From  February 25th to March 27th, 2012 – The Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia

As part of the official 2011 Bigpond Adelaide Film Festival visual arts program, CACSA presents two solo exhibitions from renowned Asian artist/filmmakers: Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Yang Fudong.

Loosely based on a text published in 1983 by the abbot of a Buddhist temple in Apichatpong’s home town of Khon Kaen, A Letter to Uncle Boonmee tells the reportedly true story of a man who claimed that he could remember his past lives while meditating. A Letter to Uncle Boonmee functions as a personal letter from the filmmaker to Uncle Boonmee. “Uncle… I have been here for a while. I would like to see a movie about your life. So I proposed a project about reincarnation.” A camera glides through deserted houses. The voices of three men are heard telling Boonmee about an abandoned village. The wind blows fiercely through the buildings, bringing a swarm of bugs. As evening approaches, the sky turns dark, the bugs scatter and the men are silent.

Letter to Uncle Boonmee is part of a larger project called Primitive which includes six other video works, two short films and his acclaimed feature film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives—winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2010. The project deals with themes of memories, transformation and extinction, and touches on a violent 1965 Thai army crack down on communist sympathisers in the village Nabua in Nakhon Phanom, just by the border to Laos.
Apichatpong Weerasthakul was born in Bangkok and grew up in Khon Kaen in north-eastern Thailand. He began making film and video shorts in 1994, exhibiting installation work internationally since 1998, and completed his first feature in 2000. A Letter to Uncle Boonmee, commissioned by Animate Projects, Haus der Kunst, Munich and FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) Liverpool, and was awarded the following prizes: Grand Prize of the City of Oberhausen and Prize of the Jury, 55th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Germany; and Best Film, Prize of the Jury of the Pernambuco Association of Filmmakers, Janela Internacional de Cinema do Recife, Brasil. In 2010 Apichatpong was also a nominee for the Hugo Boss Award.

Yang Fudong’s five part series Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest is concerned with a group of young urban intellectuals in their 20s and 30s coming to terms with their ambiguous position in contemporary China, and their desire for individual freedom in the shifting context of an emerging capitalist economy. His works investigate the structure and formation of identity through myth, personal memory and lived experience and as such present a dramatic existential experience for the viewer.

Seven Intellectuals focuses on a group of rebellious scholars and artists based on the history of seven talented intellectuals from the ancient Chinese Wei and Jin Dynasties. Open and unruly, they used to gather and drink in the bamboo forest, singing songs and playing traditional Chinese musical instruments, in the hope of escaping from earthly life. They rejected the lessons of Confucianism, which taught that public commitment brought virtue and instead pursued individuality, freedom, and liberty.

Yang Fudong was born in 1971 in Beijing and graduated from the Chinese Academy of Fine Arts, Hangzhou. Yang has featured in the following biennales: Documenta XI in 2002; Venice Biennale, 2003 and 2007; 1st Prague Biennale 2003; 5th Shanghai Biennale 2004; Carnegie International 2005; 1st Sharjah Biennale 2005; and the Asia Pacific Triennial (Queensland Art Gallery) in 2006. Yang’s institutional projects include exhibitions at: ARC/Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris 2003; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 2005; Castello di Rivoli, Torino 2005. Yang Fudong is represented by ShangART Gallery, Shanghai and Marian Goodman Gallery New York.

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