Kiang Malingue is pleased to present Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s solo exhibition at both Kiang Malingue Sik On Street, and Kiang Malingue Tin Wan. Titled A Planet of Silence, this is Apichatpong’s second exhibition in Hong Kong after the touring exhibition Serenity of Madness: Apichatpong’s Selective Survey at Para Site Hong Kong in 2016, showcasing cinematic and photographic works created by the acclaimed auteur in the last two years. By paying tribute to a beloved friend who has recently passed away, and by diarising treasured moments and sensual fragments from life, Apichatpong speaks of the meaning of love, memory and solidarity re-defined in a post-pandemic era.
Included in the exhibition is a new double-channel video installation For Bruce — Apichatpong’s tribute to his long-time friend, experimental filmmaker Bruce Baillie (1931-2020). Apichatpong was introduced to Baillie’s avant-garde filmmaking practice at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1990s, and has formed a strong emotional, personal bond with Baillie over the years. As part of the exhibition Apichatpong Weerasethakul: Primitive at the New Museum in 2011, Apichatpong also presented Bruce Baillie’s autobiographical film Quick Billy (1967-70).
Apichatpong filmed the overlapped videos of For Bruce when he was trekking in an Amazon jungle in Peru, recovering from COVID. Peaceful and endless is the subject of the videos: a wooden bridge in an immensely lively natural environment. One sees a variety of animals, and flickering light; hears the tranquil flow of the water beneath the bridge, and the artist’s coughs. Filming a non-place in the jungle that is unaffected by memories and is instead unifying beings on a spiritual dimension, Apichatpong offers the artwork as a portrait of Baillie, an artist who embraced film in a primitive way, as alchemy.
Also included in the exhibition is the award-winning feature film Memoria’s satellite video Durmiente, which constitutes a diptych with async – first light. Durmiente features an intimate scene that does not appear in Memoria, the moment when the lead character (Tilda Swinton) falls asleep, signifying the end of her journey. Async – first light, on the other hand, is a collaboration between Apichatpong and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, an homage to the act of crossing borders. The two interwoven films lead us from daylight into the night, wakefulness to dreaming, representing a yearning for interconnectedness through light, cinema, and dreams. Another video diptych is Seeing Circles, exhibited for the first time in gallery 2 of the Kiang Malingue building. Exploring memory, politics, along with shadows of humans and planets, the new video installation pertains directly to the theme of the exhibition by focusing on both the grand and the minuscule.
A selection of recent photographic works from the acutely political A Minor History series revisits Thailand’s northeastern region of Isan during the pandemic lockdown, juxtaposing images of the Mekong River, with those of architectural ruins such as old hotels and cinemas, and the hotel rooms in which Apichatpong stayed. The series of A Conversation with the Sun photographic works, on the other hand, deals with the artist’s interest in exploring machine autonomy and man-machine collaboration, as Apichatpong once again makes use of his favoured motif of the fabric curtain backdrop, creating machine-generated images on the neural network architecture platform VQGAN+CLIP. This series of works stem from Apichatpong’s study of philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti’s (1895-1986) ideal of being; in the recent text work The Word Silence is not Silence made for Okayama Art Summit 2022, the artist has also further developed his examinations of Krishnamurti’s ideas in relation to fellow artist Rirkrit Tiravanija’s political expressions.
At Kiang Malingue Tin Wan is an unprecedented marathon screening of Apichatpong’s short films: A Bunch of Shorts Portrayed in Red. Apichatpong has made a large number of short films and videos over the years, and this exhibition is the first occasion on which 30 short films are grouped together in a single screening program. In more than 7 hours’ duration, one may revisit early creations such as the thirdworld made in 1997, and A Letter to Uncle Boonmee (Primitive project) made in 2009. By presenting major recent works along with key early pieces, the exhibition as a whole offers an insight into Apichatpong’s oeuvre, mapping the trajectory through which the artist’s singular practice evolves in more than two decades.