Apichatpong exhibition examines violence in Thailand

A deserted cinema in Kalasin province. (Photo courtesy of Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

The 100 Tonson Foundation is holding "A Minor History", a two-part exhibition based on award-winning filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul's latest cinematic project to portray the Isan region, until Feb 27 next year.

The first part features a three-channel video installation resulting from his journey along the Mekong River during Thailand's recent pandemic lockdowns. He accumulated interviews and photographs that reflect the country's shifting political climate.

The work focuses on two encounters, beginning with a Mukdahan local who recovered the wrapped bodies of political activists found in the river, which is followed by the discovery of an old cinema theatre in Kalasin province.

The skeletal remains of the cinema, infested with pigeons, are juxtaposed with images of the nocturnal flow of the Mekong. Behind lurks a molam theatre backdrop that depicts an empty palace. Majestic colours are dimmed in darkness and, at times, illuminated by the flickering film.

The video presents a fictional story about a man and his lover strolling along the riverbank. The narration mimics an old cinema and radio drama dubbing style from a bygone era. With its hybrid form of storytelling, the installation hovers in the realms of reality and dreams, reflecting the decay of memories and representations. To Apichatpong, these lights from the road are a memorial to childhood innocence, and an awakening to the unspeakable violence in Thai society. The show is a tribute to the political dissidents whose forced disappearances linger like a myth.

The first part of "A Minor History" is running until Nov 14; the second part will start on Nov 25. The gallery is on Soi Tonson, Phloenchit Road, and opens Thursday to Sunday from 11am to 6pm.

Visit 100tonsonfoundation.org or call 02-010-5813.

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