Ghosts and Spectres — Shadows of History features video installations and films by Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand), Ho Tzu Nyen (Singapore), Nguyen Trinh Thi (Vietnam), and Park Chan-kyong (South Korea). The artists’ research into their own cultural and historical backgrounds gain shape through allegories that re-evaluate the social and political reforms in Post-War and Cold-War Asia. The cinematic works in the exhibition combine fact and fiction. They not only allude to rarely discussed subject-matters but also raise crucial questions about power and authority, construction of narratives, repression of identities, and collective trauma./>
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NTU CCA Singapore Exhibitions is focused on contemporary artistic production that provides a critical platform for reflection and discussion. The exhibition programme embraces artistic production in all its diverse media with a commitment to current debates in visual culture. NTU CCA Singapore presents up to four exhibitions a year ranging in format from group to solo shows giving voice to a diversity of international artists. Each exhibition is accompanied by an extensive public programme of tours, talks and workshops that foster reflections on the exhibition from various perspectives and disciplines.

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Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History

1 September 2017 — 19 November 2017

Public Opening Reception: Thursday, 31 August 2017, 7.00 – 9.00pm

Ghosts and Spectres — Shadows of History features video installations and films by Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand), Ho Tzu Nyen (Singapore), Nguyen Trinh Thi (Vietnam), and Park Chan-kyong (South Korea). The artists’ research into their own cultural and historical backgrounds gain shape through allegories that re-evaluate the social and political reforms in Post-War and Cold-War Asia. The cinematic works in the exhibition combine fact and fiction. They not only allude to rarely discussed subject-matters but also raise crucial questions about power and authority, construction of narratives, repression of identities, and collective trauma.
 
Embedded in the vernacular, ghosts, myths, and rituals present systems of knowledge that enable the expression of unknown worlds. Ghosts and Spectres — Shadows of History brings to light clouded histories at times not officially recounted but those that remain a lingering presence in collective memories through local mythologies, ghostly figures, and traditions. The works create their own language and systems of reference, reflecting current efforts of exposing written historical accounts and contemporary situations that subvert mainstream narratives.
 
In parallel, The Lab, NTU CCA Singapore’s platform for research in-progress, will be featuring projects by siren eun young jung (South Korea) and Choy Ka Fai (Singapore/Germany), both recent NTU CCA Singapore artists-in-residence. While jung focuses on Yeoseong Gukgeuk, a vanishing form of traditional Korean theatre featuring only female performers, Choy brings up his long-time research into Butoh dance, also called “dance of darkness,” and looks at its evolution and influence through one of the Butoh founders, Tatsumi Hijikata.
 
Ghosts and Spectres—Shadows of History is curated by Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director, NTU CCA Singapore, and Professor, School of Art, Design and Media, NTU, and Khim Ong, Deputy Director, Curatorial Programmes.
 

Image credit: Ho Tzu Nyen, The Name, 2015, still from single-channel HD projection, surround sound, 16 min 51 sec, with 16 books by the author Gene Z. Hanrahan. Courtesy the artist.

Public programmes

Screening: Anyang, Paradise City, Park Chan-kyong, South Korea, 2010, 101 min
8 Sep 2017, Fri 07:30 PM - 09:00 PM

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Park’s first full-length feature film, Anyang, Paradise City is a mix between documentary and fiction, inspired by a seldom-remembered incident during the Olympic Games in 1988, where 22 female workers were killed in a fire in Anyang. The glorious past of Anyang (a Buddhist term for “paradise”) allegedly includes the existence of a huge temple surrounded by the beautiful mountains and streams around 1000 years ago. Researching into Buddhism and the history of Anyang, Park follows the temple excavations and searches for the 500-year-old “grandma tree”. The film traces this
past through the natural landscape
and alludes to the future through the city’s mayoral election. As if travelling between paradise and hell, the camera hunts, rests, and plays as if dancing with the cityscape, while layering narrative, history, contemporary life, landscape/ architecture, and politics.

This Screening is part of the public programme of Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History.

