Part One| 19 August – 14 November 2021
Part Two| 25 November 2021 – 27 February 2022
A Minor History comprises a two-part exhibition in Apichatpong’s ongoing cinematic portrayal of Isan - Thailand’s northeastern region. The first installment is a three-channel video installation resulting from the artist’s journey along the Mekong River during Thailand’s recent pandemic lockdowns. He accumulated interviews and photographs that reflect the country’s shifting political climate.
The piece focuses on two encounters, beginning with a Mukdahan local who recovered the wrapped bodies of political activists found in the river, and followed by the discovery of an old cinema theatre in Kalasin province. The skeletal remains of the cinema, infested with pigeons, are juxtaposed with images of the nocturnal flow of the Mekong. Behind lurks a Morlam (lsan folk performance) theater backdrop that depicts an empty palace. Majestic colors are dimmed in darkness and at times illuminated by the flickering film.
For the work’s audio component, Apichatpong collaborates with with Akritchalerm Kalayanamitr, his longtime sound designer, and for the first time with a young Isan poet, Mek Krung Fah (the half-cloudy sky). The poet composes a fictional story and impersonates a man and his lover as they stroll along the riverbank. The narration mimics an old cinema and radio drama dubbing style from a bygone era.
With its hybrid form of storytelling, the installation hovers in the realms of reality and dreams. It reflects on the decay of memories and representations, on the disintegration of social narrative and truth. To Apichatpong, these lights from the road are a memorial to childhood innocence, and an awakening to the unspeakable violence in Thai society. The show is a tribute to the political dissidents whose forced disappearance lingers like a myth.