M+ Museum in Hong Kong is displaying Primitive, a multi-channel video installation by Thai artist and filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul. This represents the first time that the work is being shown in Hong Kong. Primitive was first featured at the Abandon Normal Devices (AND) Festival in Manchester in 2009, which co-commissioned the work for the event together with the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT).

The installation consists of a set of seven videos, each of varying duration, which are projected onto eight screens. The artist drew his inspiration for this work from two different starting points: the first is a story which he received from a Buddhist monk about a man who can see his previous incarnations as if they were on a movie screen; the second was a compulsion to uncover the recent history of his home region in northeastern Thailand, which had been obscured by the government. Each film is set in the village of Nabua in the Renu Nakhon region, where the Thai military suppressed communist farming collectives during intense clashes that lasted from the 1960s to the 1980s.

The artist takes us on a journey through a landscape that teeters on the brink between reality and dreams while documenting how past events have influenced the lives and livelihood of the teenage male descendants of the insurgent farmers who fought against the Thai military. The focal point of Primitive centers around the efforts of the village youth who are engaged in the construction of a spaceship which can navigate the “past” and the ”future” – categories of time which weigh heavily on the present of its inhabitants. This activity is a recurring theme in each of the videos that comprise the installation, firmly anchoring their otherwise oneiric narratives in the domain of reality.

M+ Museum is a cultural institution in Hong Kong which is dedicated to exhibiting works of visual art, design, architecture and moving images by contemporary artists from Southeast Asia. Primitive is open for viewing at the Studio in M+ until June 2. Works by Apichatpong Weerasethakul were recently exhibited at the gallery Shanghart Singapore and at M Woods in Beijing. More information about the installation at M+ can be found on the museum's site.

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