HomePage Artists

b. 1970, Thailand

Apichatpong Weerasethakul Biography

The winner of 2010 Palme d'Or, Apichatpong 'Joe' Weerasethakul is an internationally renowned Thai independent filmmaker and artist. He currently lives and works in Chiang Mai, a hub of folk art and crafts in Thailand. Born in 1970 in a Thai-Chinese middle-class family, Weerasethakul grew up in Khon Kaen, Isaan, a city in Northeast Thailand that is one of the most impoverished regions and a melting pot of Vietnamese and Cambodian cultures, where his parents practiced medicine.

Read More

Weerasethakul's interest in moving images sprung from an early age, but in Thailand there was no film course, so in 1994 he attained his bachelor's degree in architecture—his second favorite discipline—at Khon Kaen University. In 1997, Weerasethakul completed his master's degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), where he studied film.

After graduating, Weerasethakul returned to Thailand intending to start producing films; however, due to financial hardship, he only made video recordings. At the time, his friend Gridthiya Gaweewong founded Project 403 Gallery, so Weerasethakul got to debut his features in the contemporary art scene, demonstrating his aptitude for video installations. In the exhibition format, Weerasethakul presented his first long film, Mysterious Object at Noon (2000), where he randomly interviewed Thai citizens as well as countrymen from rural Bangkok, inviting them to tell stories. Structured in a linear fashion, the narrative oscillates between reality and fiction, demonstrating Weerasethakul's attempt to blur the line between documentary and drama.

Weerasethakul is not a filmmaker who restricts his cinematic practice to art; he sees intersections between art and filmmaking. In an interview with BOMB Magazine, he said: 'I am interested in time because I feel that time in installation and video, and then time in a film, are two different things. There are different rules. Film time is fixed time. It's linear. This has been said often. Whereas in a gallery, it's acknowledged that audiences are the ones who control time ...'.

Weerasethakul's work has featured in many group exhibitions around the world since 1998. Blissfully Yours, a 125-minute feature film about the forbidden love between a Thai woman and an illegal Burmese immigrant won him the Un Certain Regard programme prize at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. Later, his long film Tropical Malady (2004) won a jury prize at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives established Weerasethakul as an internationally recognised independent filmmaker outside of the purview of Thailand's film industry.

In addition to the depiction of memory and the oscillation between documentation and fiction, Weerasethakul's films are political. The armed struggle of anti-communist forces spearheaded by the government of Thailand is still present in the rural lsaan—one of his filming locations—and with his father being a parliamentary representative of the Democratic Party, Weerasethakul's Thailand is not 'the Land of Smiles' but a social complex in which reality, history, and religion collide and clash.

Weerasethakul used to produce shorts before making long films. For instance, A Letter to Uncle Boonmee (2009) was shot before Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. He confesses that these shorts are like 'sketch(es) of mood or investigation(s)'. Having investigated the occupation of Nabua by the government of Thailand during the 1970s anti-communist movement, Weerasethakul created a scenario about a spaceship in a gallery installation Primitive (2009), which later informed the creation of A Letter to Uncle Boonmee and then the feature film _Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Live_s. For Weerasethakul, the low budget and the uninhibited freedom of video installation enabled him to grasp what is possible in long films. In an interview with Ocula Magazine in 2014, the artist said that 'Film for me is something I reserve for features. I view it like an arrangement of memories.'

As a Thai independent filmmaker, Weerasethakul currently runs his production studio, Kick the Machine Films. He has moved his production out of Thailand due to the censorship there. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Silver Screen Award: Young Cinema Award, Singapore International Film Festival (2003); the Prix du Jury, Cannes Film Festival (2004); and the Chevalier de l'ordre des arts et des lettres (2008). His artworks are collected by Tate, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Centre Pompidou, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, M+, and others. Significant exhibitions include Primitive, New Museum, New York (2011); For Tomorrow For Tonight, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2011); and The Serenity of Madness, Taipei Fine Arts Museum (2019).

