The first feature film from acclaimed Argentinian-born, New York-based visual artist Rirkrit Tiravanija is an exquisitely photographed, minimalist portraiture that skirts the rich territory between documentary and fiction. A nearly plotless, observational encounter, the film follows its eponymous subject as he drifts through the seasons in a small Chiang Mai village. A retired rice farmer, Lung Neaw is a quiet and boyish man who spends his idle days conversing with neighbours, doing odd jobs and walking through the jungle. A fascinating, almost indescribable charge hangs about him; while leading a simple, rural life, his quotidian acts become things imbued with much deeper senses of meaning through the eyes of Tiravanija.
Neaw is a man curiously both timeless and thoroughly modern, both everywhere and invisible, alternately in and out of step with his surroundings. The simplicity of his existence–one of foraging, local routines and solitude–point to larger questions of the self, sustainability and modernity. At the same time, he is a man constantly out of place; pleased to be in the presence of others, but most at ease when alone and drifting/walking–a symbol of the unmoored contemporary world that surrounds him.
Tiravanija’s film is a sensual encounter with an individual and environment; through gorgeous super-16mm cinematography and a dense aural landscape, he captures the vitality and complexity of rural existence, and with a patient, deliberate pace creates a remarkable experience of looking and listening.