The Arts

A Minor History by Apichatpong Weerasethakul


The filmmaker's exhibition is a poetic reflection of Thailand’s northeastern region

Having recently released the new film Memoria which took home a Jury Prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival, Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul has an upcoming art installation at Bangkok’s 100 Tonson Foundation—A Minor History.

Apichatpong grew up in Khon Kaen, the northeastern part of Thailand, A Minor History consists of a two-part exhibition in Apichatpong’s ongoing cinematic portrayal of Thailand’s northeastern region, Isan. During Thailand’s recent pandemic lockdowns, the filmmaker embarked on a journey along the Mekong River and accumulated photographs and interviews that reflect the country’s shifting political climate making it his first installment of the exhibition, a three-channel video installation. The artist creates a type of poem which floats between realms of reality and dreams, reflecting on memories and beliefs as well as storytelling, both traditional and contemporary shaping society and personal identity.

Influenced by the ongoing pandemic and Thailand’s political situation, the piece concentrates on two encounters, starting with a Mukdahan local who discovered the wrapped bodies of political activists found in the river, followed by the discovery of an old cinema theatre in Kalasin province. Infested with pigeons, the skeletal remains of the cinema are connected with images of the nocturnal flow of the Mekong. 

Helping with the audio component is his longtime sound designer, Akritchalerm Kalayanamitr, while a young Isan poet, Mek Krung Fah (the half-cloudy sky) joins in a first-time collaboration. Impersonating a man and his lover strolling along the riverbank, the narration mimics radio drama and old cinema dubbing style from a bygone era.

The filmmaker is no stranger to the influence of politics. To Apichatpong, these lights from the road are a memorial to childhood innocence, and an awakening to the unspeakable violence in Thai society. Most importantly, the show is a tribute to the political dissidents whose forced disappearance lingers like a myth.

A Minor History is scheduled to be on view from August 2021 through  February 2022 at 100 Tonson Foundation. Call 02 010 5813 or 098 789 6100.

Part One - 19 August – 14 November 2021

Part Two - 25 November 2021 – 27 February 2022