On the How of Why the Lion Roars

For the 42nd session of our film series we are honored to welcome Anri Sala who invites us to experience excerpts of films that not only inspired him, but became also part of his interactive film installation Why the Lion Roars. Due to screening agreements we cannot release the names of the films prior to the screening, we can tell you, though, that one finds a middle-aged business man escaping his inner turmoil through a quixotic aquatic adventure and the other follows a love story that develops into a meditative journey into a world of natural and manmade conflicts. The films will be either in English or with English subtitles.

Anri Sala presents excerpts from different films, among them Blissfully Yours by Apichatpong Weerasethakul (2002, 125 minutes, Thai with English subtitles). Film provided courtesy of the director.

Anri Sala explains his selection as follows: Apart from the fact that I think these films capture a certain Zeitgeist–be it by referring to the emptiness and despair that lie beneath the sunny facade of 1960s suburbia in the US or by capturing the current reality of illegal immigrants within a love story in Thailand–I’m choosing these films because they were both part of my weather-based project Why the Lion Roars (2010). Why the Lion Roars is a composition of feature films that communicate through a feeling for temperature. Each of the fifty-seven selected films represents specifically defined degrees, from minus 11°C to 45°C. A thermometer measures the temperature outside the projection space and simultaneously edits the film program, which changes in correspondence with the actual outdoor temperature. While one movie was being screened at 25°C, another of the films, for example Blissfully Yours, appeared at 26°C, their journeys thus cutting into each other and their narratives merging with the slightest outdoor temperature change.

One additional feature that both films have in common is the importance that they both give to the notion of touch and the tactile. While we see the touch between lovers along with the one between patient and doctor in the Thai romance, the act of touching in the other film conveys a strange feeling of discomfort. Both movies present touch as a means of sending and receiving that embodies exchange, as well as vulnerability, and are therefore in stark contrast to what touch is increasingly becoming nowadays: a one-way command from hands to device screens.

Blissfully Yours
Set in a small town and a jungle near the Burmese border, Blissfully Yours follows a young Thai woman and her Burmese boyfriend, an illegal immigrant, on an afternoon of blissful interlude. Though peaceful and calm on the surface, the lovers and a middle-aged woman who joins them, and the jungle itself, embody hidden conflicts. With the opening credits leisurely appearing 45 minutes into the film, this early work by Cannes Palme d'Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul offers a meditative journey into a world of nature and man made conflicts.

Berlin-based artist  Anri Sala was born in 1974 in Tirana, Albania. Recent solo exhibitions include The Present Moment (in D), Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany (2014); Anri Sala: Two Films, Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit MI (2012); Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark (2012); Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2012); 1395 Days Without Red, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland (2012); National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan (2011); Serpentine Gallery, London, England (2011) and Musée d'Art Contemporain, Montreal, Quebec (2011). Sala was awarded the Prix Gilles Dusein in 2000; the Young Artist Prize at the Venice Biennale in 2001 and the Absolut Art Award, Stockholm, Sweden in 2011. In 2013, he was selected to represent France at the 55th Venice Biennial with Ravel Ravel Unravel and, most recently, Sala was the recipient of the Vincent Award, Den Haag, The Netherlands (2014).