Workshop for Teachers and Educators by educator and artist Kelly Reedy
9 Sep 2017, Sat 10:00 AM - 01:00 PM

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This workshop focuses on the artists and the works included in the exhibition Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History. It provides the opportunity for educators to explore how contemporary art addresses issues and concerns of our times. The workshop engages with artistic practices and prepares for visits with students by providing educational tools as entry points to the exhibition, and assisting educators in identifying aspects of the exhibition that might be relevant to their classes. It suggests techniques for exploring both the visual arts and other areas of daily encounters.

To sign-up, please send an email to NTUCCAeducation@ntu.edu.sg.

siren eun young jung
Wrong Indexing: Yeoseong Gukgeuk Archive
9 Sep 2017, Sat - 8 Oct 2017, Sun

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As a genre of theatre that features exclusively women actors, Yeoseong Gukgeuk reached the peak of popularity in the 1950s and 1960s, its success being tightly intertwined with the process of modernisation of South Korea. While today it lingers on the verge of extinction, in the post-colonial period Yeoseong Gukgeuk opened up a space for women to embody “other” identities and perform different subjectivities. Reinventing the traditional Korean theatre, they brought the process of gender-shifting to the limelight and subverted socially acceptable norms by blurring conventional gender binaries. Since 2008, siren eun young jung has investigated the public and private lives of Yeoseong Gukgeuk performers who, after the genre fell out of favour, went on to live disparate lives. This configuration of archival materials offers an insight into the artist’s research process and articulates the politics of recollecting, weaving together queer desires and patterns of resistance, affective matters and subversive subjectivities, gender fluidity and the performance of difference.

Wrong Indexing: Yeoseong Gukgeuk Archive is curated by Dr Anna Lovecchio, Curator, Residencies.

Flowers from our Bloodlines: Lecture Performance by artist Zarina Muhammad (Singapore) in collaboration with choreographer Stefania Rossetti (Italy/France/Indonesia), featuring Vivian Wang (Singapore), artist Eric Lee (Malaysia), and sound artist Tini Aliman (Singapore)
22 Sep 2017, Fri 07:30 PM - 09:00 PM

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Therianthropy, the mythological ability of humans to metamorphose into other animals through shapeshifting, has marked myth and folklore across cultures and times, remaining one of the most common tropes in magical and otherworldly narratives. Drawing from concepts of the demonised and desired body, gender-based archetypes, and mythmaking, this lecture performance invokes family histories and revokes the lineages of colonisation in Southeast Asia. The event unfolds through the layering of personal memory, collective history, and fragments of ancestral and indigenous knowledge on healing and killing. Remembering the rites of the Wolf Spider and the Harimau Jadian (Were-Tiger) and exploring their multiple translations and adaptations, the performance looks at intergenerational and cross-cultural exchange through storytelling, rituals, gestures, and embodied movement. 

This programme takes place on the occasion of Art After Dark x Gillman Barracks 5th Anniversary Celebrations.

Screening: Orpheus, Jean Cocteau, France, 1950, 110 min
29 Sep 2017, Fri 07:30 PM - 09:00 PM

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Considered one of Cocteau’s masterpieces, Orpheus updates the myth of Orpheus and depicts a famous poet, scorned by the Left Bank youth, and his love for both his wife, Eurydice, and a mysterious princess. Seeking inspiration, the poet follows the princess to the land of the dead, through Cocteau’s famous mirrored portal. Translating this Greek myth by adapting the story about love, death, and the underworld into a modern scenario allows Cocteau to resonate political questions concerning some younger historical events like war, oppression, and Nazism. This film is the central part of Cocteau’s Orphic Trilogy, the other two being The Blood of a Poet (1930) and Testament of Orpheus (1960).

This Screening is part of the public programme of Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History.

Exhibition (de)Tour with sociologist Professor Chua Beng Huat, Yale-NUS College
4 Oct 2017, Wed 07:30 PM - 09:00 PM

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Deconstructing Asian history from the 20th century from a cultural studies perspective, Professor Chua will trace parallels to the histories addressed by the works in the exhibition. Expanding on political themes such as communism in Malaya or Thai insurgence, historical narratives occurring in the featured works will be further contextualised and interpreted. The socio-political backgrounds of the different installations and films not only gain clarity but are understood within the larger frame of Asian modernity.

