Apichatpong Weerasethakul: The Serenity of Madness



September 16–December 8
Reception: Friday, September 15, 6:00–9:00 p.m., presented in conjunction with EXPO Chicago art fair's Art After Hours

Sullivan Galleries, 33 S. State St., 7th floor

Apichatpong Weerasethakul's (MFA 1997, HON 2011) work reveals stories often excluded in history in and out of Thailand: voices of the poor and the ill, marginalized beings, and those silenced and censored for personal and political reasons. SAIC's Sullivan Galleries will present the US premiere of Apichatpong Weerasethakul: The Serenity of Madness, curated by Gridthiya Gaweewong (MA 1996) and produced by Independent Curators International, New York. This exhibition presents a selected survey of rarely-seen experimental short films and video installations by Weerasethakul, alongside his photography, drawings, sketches, and archival material that explore threads of sociopolitical commentary. His passionate positions regarding class, labor, sexuality, science and spirituality have informed his practice from early in his career to the present. Organized with Graduate Curatorial Assistants, Katie Cato (MAAH 2018), Luna Goldberg (MAAH 2018), and Désirée Coral Guerra (MFA 2018).

Related programs

Curator's Tour
With exhibition curator Gridthiya Gaweewong (MA 1996), Artistic Director of the Jim Thompson Art Center, Bangkok
Monday, September 18, 12:00–1:00 p.m.
Sullivan Galleries, 33 S. State St., 7th floor

Visiting Artists Program
Apichatpong Weerasethakul: Distinguished Alumni Lecture Series

Tuesday, September 19, 6:00 p.m.
The Art Institute of Chicago, Rubloff Auditorium, 230 S. Columbus Dr.
Lecture Information

Screening Series
Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St.

This series includes select films by Apichatpong Weerasethakul throughout the month of October. Please refer to the Gene Siskel Film Center for further details.

Cemetary of Splendor
(Rak ti Khon Kaen)
Friday, October 6, 8:00 p.m.
Monday, October 9, 7:45 p.m.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
(Loong Boonmee raleuk chat)
Friday, October 13, 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, October 15, 5:00 p.m.

Syndromes and a Century
(Sang sattawat)
Friday, October 20, 8:15 p.m.
Sunday, October 22, 4:45 p.m.
—with Melika Bass in person!

Tropical Malady
(Sud pralad)
Friday, October 27, 8:00 p.m.
Monday, October 30, 8:00 p.m.

"Tropical Malady: Queerness and Political Critique in the Cinema of Apichatpong Weerasethakul"
Lecture by visiting scholar Arnika Fuhrmann, Assistant Professor, Department of Asian Studies, Cornell University
Wednesday, October 4, 6:00 p.m.
SAIC Ballroom, 112 S. Michigan Ave.

This talk investigates the ability of Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul to mobilize the distinctly local while at the same time producing transnationally legible aesthetics of visual representation. It pays special attention to the ways in which Weerasethakul draws on Buddhism to present political critique and represent queerness in innovative ways.

Arnika Fuhrmann is an interdisciplinary scholar of Southeast Asia, working at the intersections of the region's aesthetic and political modernities. Her book Ghostly Desires: Queer Sexuality and Vernacular Buddhism in Contemporary Thai Cinema (Duke University Press, 2016) examines how Buddhist-coded anachronisms of haunting figure struggles over sexuality, personhood, and notions of collectivity in contemporary Thai cinema and political rhetoric.

Shared Dreams: Weerasethakul in International Perspective
Daniel R. Quiles and Anahita Ghazvinizadeh

Thursday October 26, 4:15 p.m.
Sullivan Galleries, 33 S. State St., 7th floor

Drawing on their knowledge of contemporary art and world cinema, faculty Ghazvinizadeh and Quiles will trace the theme of collective memory across Apichatpong Weerasethakul's feature films, the gallery-bound works in The Serenity of Madness, and related works by international directors. How does a transnational perspective—in which national traumas are a paradoxically common starting point for auteurs—allow us to better comprehend Weerasethakul's approach to Thai history and politics?


Where is Asia in Asian Art?
The Whereabouts of Cultural Content in Art

Wednesday, November 8, 12:00–1:00 p.m.
Sullivan Galleries, 33 S. State St., 7th floor

A discussion moderated by Art History, Theory, and Criticism Professor Nora A. Taylor, including Pakistani artist Bani Abidi and Professor Jennifer Lee among others.

This panel is intended as a discussion around a question that we encounter often here at the School, in critiques and in art history classes. It is about how we look at art works that contain references to Asia. How do we look at the work, and not focus solely on the artist? Can we talk about an art work made by an artist from Asia other than through the lens of identity politics? In asking where is Asia in the work, we can reflect on the art historical tools that we need to read works that have Asian content without resorting to stereotypes and clichés.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul: The Serenity of Madness is a traveling exhibition curated by Gridthiya Gaweewong and produced by Independent Curators International (ICI), New York. The exhibition and tour are made possible, in part, with the generous support from MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, Chiang Mai; the ICI Board of Trustees and ICI's International Forum. The presentation at SAIC Sullivan Galleries has been organized in collaboration with the SAIC Department of Exhibitions and Exhibition Studies.


Image courtesy of the artist and Independent Curators International Image courtesy of the artist and Independent Curators International Image courtesy of the artist and Independent Curators International Image courtesy of the artist and Independent Curators International