Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History
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.
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.
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.
Wrong Indexing: Yeoseong Gukgeuk Archive
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 programmes of Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History, as well as Archifest 2017: Building Agency.
The wind that cuts the body
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.
Inner Warriors! by artist anGie seah
This event has been cancelled.
Admission Fee: $20
Purchase your tickets here!
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 15 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.
On the occasion of the exhibition Ghost and Spectres – Shadows of History curated by Professor Ute Meta Bauer and Khim Ong, and the 4th anniversary of NTU CCA Singapore
Admission fee S$35.
Free for Nanyang Technological University (NTU) students.
Register at http://symposium-ghosts-and-spectres.peatix.com/view
Taking the works in the current show as points of departure, the symposium brings together the artists of the exhibition, as well as curators and scholars researching on the subject matter, to generate a discussion on muted histories and legacies, as they cast light upon past events that still impact society today, particularly in terms of power structures and restriction of social freedom. The role of the moving image—the medium used by the four exhibiting artists—will be analysed to demonstrate how it reveals, as much as it conceals, past traumas that evade representation.
Divided into two sessions, the symposium explores the artists’ working processes and methodological approaches through structured conversations consisting of lectures, presentations, and moderated discussions. The focus will lie on the sources of inspiration as well as on the motivations of the artists’ practices, and on the construction and contestation of official narratives. Ho Tzu Nyen, Nguyen Trinh Thi, and Park Chan-kyong will expand on the historical events and socio-political contexts that feed into their work, and on the different strategies employed to revive collective memory. Scholar Dr Clare Veal will highlight the medium specificity in the works of Apichatpong Weerasethakul to address conflicted histories, whereas the lectures by curators Dr June Yap and Hyunjin Kim, as well as the keynote lectures by Dr May Adadol Ingawanij and Professor Kenneth Dean, aim to articulate the complicated geopolitical relations in contemporary Asia.
11.00am – 1.10pm
Session I: Shadows of History
Chaired by Dr Roger Nelson, curator and art historian, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, School of Art Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and NTU CCA Singapore
Dedicated to the uncovering of neglected histories, this session will look at the construction of historical narratives and their role in reflecting social, political, and cultural conditions. Occluded by the propagation of progress and nation building, what has been left out and rendered unspeakable 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 their lingering spectres.
2.30 – 5.30pm
Session II: Ghosts and Spectres
Chaired by Dr David Teh, researcher and curator, Assistant Professor, Department of English Language and Literature, National University of Singapore (NUS)
Referencing the works of Park Chan-kyong and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, this session deals with notions of ghosts and spectres as allegories of historical moments and dreamlike realities. Embedded in myths and folklore, what roles do they play in constructing an understanding of the past and in reflecting socio-political circumstances? How do cinematic works engage their medium-specificity in a play of historical phantoms and repressed collective memories, to create a language for portraying trauma, loss, dreams, and nightmares?
10.00 – 10.10am
Welcome address by Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director, NTU CCA Singapore and Professor, School of Art, Design and Media (ADM)
10.10 – 11.10am
Keynote Lecture: “The Art of Uncertainty”
Dr May Adadol Ingawanij, curator and moving image theorist, University of Westminster, London
Session I: Shadows of History
11.10am – 1.10pm
Lecture: “In the Interest of Time”
Dr June Yap, Director of Curatorial Programmes and Publications, Singapore Art Museum
Presentation: “On distances between an Artist and her Subjects”
Artist Nguyen Trinh Thi
Presentation: “Recycled Images: ‘The Critical Dictionary of Southeast Asia’ ”
Artist Ho Tzu Nyen
In Conversation: Dr Roger Nelson with Ho Tzu Nyen, Nguyen Trinh Thi, and Dr June Yap
1.30 – 2.00pm
Exhibition Tour of Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History
Khim Ong, co-curator and Deputy Director, Curatorial Programmes, NTU CCA Singapore
Session II: Ghosts and Spectres
2.30 – 4.30pm
Lecture: “Contested Modernity and the Image of History in East Asia”
Hyunjin Kim, curator, writer, and researcher
Presentation: “Colonial Unheimlich”
Artist Park Chan-kyong
Presentation: “The Spectre of Photography in the works of Apichatpong Weerasethakul”
Dr Clare Veal, art historian, Lecturer, MA Asian Art Histories, LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore
In Conversation: Dr David Teh with Hyunjin Kim, Park Chan-kyong, and Dr Clare Veal
4.30 – 5.30pm
Closing Keynote Lecture by Professor Kenneth Dean, Head, Department of Chinese Studies, NUS
EVENTS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC:
5.45 – 6.30pm
Book Launch: Thai Art: Currencies of the Contemporary (MIT Press, 2017)
Introduction by author, David Teh, in conversation with Dr May Adadol Ingawanij and Dr Roger Nelson
7.00 – 8.00pm
The Critical Dictionary of Southeast Asia, Volume 4: V for Voice
Performance by artists Ho Tzu Nyen and Bani Haykal
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 with sound negative, Vampire-Cuadecuc stages the tensions between the black and white of the film stock, and reveals the “fantasmatic materialism” that dominant narrative cinema is reliant upon.
This Screening is part of the public programme of Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History.
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 Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History.
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 – Shadows of History, 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.
