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Apichatpong Weerasethakul Sourcebook: The Serenity of Madness

20200525110736344632 (1)Publisher: TFAM
Category:Exhibition Catalogs
Published Date: 2020/03
ISSN: 978-986-54-1274-6



Interactions between contemporary art, economics and politics have been advanced by people in many fields, and the well-known Thai film director Apichatpong Weerasethakul perfectly exemplifies this by making outstanding artwork by blending film, visual art, and social issues. The Taipei Fine Arts Museum presented the works of Weerasethakul in both the 2004 and 2010 Taipei Biennial, and again in the Museum's 2017 exhibition Riverrun. In 2019, the Museum is honored to present Weerasethakul's exhibition The Serenity of Madness in Taiwan for the first time in collaboration with Independent Curators International.

The exhibition was organized by the important Thai curator Gridthiya Gaweewong, who together with Weerasethakul planned the Bangkok Experimental Film Festival from 1999 to 2008, and has developed a good understanding of the artist through a long-time partnership. Gaweewong decided not to include obscure art language to introduce Weerasethakul for this exhibition, so that visitors could rely on their own intuition to appreciate his work. Occupying an entire floor and including almost thirty photographs, videos, and installations spanning more than twenty years, the exhibition offers a viewing experience different from that of a movie theater, and features many still and moving images while presenting Weerasethakul's arrangement of space and deployment of visual media.

The artworks and personal documents on display in the exhibition create a vivid image of the artist’s keen insight into Thailand's social and political environment and his own emotions. In films, we see him exploring the fascinating nature of light and shadow, relationships between the subconscious and memory, his deep concern for social reality, and the natural flow and poetry of life. Weerasethakul not only puts his consummate skill to work when manipulating light and shadow in his films, but also when dealing with the symmetry of the exhibition venue and installing his work in a way that responds to the space, which reflects his background in architecture. The twenty-five short films that were screened at the exhibition opening made the creative brilliance and considerable talent of the artist very clear, while inspiring his Taiwanese audience and fans.

Also, to accompany the exhibition, the Museum has published Apichatpong Weerasethakul Sourcebook: The Serenity of Madness, a bilingual, English and Chinese catalog. The book is based on one published by Independent Curators International in 2016 and contains materials selected by the artist from his own archive, starting from the original intention of the book, which was a "studio-visit-in-a-book." Weerasethakul generously shares precious fragments of his life, conversations with curators, notes, personal letters, scientific research, historical data, poetry, and prose, which are interspersed with poetic images. Being the last stop of this traveling exhibition, the Museum made additions to the Sourcebook: photo-documentation of the show, and excerpts from lectures given at the Museum by the artist and exhibition curator. Reading the book, which relies on a stream of consciousness format, is an utterly fascinating experience that provides insight into the rich background of this outstanding filmmaker and artist. Weerasethakul has always been curious about the natural sciences and a deep concern for humanity, and his passion for all kinds of life experiences is what drives him to create. He constructs unique visual space in his work based on his philosophical perspectives and draws surreal situations from real life, allowing us to experience his serenity of madness.

The Museum is fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with such an excellent artist, curator, and international organization in the production of The Serenity of Madness and its accompanying sourcebook, which guide the public in exploring Weerasethakul's artistic and cinematic journey in different ways. I am sincerely grateful to Weerasethakul for sharing his wealth of creative energy, and for his continued commitment to this exhibition while he was busy filming another project in Colombia. I also wish to extend my gratitude to Independent Curators International and exhibition curator Gridthiya Gaweewong for the trust they placed in the Museum and their expert planning and coordination in realizing this project. Their efforts made possible the sharing of this exhibition with audiences here in Taiwan. Thank you for participating in this wonderful international collaboration.

Ping Lin / Director of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum


Preface / Ping Lin

Foreword and Acknowledgments / Alaina Claire Feldman and Kate Fowle



Mekong / Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Untitled / Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Dear Khroo / Apichatpong Weerasethakul

'Orca Ears' Inspire Researchers to Develop Ultrasensitive Undersea Microphone / Amara D. Angelica

Conversation with Gridthiya Gaweewong / Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Gridthiya Gaweewong

Conversation with Andrea Lissoni / Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Andrea Lissoni

MIT Study: Light Alone Can Activate Specific Memories / Elizabeth Armstrong Moore

Eastern Beach

Untitled / Apichatpong Weerasethakul

The Mystery Tunnel / provided by R. J. Destatte and Jeannie Schiff

Untitled / Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Jenjira's Diary / Jenjira Pongpas Widner

Eating the Sun: Can Humans Be Hacked to Do Photosynthesis? / Maddie Stone

Untitled / Apitchatpong Weerasethakul

Conversation with Withit Chandawong / Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Withit Chandawong

An Illustrated History of Trepanation / Mo Costandi

Untitled / Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Dear Khroo / Apichatpong Weerasethakul

'The Serenity of Madness' at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum

Fireworks: Illusion, Memory, and Time

└ Apichatpong Weerasethakul

└ Gridthiya Gaweewong

Ghazal of the Dark Death / Federico Garcia Lorca, translated by Robert Bly

Image and Permission Credits

ICI Board of Trustees