens with the music of Modern Dog, in a clip in which the local boys, included in a liberating gesture, dancing on a truck and also offer in terms of sizes and framing, the model of the music video, paradoxically leads to relive the experience of the trench, with the common sleep locked in tight spaces and driven by dreams that lead beyond the time and space, a spaceship that blends with nature and lightning night that shake the silence of the place as rumbles of bombs. The roar of the wind, the sound of rain, fill infinite expectations saturated with melancholy and the boys in camouflage live the expectations of the place, while learning to shoot, scrutinized the faces of the people killed in the village, looking at them from the walls of piles that seem to belong to another dimension, juxtaposed to a Hello Kitty balloon flying. Contemporary music merges with ancient ballads re-proposed with guitar in hand and you can get lost in melancholy gaze of a young, while archetypal figures and fairytale through giant fields that catch fire. There is something terrible in the image seemingly static Weerasenthakul, of almost horrorific: rest becomes blood red, the movie screen catches fire and the game of football becomes noise of mine jumping. Eventually, the light of a projector is watching you…and almost psychedelic visual game becomes political. To contemplation and the apparent calm of memory overlap life, the dead, the perception of violence and destruction, evoked by flames, however, become something very natural, perfectly integrated in the circle of life.

To understand the work of this artist, it took me some time and a double vision: I look better now that I appreciate it very much, because it is something that I have not actually ever seen, completely outside the box and that is not responding to any model of video art that I personally have met, if not in contrast with the immediate fruition expected and in one fell swoop close to the documentary film, to Asia, but also to manga, the fairy tale and the painting. I've never seen an intersection of gender and so successful, but unfortunately I suspect that many will not understand it: because it takes time, patience and a look that knows how to observe, much in contrast with the rhythms of our daily lives and the average user of such art forms (To possess mi sbaglio…rather, I hope so).