Marking the first time the work is displayed in Hong Kong, Primitive (2009) by Thai artist and filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul (b. 1970) is a multi-channel video installation that also incorporates two other short films and an artist’s book. It represents a pivotal moment in the artist’s career when the bridging of visual art, moving image, and cinema became a defining aspect of his practice. A visionary of our contemporary condition, Weerasethakul is known for his experiments with non-narrative structures and states of possibility. Elements of Primitive also came to form Weerasethakul’s feature film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010), which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Shot in Nabua in northern Thailand, Primitive follows the activities of teenagers and observes their conversations, songs, and dreams. Woven into tender portraits and evocations of violence are enigmatic motifs of light, apparitions, and otherworldly journeys. With these components, Weerasethakul destabilises conventional notions of time and deepens the connective spaces between reality and imagination. Grounded in local and personal histories, Primitive imbues these accounts with a universal, mystical resonance.