Thai Director Apichatpong Weerasethakul Talks Time Travel, Politics And ‘Primitive’ Show At New Museum
Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s films have never given up their meanings easily. His latest, “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,” won the Palme d’Or at Cannes last year but nevertheless confounded many French critics.
The mystical story of a man dying from kidney failure who sees his dead wife and son — the latter has turned into a gorilla — manages to make a picaresque stop at a river to watch a princess turn into a fish before returning to Boonmee’s family as it makes a misty procession into a cave in the jungle.
Weerasethakul’s films are undeniably art but divide cinema-lovers. A new solo show called “Primitive” at the New Museum — his first in New York — will likely have the same effect on museumgoers. The exhibition opens Thursday and runs until July 3.
While developing “Uncle Boonmee” in 2009, the Thai director received a commission from a German museum to create a video installation about the the isolated and cursed village of Nabua. While “Primitive” has been deemed fit for a museum and “Uncle Boonmee” for the theater, they cover much of the same ground. Both examine the sensual delights and political nightmares of life in rural Thailand, and both resist simple interpretations.