Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Apichatpong Weerasethakul, FAITH (installation view), 2006

Apichatpong Weerasethakul, FAITH (installation view), 2006

Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s (b.1970, Thailand) films are like open architecture which exists between fiction and reality, fantasies and memories, and in which the inhabitants (professional and non-professional actors) participate in creating and portraying the characters as well as in determining the structure of the films themselves.

Even the audience is invited to fill in the voids constructed as the films’ endless points of departure and return. The collaborative filming process blends a range of Thai cinema and entertainment genres, including documentary, sci-fi, soap operas and chat-shows, and results in dialogue fragments and storylines which are as fascinating as they are enigmatic.

Often set in villages and jungles of the artist’s homeland, the works suggest the chaotic and dystopian characteristics of our time, in which narratives and identities as well as actions constantly confront the ruptures and turbulent uncertainties of wider society. Free and often abstract and experimental, these works are sketches and studies of concepts to be explored and developed. Usually produced by Weerasethakul without others’ involvement, they reveal the original motifs and perspectives at the heart of his work.

Coined the Godfather of independent Thai cinema, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s films are ecstatic and mysterious stories of love, ghosts and Buddhist fables. Informed by his childhood fascination with Thai soap operas, talk shows and horror films, his use of montage, recurring characters and motifs results in a cacophony of interwoven images and an elusive, ongoing dialogue.

Through his feature-length and short films, Weerasethakul explores the relationships between memory, fantasy and reality. Beginnings, middles and ends are swapped around and genres blur into each other. He seeks the ideas of others, including production crew and actors, to determine how storylines and characters will evolve. In doing so, he relinquishes the role of authorship commonly associated with the title of ‘director’, simply taking credit for the conception of his films.

Narratives are fragmented, characters disappear and reappear; even the traditional distinctions between director, cast and crew are put aside in favour of a collaborative creative process. The results are enigmatic, fascinating, and often very moving. Weerasethakul’s two-screen installation for International 06 entitled FAITH (2006) was a poignant portrayal of one man’s dreams of eternal love within a turbulent world of change and loss.

FAITH was a tender portrait of lost love and transformation. Surrounded by perpetual change and the fear of new memories replacing old, a man dreams of an eternal place, where the image of his loved ones can live on. The film moved between the genres of romance and sci-fi to create an intimate bid for remembrance and a poignant tribute to a city undergoing its own transformation.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul at Liverpool Biennial 2006 

FAITH, 2006 

Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2006
Exhibited at FACT

Supported by

Camera Corner, Bangkok, Thailand 
Siamlite Film Services, Bangkok, Thailand