Biography by Penny Liu | Ocula | 2020

Apichatpong Weerasethakul Featured Artworks

View All (10)
Spaceship with Dog, Nabua, 2008 by Apichatpong Weerasethakul contemporary artwork
Apichatpong WeerasethakulSpaceship with Dog, Nabua, 2008, 2013Lambda print
58.8 x 90 cm
SCAI The Bathhouse Contact Gallery
The Vapour of Melancholy by Apichatpong Weerasethakul contemporary artwork
Apichatpong WeerasethakulThe Vapour of Melancholy, 2014Lightjet print on Duratrands, Lightbox
80 x 120 cm
SCAI The Bathhouse Contact Gallery
Memoria, Nuqui by Apichatpong Weerasethakul contemporary artwork
Apichatpong WeerasethakulMemoria, Nuqui, 2017Giclee print
63 x 83.5 x 4.5 cm
SCAI The Bathhouse Contact Gallery
Ashes by Apichatpong Weerasethakul contemporary artwork
Apichatpong WeerasethakulAshes, 2012Single channel video, 16:9, Dolby 5.1, color
SCAI The Bathhouse Contact Gallery
Fiction by Apichatpong Weerasethakul contemporary artwork
Apichatpong WeerasethakulFiction, 2018Single-channel video glass projection
ShanghART Contact Gallery
Blue by Apichatpong Weerasethakul contemporary artwork
Apichatpong WeerasethakulBlue, 2018Single-channel HD video, 5:1 audio, colour. 12 minutes 16 seconds.
ShanghART Contact Gallery
Ashes by Apichatpong Weerasethakul contemporary artwork
Apichatpong WeerasethakulAshes, 2012Video, 20 mins 15 secs
Jane Lombard Gallery Contact Gallery
Self-Protraite (Shadows) by Apichatpong Weerasethakul contemporary artwork
Apichatpong WeerasethakulSelf-Protraite (Shadows), 2016Lambda C-type print, Fuji crystal velvet paper colour
73.3 x 130 cm
ShanghART Contact Gallery

Apichatpong Weerasethakul Recent Exhibitions

View All (5)
Contemporary art exhibition, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, The Serenity of Madness at Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei
Closed
30 November 2019–15 March 2020 Apichatpong Weerasethakul The Serenity of Madness Taipei Fine Arts MuseumTaipei
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Summer Wind Flirts among Words 夏风惹来一堆字 at ShanghART, Shanghai
Closed
27 July–28 August 2019 Group Exhibition Summer Wind Flirts among Words 夏风惹来一堆字 ShanghARTWestbund, Shanghai
Contemporary art exhibition, Geng Jianyi, Liang Shaoji, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Artist Trio Show at ShanghART, Beijing
Closed
13 July–25 August 2019 Geng Jianyi, Liang Shaoji, Apichatpong Weerasethakul Artist Trio Show ShanghARTBeijing

Apichatpong Weerasethakul Represented By

ShanghART contemporary art gallery in Singapore ShanghART Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore

Apichatpong Weerasethakul In Ocula Magazine

Taipei Lowdown: Shows to See Ocula Report Taipei Lowdown: Shows to See By Tessa Moldan, Taipei

As Taipei Dangdai returns for its second edition between 17 and 19 January 2020 at the Nangang Exhibition Center, a selection of exhibitions across the city confirm Taipei as one of the region's most exciting art hubs.

Fade out copy.
Read More
Apichatpong Weerasethakul Ocula Conversation Apichatpong Weerasethakul By Sherman Sam, London

Apichatpong Weerasethakul is an artist and filmmaker born and based in Thailand. He first studied architecture at Khon Kaen University before completing an MA in film-making at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Despite exhibiting his film and videos internationally and participating in large exhibitions like the 55th Carnegie...

Fade out copy.
Read More

Apichatpong Weerasethakul In Related Press

View All (15)
Artes Mundi 8: Filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul wins £40,000 prize Related Press Artes Mundi 8: Filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul wins £40,000 prize 24 January 2019, BBC News

Indie Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul has won the £40,000 Artes Mundi contemporary art prize. The judges said his film Invisibility was 'a powerful weapon in these turbulent times'. The 48-year-old gave a UK premiere to his dream-like work, projected over two screens and showing two figures rising from their beds in separate rooms....

Fade out copy.
Read More
The man with the exploding head: the director inspired by his medical condition Related Press The man with the exploding head: the director inspired by his medical condition 24 October 2018, The Guardian

Apichatpong Weerasethakul's house in northern Thailand is a luscious jungle paradise full of polished concrete and teak, palm trees and bamboo. Even the air smells zen. The house's three gatekeepers, Dracula, King Kong and Vampire, do little to disturb the peace. They are pugs – named because Weerasethakul loves horror movies – who have a...

Fade out copy.
Read More
Exhibition Review: On the Periphery of Vision Related Press Exhibition Review: On the Periphery of Vision 4 July 2018, Musée Magazine

On the Periphery of Vision, a group exhibition curated by Christopher Philips, features works in a variety of mediums including photography, painting, sculpture and film. On display is work by five artists: Bae Youngwhan, Michelle Charles, Koo Donghee, Shimpei Takeda and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. The experiences depicted in the artworks border...

Fade out copy.
Read More
The Thai director who shows the future of cinema Related Press The Thai director who shows the future of cinema 24 May 2018, BBC culture

It's a strange thing to meet a stranger whose dreams you've dreamed. That's what it feels like to find myself sitting across from Apichatpong Weerasethakul one afternoon in the thick-carpeted quiet of a Doha hotel. We are both at Qumra, a week-long industry event held annually in the Qatari capital, at which Apichatpong is one of 2018's attending...

Fade out copy.
Read More

Sign up to be notified when new artworks and exhibitions by Apichatpong Weerasethakul are added to Ocula.

WeChat

Scan the QR Code via WeChat to follow Ocula's official account.

Scan to follow Ocula on WeChat.
;
iCal
GoogleYahooOutlook