in collaboration with Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Commissioned by dOCUMENTA (13)
Ghost figure (1)
PU foam, internal steel framing, acrystal and semi matt lacquer
500(h) x 280(w) x 235(d) cm
Wind chimes (150)
Baked clay, synthetic fiber string
30(h) x 12(w) x 12(d) cm
200(l) x 150(w) cm
In Thailand there is a kind of ghost (Phi) called a Phi Boon. This ghost is not a dead being, but a person who claims to have the supernatural power to uplift the villagers from their suffering. Apart from offering hope, Phi Boon moves the people with mystical poems, songs, and texts. A ‘Phi Boon Revolt’ became a term used to describe an animist rebellion against the central government. The number of Phi Boon uprisings indicated the level of oppression in each particular region. Such revolts occurred repeatedly over 260 years until the 1950s by which time the government had entirely executed the Phi Boons and their followers.
In Kassel’s Orangerie garden, we are introducing our memory of home to the trees and their biotic friends. Human viewers are invited to lie down in the hammocks that are interspersed among ancient trees, to be eaten by nature and woven into an invisible movie.
The hammock is just one of the elements taken from our home in the north of Thailand. We dream in it. Another element is our old wind chime made up of tiny dolphins. Replicas of the dolphins are suspended on the surrounding trees. Though it’s invisible, each wind chime possesses its own tone. As this soundtrack fills the air, in the open field a supposedly invisible being solidifies. A phantom. This is our tree, an ancient ghost that refuses to disappear from memory.
Behind the ghost’s mask is our regular actor, Sakda Kaewbuadee, a man who, in various cinema incarnations, has been a tiger, a monk, and an astronaut. Here he partakes silently in the environmental cinema. Sakda the Ghost is our character in whom are instilled many traits of home. We are growing up in a volatile land that threatens to collapse again and again. Military coup after military coup, ghost after ghost has haunted us with faith and fear. A country of phantoms, kill and being killed in the open. We take pleasure in sleeping and in dreams. We lie down and listen with our eyes closed. Our beloved cinema is forever muted.
– Apichatpong Weerasethakul & Chai Siris