Celebrated Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul has won this year’s Artes Mundi prize for his latest work, Invisble, a “dreamlike and meditative” study of political corruption in current day Thailand.
Praising his work to date, the Artes Mundi panel of judges describe his films as explorations of the “the clash between modernisation in Thailand and its repressive stance on freedom of expression, in a country where self-censorship has become automatic and where ancient animism coexists alongside hyper-capitalist modernity.”
He becomes the eighth recipient of an award that identifies, recognises and supports contemporary visual artists who engage with the human condition, social reality and lived experience.
Discussing their decision to honour the director with the prize, judges say, “When times are tough it is sometimes not safe to talk about politics explicitly and Apichatpong Weerasethakul provides us with some subtle tools of resistance: the methodology of camouflage demonstrated in Invisibility is a powerful weapon in these turbulent times.”
They go on to add that, “While in the West, Weerasethakul is better known as a feature film director, the jury wished to pay homage to the vigorous interrogation in his gallery work of filmmaking, storytelling and the political and social position of the artist.”
Speaking exclusively to It’s Nice That, Apichatpong says, “I don’t think about awards, I don’t expect them, but they really do motivate and inspire. This award, especially.”
When asked if he believes that filmmakers have a social responsibility to produce politically-motivated work that interrogates the present day, he says he sees it as “a necessity,” adding, “for me at least. We need more politically motivated films.”
You feel frustrated living in the world, and expressing that is hard. All I know how to do is make images, to make films. So that’s what I do. I believe that we can all make art. Everyone can do it: it’s not a mythical thing.”
Apichatpong follows in the footsteps of previous winners who include John Akomfrah, Theaster Gates, and N S Harsha.