Locus: Apichatpong Weerasethakul – Cao Guimarães
From 16 September to 3 December 2017, EYE staged a major exhibition of work by two prominent film artists: Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Cao Guimarães. Their celebrated work evokes a world that blends dream, sensory experience and reality.
Renowned for his dreamlike, sensual feature films, Thai artist Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Bangkok, Thailand, 1970) also creates video installations, photographs and experimental documentaries that transcend the boundaries of cinema. Brazilian artist Cao Guimarães (Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 1965) is primarily known for his short films and video installations, but he also makes remarkable feature films and photographic works.
Steeped in their local situations, both Weerasethakul and Guimarães draw inspiration from the landscapes, stories, history and socio-political conditions in their respective countries, while their work also explores memory, time, friendship and human dignity.
Guimarães and Weerasethakul are kindred artistic souls who take the mundane reality around them as the starting point for their work, but it requires an exceptionally trained eye to reveal its beauty, colours, rhythms, light, sounds and smells. Both artists make humane works that raise the ‘ordinary’ to another level, evoking a sensual world that invites observers to immerse themselves and escape from their limited and often rational way of thinking.
Apichatpong Weerasethakul, honoured with the 2016 Prince Claus Award, has taken part in major film festivals in Cannes, Venice, Rotterdam, Toronto and elsewhere. He was a participating artist in documenta 13 in Kassel (2012) and in various biennales, and he has had major presentations at, among others, Haus der Kunst in Munich, The New Museum in New York, and Tate Modern in London.
Most of Weerasethakul’s films, photographs, experimental videos and film installations are set in the north-east of Thailand, the region where he grew up. Weerasethakul is interested in the history, memory and sensory experience of this region. His world makes no distinction between the present and past, between visible reality and dreamed truth. Many of his works feature ‘spirits’ — ancestors, wood nymphs, figures from ancient legends or from mythical stories. The seemingly casual way they form part of his filmed reality shows that, for Weerasethakul, they are no strangers but simply part of life.
The exhibition at EYE featured large big film installation Primitive. It consists of eight short and slightly longer ‘mini films’ or ‘sketches’ that capture the lives of a number of teenagers in Nabua, a small village in the north-east of Thailand. In the 1960s and 70s, this village was the scene of battle between Thai military forces and local civilians who were accused of being communist or having communist sympathies. In this village ‘full of repressed memories’, Weerasethakul films teenagers who gather to chat, play football and daydream. Just like in all his work, this film demonstrates his attentive way of looking, his protracted shots, his heightened sensitivity to both natural and artificial light, and also his ability to subtly invite viewers to reflect on their own lives and on the deeper layers behind our daily existence.
The work of Cao Guimarães has featured at major film festivals around the world, including Locarno, Cannes, Rotterdam, Sundance and Venice, and it has been exhibited and acquired by prominent museums such as the Tate Modern in London, Guggenheim Museum in New York, Inhotim Institute in Belo Horizonte, Jumex collection in Mexico City, and Fondation Cartier in Paris.
Like Weerasethakul, Cao Guimarães also has a keen eye for small occurrences, objects, colours and sounds that one normally doesn’t notice. The power of Guimarães lies in revealing the casual poetry in the ordinary. His films are populated by minuscule insects, soap bubbles, raindrops, petals falling on the ground, footprints, bits of fluff floating in the air. He is drawn to those very places where people live but are often overlooked, people who avoid the predictably structured lives we are expected to live in a modern capitalist society. Not only people on the fringes of society, drifters and hermits, but also children who, to him, represent the freedom to live as you want, free of any rules of behaviour and full of uncertainty about how to proceed. Guimarães presents us with alternative ways of living, offering us space to break free from our own, structured lives.
Another important element in his work is the landscape and other natural phenomena such as sunlight, weather, reflections of light on water. We also see that the relationship between people and their natural environment is not a hierarchical one but a natural connection.
The work of Cao Guimarães is situated at the interface between cinema and art. Self-taught, he pays little heed to prevailing rules and predictable forms of filmmaking. Although documentary by nature, his images seem to float between familiar reality and a world in which the senses enjoy free reign and – just as in the work of Weerasethakul – break free from rational considerations. And in that way, Guimarães’s images also evoke a world that blends dream, sensory experience and reality.
The exhibition is curated by Jaap Guldemond in collaboration with Marente Bloemheuvel.
- Director of exhibitions / Curator: Jaap Guldemond
- Associate curator: Marente Bloemheuvel
- Project managers: Sanne Baar, Claartje Opdam
- Graphic design: Joseph Plateau, Amsterdam
- Technical production: Rembrandt Boswijk, Indyvideo, Utrecht, Bo Jansen
- Installation: Syb Sybesma, Landstra & De Vries, Amsterdam
- Lighting: Maarten Warmerdam, Theatermachine, Amsterdam
The exhibition was accompanied by two publications, both designed by Irma Boom in the spirit of the artists’ work and richly illustrated, with essays by Consuelo Lins and Dana Linssen. They are published in collaboration with nai010 publishers in Rotterdam, which is also in charge of national and international distribution. €27,95
From A to Z
filmCao Guimarães, 2004
filmCao Guimarães, Pablo Lobato, 2006
filmCao Guimarães, 2007
lectureApichatpong Weerasethakul, 2017
filmApichatpong Weerasethakul, 2015
filmApichatpong Weerasethakul, 2002
lectureCao Guimarães, 2017
filmCao Guimarães, 2017
filmApichatpong Weerasethakul , 2015
filmApichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010
filmCao Guimarães, 2010
filmApichatpong Weerasethakul, 2012
filmApichatpong Weerasethakul , 2000
filmCao Guimarães/Beto Magalhães/Lucas Bambozzi, 2001
filmCao Guimarães and Marcelo Gomes, 2013
filmCao Guimarães, 2012
filmSompot Chidgasornpongse, 2017
filmCao Guimarães, 2002
filmApichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006
filmApichatpong Weerasethakul, 2003
filmApichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004
filmApichatpong Weerasethakul , 2010