Leading Thai artist builds sculpture of a ghost

Apichatpong Weerasethakul – Importance of Telepathy, 2012, documenta 12, Kassel, Germany, photo Latitudes (flickr)
Apichatpong Weerasethakul – Importance of Telepathy, 2012 at documenta 12, Kassel, Germany
Photo: Latitudes

Introduction

There’s no tinge of doubt that Apichatpong Weerasethakul is one of the most prolific contemporary Thai artists of our time. He’s the main feature in Tokyo’s boutique art gallery, the SCAI the Bathhouse. Apichatpong’s very popular works like Blissfully Yours (2002), Tropical Malady (2003), Power Boy (2009), Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2009), the Fireworks (2015), and The Serenity of Madness (2016) catapulted him into limelight in the global art stage.

The Importance of Telepathy is his 2012 sculpture for documenta 12 which he worked on in collaboration with his fellow colleague Chai Siris. The public art exhibit was on display in the Orangerie garden in Kassel. Sitting idly at the lush garden, the sculpture is crafted out of ceramic and drabbed in dazzlingly white cloth cloaks to resemble the mythical creature of the shadows. It’s immersed in what looks like an ethereal glow and covered to reveal only a scary face, giving it a believable ghostly appearance. There are also the hammocks and the wind chimes strapped on the trees around the garden. Together, the large sculpture brings to mind Phi Boon, a popular ghost in Thai folklore and literature.

Also, hiding behind the mask of Phi Boon is Sakda Kaewbuadee, a Thai actor who has acted in various cinematic installations as an astronaut, and a monk, and a tiger. The public art was first exhibited at in Kassel, Germany.

The story behind the sculpture

The story behind The Importance of Telepathy is as fascinating as the art installation itself. In Thailand, there exists a type of ghost known as Phi Boon. Contrary to the textbook definition of ghosts, Phi Boon isn’t a dead creature, but a living person who is believed to possess godly powers and ability to deliver the villagers from oppressive regimes and their pains. Besides being a symbol of hope, this ghost also entertains the villagers with otherworldly songs, poems, and texts.

For over 260 years, Phi Boons have revolted against unjust regimes and governments – hence, what they call Phi Boon uprisings. Unfortunately, the last of Phi Boons and their believers were executed in the 1950s.

From the artist’s perspective, the sculpture is a reminiscence of what Thailand as a country has gone through in the past tumultuous decades – the revolt, the military coups, the war, and then the hope, the faith, and the fear that often engulfs the northeastern state.

About Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Apichatpong Weerasethakul is a Thai independent film producer, screenwriter, film director, and artist, all rolled into one. His award-winning works have been featured in collections around the world, notably Tate and MoMA.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul – Importance of Telepathy, 2012, documenta 12, Kassel, Germany
Apichatpong Weerasethakul – Importance of Telepathy, 2012 at documenta 12, Kassel, Germany

Apichatpong Weerasethakul – Importance of Telepathy, 2012, documenta 12, Kassel, Germany, detail, Photo oeli
Detail of Importance of Telepathy, 2012 by Apichatpong Weerasethakul at documenta 12, Kassel, Germany
Photo: oeli

Apichatpong Weerasethakul – Importance of Telepathy, 2012, documenta 12, Kassel, Germany, installation
Installation of Importance of Telepathy, 2012 by Apichatpong Weerasethakul at documenta 12, Kassel, Germany

Apichatpong Weerasethakul – Importance of Telepathy, 2012, documenta 12, Kassel, Germany, installation
Installation of Importance of Telepathy, 2012 by Apichatpong Weerasethakul at documenta 12, Kassel, Germany

Apichatpong Weerasethakul – Importance of Telepathy, 2012, documenta 12, Kassel, Germany, photo dpa:Uwe Zucchi
Installation of Importance of Telepathy, 2012 by Apichatpong Weerasethakul at documenta 12, Kassel, Germany
Photo DPA/Uwe Zucchi

Apichatpong Weerasethakul – Importance of Telepathy, 2012, documenta 12, Kassel, Germany, Chai Siris (left) with Apichatpong Weerasethakul (right)
Photo of Apichatpong Weerasethakul (right) with Chai Siris (left) in front of Importance of Telepathy, 2012 at documenta 12, Kassel, Germany

Related artworks

 

Last updated on

Discover more ..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*


Support Public Delivery

We are a non-profit dedicated to changing the status quo of the art world. We work with recognized artists, art spaces and organizations, but also visit remote places and work with communities who are often overlooked, trying to establish balance within the global conversation about creativity. Public Delivery brings you unique and fresh content, and often thought-provoking ideas, free to all.

But we can’t do it without you.

Come join us

Want inspiration in your inbox?

Public Delivery