I’d been discussing Art and Anthropology at a meeting in the morning, thinking about the different ways that the two fields deal with observation and representation of people. It turned out to be a good background to seeing ‘Primitive’ by Apichatpong Weerasethakul at FACT. The work is divided between four spaces, but is all the result of a period of times spent living in Nabua, Thailand, and of working with local young men. There is in part, a feeling in the work that this is a document of memories about a place, and in part it is, the film footage of houses and interiors appears to be of actual houses in a real village, and that is supported by the narration. But the layered processes that are taking place make clear the flickering between fact and fiction, or the occupation of a space between the two.
Weerasethakul lived in the village whilst making the work. The project was to build a space ship with the sons of local farmers, and some elements of the films document this process. (particularly a film that had the invigilator sitting right next to the screen, in a way that made that the last bit of film I looked at in that space). Parts of the conversation discuss a time when the village was occupied by soldiers, which appear to be real conversations, but then some of the young men then appear in military uniforms, but its unclear if these are parts they are playing for the film or not. Much of the rest of the films are obviously fictional, ghosts, lightening that is also explosives, the process of setting up those fireworks and part of that illusion. There is a flickering between states, by including not just the fictional films but the process of making them, and of living and engaging with the memories and lives of the place and people who live there. This work and approach to film making weaves fictional film making together with a social process of making, and an almost anthropological mode of living in a place in orer to live with people and engage with their lives and sense of place.