Screenings: Chia-Wei Hsu (Taiwan)
6 Oct 2017, Fri 07:30 PM - 09:00 PM

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Huai Mo Village, Thailand, 2012, 8 min 20 sec
Ruins of the intelligence bureau, Thailand, 2015, 13 min 30 sec
White Building – Sva Pul, Kong Nay, Sisters, Rooftop, Cambodia, 2016, 18 min

The artist will be present.

Chia-Wei Hsu’s ten-year long engagement with the moving image and the forgotten stories of the Cold War 
in Southeast Asia resulted in a complex body of works which address major historical events through the lens of minor narratives, often embedded in remote locations, that weave together reality and fiction, myth and history. Delving into the history of the Huai
Mo Village in northern Thailand, the artist collaborates with soldiers and children to trace the story of the exiled Chinese soldiers who settled at the Thai-Myanmar border and were never able to return home. In Cambodia, the artist looks at the White Building in Phnom Penh to reference the violent history of repression during the Khmer Rouge occupation, where 90 percent of performance artists were executed. After liberation, the surviving artists were assigned accommodation in the White Building. In the wake of its upcoming demolition, Hsu invited four second- generation performing groups to engage with the White Building, their former home.

This Screening is part of the public programme of Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History.

Choy Ka Fai
The wind that cuts the body
13 Oct 2017, Fri - 10 Dec 2017, Sun

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Driven by his interest in exploring the conditions of the human body, multi- disciplinary artist Choy Ka Fai focuses his research on choreographic practices in
Asia. The wind that cuts the body presents his current investigation into Butoh, which arose in Japan at the end of the 1950s, encompassing a diverse range of techniques from dance, theatre, and movement. Choy traces the legacy of one of the key founders, Tatsumi Hijikata (1928–1986) who sought a new form of physical expression he referred to as ankoku butō (“dance of darkness”), delving into imageries of the grotesque and sickness of the human form. The research presentation will feature a selection of reference materials from the Tatsumi Hijikata Archive in Tokyo and from the artist’s expeditions, interviews, and documentary sketches. In his pursuit, Choy went to the extent of interviewing the spirit of Hijikata through an itako (Japanese shaman) and to speculate on the technological possibilities of dancing with Hijikata again.

The wind that cuts the body is curated by Khim Ong, Deputy Director, Curatorial Programmes.

Workshop for Children:
Inner Warriors! by artist anGie seah
21 Oct 2017, Sat 01:30 PM - 03:45 PM

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Admission Fee: $20
Purchase your tickets here!

Tote Board Arts Grant here.
The workshop is of limited capacity. Please write to Ms. Syaheedah Iskandar at siskandar@ntu.edu.sg for further enquiries on registration and space availability.

Beliefs and superstitions concepts are often manifested through a rich visual imagery that attempts to represent otherworldly presences. Our imagination and instincts give form to that what is invisible, which can also be imagined to exist within ourselves. This artist-run workshop developed for children aged 7 to 12 explores the invisible force within us that can be seen as the ‘fighting spirit,’ the strength that keeps us going. Participants will be introduced to stencil techniques, as well as the dripping and sponging techniques of action painting.

Symposium: Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History. On the occasion of the Four-Year Anniversary of NTU CCA Singapore
28 Oct 2017, Sat 09:30 AM - 08:00 PM

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Admission fee S$35.
Free for NTU students.
Register at http://symposium-ghosts-and-spectres.peatix.com/view

On the occasion of the exhibition Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History 
and NTU CCA Singapore’s four-year anniversary, this symposium brings together the exhibiting artists as well as curators and scholars from the region to expand on the subjects approached by the works. Taking as a point of departure the artworks’ impulse of bringing to light past events and revive collective memory, each session in the symposium deepens the understanding of the varied artistic processes and strategies through structured conversations consisting of lectures, presentations, and moderated discussions.

Symposium programme

9.30 – 10.00am
Registration

10.00 – 10.10am

Welcome address by Professor Ute Meta Bauer

10.10 – 11.10am

Keynote Lecture by curator and moving image theorist Dr May Adadol Ingawanij

Focusing on artists cinema and moving image installations in Southeast Asia, the lecture addresses the relationship between contemporary moving image aesthetics, historical invocation and the politics of enunciation. Dr Ingawanij will expand on how everyday life, conflicts, violence, and historical erasures specific to places in Southeast Asia are sources of inspiration and motivation for many artists.

