Cemetery of Splendor

For the 40th session of our film series, we are thrilled to have Natascha Sadr Haghighian bring us Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s film Cemetery of Splendor–a deep passage through traumatized terrain. The film will be screened in Thai with English subtitles.

A group of soldiers has mysteriously fallen into a deep sleep in a makeshift hospital, a former school built on the cemetery of long-dead kings. The dormant bodies fight a continuous war from the past in their sleep, while the ground around them is dug up to install fiber optic cables.

A group of nurses acts as caretakers of the sleeping soldiers’ bodies. They are accompanied by Keng, a young woman who has the powers of a medium, and Jenjira, a volunteer who originally came to the hospital to sell her knitting. Keng helps visiting relatives to communicate with the sleeping soldiers. Jenjira and Keng become friends and together they follow one of the soldiers into the invisible cemetery. Oscillating between wakefulness and sleep, immobility and flight, past, present and futures, the hospital becomes a psychogeographical zone where trauma makes the very fabric of reality. Cemetery of Splendor premiered in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. Film courtesy of Rapid Eye Movies.

Natascha Sadr Haghighian explains her choice as follows: The call of the sleeping soldiers is so strong that it’s difficult to stay awake during 'Cemetery of Splendor'. But just what kind of sleep is it when we fall asleep during a film? Apichatpong Weerasethakul shows us that some things only become apparent when we approximate dormancy. 

SAVVY Contemporary is not only housed in a former crematorium, the crematorium was also built on the site of a cemetery for the poor: nameless bodies that lacked the advocacy to maintain their burial site. Falling asleep at such a site seems even more difficult than to dance. Scary shit, you don’t really want to lose control. But maybe this sleep is needed in order to learn to listen to the nameless bodies buried here and elsewhere. How else can we touch the traumatic orders of reality and not repeat the illusion of being outside of them?

Natascha Sadr Haghighian was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1987 and lives and works in Budapest and Berlin. She most recently showed work at the Szobart projekt, Budapest, in 2011. Previous collaborations include with FIKA, Pécs, Hungary, in the Travelling Artists Project together with the SZaF group, Basil-Wien-Budapest, and in the Prostitution group exhibition at Demo gallery in Budapest in 2010. Her work has also been shown in Design Transfer Gallery (Berlin), Kunsthalle Budapest, and Artbázis (Budapest), among others. (Extracted from www.bioswop.net)