Friday, 2 October 2009

Apichatpong Weerasethaku's Primitive @ FACT, Liverpool

It would be easy to become preoccupied by the screen which shows rhythmic blasts of lightening smashing into the ground, spitting down in domestic scenes of village, graveyard and temple. Taking over one wall in FACT's Gallery 1, even if you make a concerted effort to study the other scenes depicted on the other walls, the white flashes draw you back. The screen showing young men firing semi-automated weapons through windows at unseen targets verges on the mundane when placed next (as it is) to those violent cracks of light and sound.

I guess this is just one way in which Apichatpong's installation touches on the idea of the Primitive. Skipping between perception of past, present and future, this work is both grim and playful.

In the gallery, dominated by a structure which oscillates between being an eminently practical thing to hold video projectors, guard tower and spaceship, you can create your own narrative from the films we are presented with. Instead of following a narrative prescribed by the author, the viewer can become editor, swapping our attention between video feeds and creating something for ourselves. It's a simple and generous device, I like it.

Upstairs in Gallery 2, the Primitive (Nabua Song) seems disposable when compared to the fantasy documentary A Letter to Uncle Boonmee. Displaying a intriguing circular narrative that puts Tarantino to shame, this film tells a story in whispered hints. It is a softly spoken work. Good for a Sunday afternoon after your cat has just been run over.

P.S. Look out for the ghoul.

P.P.S. Doesn't Damien Hirst sound like a twat in the Radio 4 Front Row promo.

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