11.10am – 1.10pm

Panel: Shadows of History

Chaired by curator and art historian Dr Roger Nelson
Lecture by curator and art historian Dr June Yap
Presentations by artists Ho Tzu Nyen and Nguyen Trinh Thi

Dedicated to the uncovering of neglected histories, this session will look at the construction of historical narratives and its role in reflecting social, political, and cultural conditions. Occluded by propagation of progress and nation building, what has been left out and rendered in the region’s bid to establish national identities and political autonomy? Referencing the works of Ho Tzu Nyen and Nguyen Trinh Thi, this session traces Post War and Cold War legacies in Asia and investigates its lingering spectres.

1.30 – 2.00pm

Introduction of Exhibition Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History
by Khim Ong

2.30 – 4.30pm

Panel: Ghosts and Spectres
Chaired by researcher and curator Dr David Teh
Lecture by curator Hyunjin Kim
Presentations by artist Park Chan- kyong and art historian Dr Clare Veal (on Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

This session deals with notions of ghosts and spectres as allegories to historical moments and dreamlike realities. Embedded in myths and folklore traditions, what roles do they play in constructing an understanding of the past and in reflecting socio-political circumstances? How do cinematic works engage its medium-specificity in a play of historical phantoms of repressed collective memories to create a language for portraying trauma, loss, dreams, and nightmares?

4.30 – 5.30pm

Closing Keynote Lecture by Professor Kenneth Dean, Head of Chinese Studies Department, NUS

Professor Kenneth Dean will reflect on the day’s discussions from the perspective of local historical research, and expands on them through referencing folkloric and vernacular practices.

5.45 – 6.30pm

Book Launch: Thai Art: Currencies of the Contemporary (MIT Press, 2017) by Dr David Teh
With introduction by the author and conversation with Dr May Adadol Ingawanij and Dr Roger Nelson

Since the 1990s, Thai contemporary art has achieved considerable international recognition. But while many Thai artists shed identification with their nation, “Thainess” remains an interpretive crutch for understanding their work. David Teh examines the competing claims to contemporaneity staked in Thailand, and on behalf of Thai art elsewhere, against a backdrop of sustained political and economic turmoil.

7.00 – 8.00pm

The Critical Dictionary of Southeast Asia, Volume 4: V for Voice
Performance by artist Ho Tzu Nyen and Bani Haykal

Ho Tzu Nyen’s The Critical Dictionary of Southeast Asia (cdosea, 2012-ongoing) has generated a number of works for the artist including The Name and The Nameless. Since 2016, Ho has been working with a group of collaborators to manifest cdosea, resulting in the creation of an algorithm that composes endless combinations of audio-visual materials extracted from the Internet (cdosea.org). This experiment performance is the first timecdosea is presented in a live context, with sound artist Bani Haykal improvising in response to images generated in real time.

Screening: Vampir-Cuadecuc, Pere Portabella, Spain, 1970, 66 min
29 Oct 2017, Sun 05:00 PM - 07:00 PM

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Tickets: S$13.50 standard; S$11.50 concession. Purchase at theprojector.sg

Introduction by Professor Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director, NTU CCA Singapore, and Professor, School of Art, Design and Media (ADM), NTU

 

Vampir-Cuadecuc is arguably one of the key films for understanding the transition in the Spanish film world from the period of the “new cinemas” (permitted by the Franco government) towards the illegal, clandestine, or openly antagonistic practices against the Franco regime. The film consists of shooting the filming of a commercial film El Conde Drácula by Jesús Franco. Portabella practices two types of violence on the standard narrative: he totally eliminates colour and substitutes the soundtrack with a landscape of image-sound collisions by Carles Santos. Filmed provocatively in 16mm and with sound negative, the tensions between black and white favour the strange “fantasmatic materialism” of this revealing analysis of the construction mechanism for the magic in dominant narrative cinema, which at the same time constitutes a radical intervention in the Spanish cinematographic institution.

This Screening is part of the public programme of Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History.