Unruly Shadows: Artist Films and Videos on Challenging Spheres
19 Nov 2017, Sun 12:00 PM - 07:00 PM
Taking place on the closing weekend of Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History, the screening of selected films and videos by artists from Asia will expand on the discussion of moving image as an apparatus for capturing and propagating narratives. Through the notion of “ghost” and “spectres”, the programme entails discussions that take the exhibition as a point of departure, referencing mythologies, folklore, traditions, politics, and other prevalent themes portrayed in the artworks. It looks into the strategies employed by artists in visualising and imagining socio-political minefields. Due to the spectrum of collective experiences in a wider Asia, the film programme presents alternate visions of the exhibition, surfacing the undercurrents that permeate geopolitical entanglements. These anxieties present ways of approaching other logics of generational understanding, temporal localities, and regional variations as artists embark on translations of the past into contemporary imaginings. Confronting the unruliness of memory, the film programme draws parallels between history and the moving image: as moments that, in their unfolding, haunt us again and again.
The two-day event is divided into four themes: “Film and Cinema as Ghost”, “Acting and Re-enacting”, “Histories Turning Ghosts”, and “Rituals”. The screening programme will consist of works by Ayisha Abraham (India), akumassa (Indonesia), Phuttiphong Aroonpheng (Thailand), Martha Atienza (Philippines), Ashish Avikunthak (India), Chien-Chi Chang (Taiwan/Austria), Tiane Doan na Champassak and Jean Dubrel (France), Köken Ergun (Turkey), Bayu Prihantoro Filemon (Indonesia), Hikaru Fujii (Japan), Hao Jingban (China), Ho Tzu Nyen (Singapore), Daniel Hui (Singapore), Ing K (Thailand), Meiro Koizumi (Japan), Soni Kum (Korea/Japan), Lee Kai Chung (Hong Kong), K. M. Madhusudhanan (India), Nguyen Trinh Thi (Vietnam), Vandy Rattana (Cambodia/Taiwan), Taiki Sakpisit (Japan), Chulayarnnon Siriphol (Thailand), Angela Su (Hong Kong), Tan Pin Pin (Singapore), Erika Tan (Singapore/UK), John Torres (Philippines), and Otty Widasari (Indonesia). Scheduled screening will be accompanied by introductions, talks, and discussions between a group of Singapore-based curators and researchers, addressing the complexities embedded in the selected works. Speakers include Dr Marc Glöde, film scholar and Assistant Professor, School of Art, Design and Media, NTU; Fang-Tze Hsu, independent researcher and curator; Qinyi Lim, Curator, National Gallery Singapore; Sam I-Shan, Curator of Visual Arts, Esplanade; and Silke Schmickl, Curator, National Gallery Singapore.
Saturday, 18 November 2017, 12.00 – 7.30pm
Film and Cinema as Ghost
Short films, 12.00 – 1.15pm
Straight 8, Ayisha Abrahams, India, 2005, 17 min
Imaginati, akumassa, Indonesia, 2013, 13 min
A Presentation By Proxy, Erika Tan, UK, 2014, 21 min
Horor Satu Menit / One Minute Horror, Otty Widasari, Indonesia, 2005, 1 min
Mesures et Démesures, Angela Su, Hong Kong, 2015, 6 min
History is a Silent Film, K. M. Madhusudhanan, India, 2007, 17 min
Conversation, 1.15 – 1.35pm
Feature film: 1.35 – 3.00pm
People Power Bombshell: The Diary of Vietnam Rose 89’, John Torres, Philippines, 2016, 89 min
Acting and Re-enacting
Short films, 3.00 – 4.15pm
4×4 — Episodes of Singapore Art: Episode 3 — Tang Da Wu, The Most Radical Art Gesture, Ho Tzu Nyen, Singapore, 2005, 23 min
On the Origin of Fear, Bayu Prihantoro Filemon, Indonesia, 2016, 12 min
The History of Riots (The DJ), Lee Kai Chung, Hong Kong, 2013, 7 min
The Educational System of an Empire, Hikaru Fujiii, Japan, 2016, 21 min
Portrait of a Young Samurai, Meiro Koizumi, Japan, 2009, 10 min
Conversation, 4.15 – 4.35pm
Feature film, 4.35 – 7.30pm
Shakespeare Must Die, Ing K, Thailand, 2012, 176 min
Sunday, 19 November 2017, 12.00 – 7.00pm
Histories Turning Ghosts
Short films, 12.00 – 1.25pm
The Impossibility of Knowing, Tan Pin Pin, Singapore, 2010, 12 min
A Brief History of Memory, Chulayarnnon Siriphol, Thailand, 2010, 14 min
The War That Never Was, Chien-Chi Chang, Taiwan/Austria, 2017, 16 min
Landscape Series #1, Nguyen Trinh Thi, Vietnam, 2013, 5 min
Monologue, Vandy Rattana, Cambodia, 2015, 20 min
A Ripe Volcano, Taiki Sakpisit, Thailand, 2011, 16 min
Sukati / A Tale of Heaven, Phuttiphong Aroonpheng, Thailand, 2010, 6 min
Conversation, 1.25 – 1.45pm
Feature film, 1.45 – 3.30pm
Snakeskin, Daniel Hui, Singapore/Portugal, 2014, 105 min
Short films, 3.30 – 5.25pm
Anito, Martha Atienza, Philippines, 2012, 8 min
Vakratunda Swaha, Ashish Avikunthak, India, 2010, 21 min
Off Takes, Hao Jingban, China, 2016, 22 min
Ashura, Köken Ergun, Turkey, 2013, 25 min
Naptwe, the feast of the spirits, Tiane Doan na Champassak and Jean Dubrel, France, 2012, 31 min
Spring Comes Winter After, Nguyen Trinh Thi, Vietnam, 2008, 5 min
Conversation, 5.25 – 5.45pm
Feature film, 5.45 – 7.00pm
Foreign Sky, Soni Kum, Korea/Japan, 2005, 70 min
Image credit: Angela Su, Mesures et Démesures, 2015, film stills. Courtesy the artist.