Screenings: The Mad Masters, Jean Rouch, France, and Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti, Maya Deren, Ukraine/United States
3 Nov 2017, Fri 07:30 PM - 09:00 PM

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Introduction by Dr Marc Glöde, film scholar and Assistant Professor, School of Art, Design and Media (ADM), NTU

 

The Mad Masters, Jean Rouch, France, 1955, 36 min

Image credit: Jean Rouch, The Mad Masters, 1955, film still. Courtesy the artist.

For Jean Rouch’s landmark film The Mad Masters, the French filmmaker himself coined the term “ethnofiction” due to the blending of both documentary and fictional aspects. Rouch takes his viewers to the city of Accra (West Africa) where he follows the Hauka movement and their religious and ritual proceedings, consisting of mimicry and dancing to become possessed by British Colonial administrators. The work caused a highly political debate since on one hand it was considered offensive to colonial authorities because of the Africans’ blatant attempts to mimic and mock the “white oppressors” and, on the other hand, African students, teachers, and directors found the film to perpetrate an “exotic racism” of the African people. An outstanding film that until today is one of the classics to be revisited and discussed.

 

Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti, Maya Deren, United States, 1985, 52 min

Image credit: Maya Deren, Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti, 1985, film still. Courtesy the artist.

Between 1947 and 1951 the experimental filmmaker Maya Deren spent significant periods of time in Haiti to make a film about Voodoo rituals and rites. The material she shot was left unedited until after her death when it was assembled into the film Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti. Deren’s work reveals the ongoing merging of art and ethnography, one of the legacies of Surrealism, also standing as an important cultural record of Haitian Voodoo—a religion based on West African beliefs and practices, combined with aspects of Roman Catholicism. The contrasting of Haitian dance with ‘non-Haitian elements’ in a series of dream-like sequences testifies to Deren’s Surrealist interest in alternative realities. Gradually, the focus shifted from dance to the complex nature of Haitian ceremonies, while celebrating Haiti for its hybrid culture as well as for its symbolic importance as the political site of a successful slave revolution, which resulted in Haiti becoming the first modern black republic.

 

These Screenings are part of the public programme of ostosts and Spectres – Shadows of History.

Exhibition (de)Tour with Kathleen Ditzig, Assistant Curator and Manager, Curatorial and Programmes, National Museum Singapore
15 Nov 2017, Wed 07:30 PM - 09:00 PM

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In 1953, Carlos P. Romulo, the then Ambassador of the Philippines to the United States, described Southeast Asia as “the theatre of conflict between the free world and the Soviet world,” representing “the margin between victory and defeat for freedom.” Beginning with an examination of the exhibition of the First Southeast Asia Art Conference and Competition in Manila in 1957, this talk focuses on pragmatic mediation—of switching political allegiances and circumventing power. Responding to the artworks of Ghosts and Spectres, it considers the legacy of the Cold War battle for ‘hearts and minds’ in Southeast Asia and cultural production that navigates as much as it is informed by geo-politics.

Screening Series: 
Unruly Shadows: Artist Films and Videos on Challenging Spheres
18 Nov 2017, Sat - 19 Nov 2017, Sun 12:00 PM - 07:00 PM

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A weekend screening of specially selected artist films and videos by artists from Asia that expands from the context of the exhibition and includes subjects of myths, history, politics, ghosts, and spectres. The selection will reflect on conflicts specific to various localities where shadows from the past have yet to be laid to rest and promises of the future yet to arrive. The screenings are accompanied by a programme of introductions, talks, and discussions between a group of locally-based curators and researchers, addressing the controversies present in the screened works.

Introductions by: Dr Marc Glöde, film scholar and Assistant Professor, School of Art, Design and Media, NTU; Fang-Tze Hsu, independent researcher and curator;
 Sam I-Shan, Curator of Visual Arts, Esplanade; Qinyi
 Lim, independent curator and writer; Sidd Perez, Assistant Curator, NUS Museum; Silke Schmickl, Curator, National Gallery Singapore; and Dr David Teh, curator, writer, and researcher based at the National University of Singapore.

Watch this space for updates on the screening schedule!

Image credit: Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Fireworks (Archives), 2014, single-channel video installation, 6 min 40 sec. Fireworks, 20 May – 14 June, 2014, kurimanzutto, installation view. Courtesy the artist.