Theatrical Fields introduces theatricality as a critical strategy in performance, film and video. This exhibition presents six video installations shown for the first time in Southeast Asia: Voice off by Judith Barry (USA), Suspiria by Stan Douglas (Canada), Lines in the Sand by Joan Jonas (USA), Vagabondia by Isaac Julien (UK), She Might Belong to You by Eva Meyer & Eran Schaerf (Germany / Israel), X Characters Re(hers)AL by Constanze Ruhm (Austria). Situated in juxtaposition, the works generate temporal spaces for experimental action, creating unfamiliar proximities and encounters.
Theatrical Fields was curated by Ute Meta Bauer (Founding Director) with Anca Rujoiu (Curator for Exhibitions), and was first presented and commissioned by the Bildmuseet, Umea in Sweden (2013).
As a collaboration, Bildmuseet Umea and NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore will publish a catalogue including keynotes from the symposium and additional commissioned essays.
Keynote: Eva Meyer
Life or Theatre? Events so far…
“Events so far… This phrase promises continuity. In our daily serial lives we expect a recap of previous episodes to help us find our way into the story. Yet in claiming to control a plot and its characters by specifying their time, place and identity, this phrase turns out to be a manifestation of seriality itself: the only thing certain is that the narrative elements will reappear. It is then a matter of the theatricality of their reappearance whether or not they disengage from representation and its narrative, and enter a free and indirect relation between life and theatre. “
Dr. Eva Meyer is a writer and filmmaker based in Berlin. She currently teaches at Zurich University of the Arts. Together with Eran Schaerf, she is the film director of She Might Belong to You features in Theatrical Fields.
Keynote: Timothy Murray
Screening Theatrical Phantasms: Toward an Uncertain Futurity
This talk will reflect on the fascination of artworks in Theatrical Fields with the phantasmatic past. In providing a brief theoretical overview of “the politics of theatricality,” Murray will reflect on the exhibition’s screenic re-possession of cinematic characters, buried stories, and influential texts in a way that challenges the historical groundings of theatricality in the ethnocentric certainty of culture and law.
Timothy Murray is Director of the Society for the Humanities, Curator of the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, Professor of Comparative Literature and English at Cornell University, and Co-Director of the Cornell/East China Normal University Center for Comparative Culture. He is editor of Mimesis, Masochism & Mime: The Politics of Theatricality in Contemporary French Thought (Michigan, 1997), and is the author of several publications including Digital Baroque: New Media Art and Cinematic Folds (Minnesota 2008); Drama Trauma: Specters of Race and Sexuality in Performance, Video, Art (Routledge, 1997).
Ong Keng Sen is festival director of the new Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) and artistic director of TheatreWorks Singapore (on-leave). He founded and curated the In-Transit festival for the Haus der Kulteren der Welt in Berlin from 2001-3. He has taught in many universities including Das Arts, UCLA, the University of Amsterdam and the National University of Singapore. He is also the founder of Arts Network Asia. A Fulbright Scholar, Keng Sen was awarded the prestigious Fukuoka Prize 2010 for his work in Asian contemporary performance.
As a response to Theatrical Fields, Ming Wong will introduce his research on the Cantonese cinema history in Hong Kong, looking at how the arrival of Cinema influenced traditional Cantonese opera.
Ming Wong is a Singapore-born, Berlin based artist who creates digital media installations informed by the history of cinema, to explore the relationship between language, identity and performance. He deliberately ‘mis-casts’ himself or others in re-interpretations of classic film scenes, often playing multiple roles in foreign languages.
Miguel Escobar’s presentation will focus on the contemporary Javanese Wayang Kulit Shadow Puppetry and radical re-elaborations forms of this performance tradition.
Miguel Escobar is a translator, web programmer and theatre researcher who lived in Mexico, The Netherlands, Singapore and Indonesia. He is fascinated by the intersections between cultural heritage, digital media and interculturalism. He is currently a PhD candidate at the National University of Singapore.
Entitled Normative Genders and the Prose of the World, Petrus Liu’s exhibition tour will address theatricality as a political strategy to challenge gender boundaries. Liu will reflect on the relation between “acting” in the theatrical sense and the political sense of “making a difference” for people who self-identify as queer. The talk will address various theories of gender performativity from Judith Butler to contemporary critical appropriations.
Petrus Liu is Associate Professor of Humanities and Head of Literature Studies at Yale-NUS College in Singapore. He is the author of Stateless Subjects: Chinese Martial Arts Fiction and Postcolonial History (Cornell 2011) and Queer Marxism in China (Duke, forthcoming)
The talk by Stefano Harney and Tonika Sealy relates directly to the ethos of their collective, Ground Provisions, which curates events around art as a political form ‘from below,’ with particular reference to the carnival traditions. They will address the dialectic of regulation and improvisation in connection to Singapore and any city seeking status as an art capital.
Ground Provisions collective is started by Stefano Harney and Tonika Sealy. Stefano Harney teaches ethics at Singapore Management University. Most recently, he co-authored with Fred Moten, The Undercommons: fugitive planning and black study. He is a member of the freethought curatorial collective, and founder of the School for Study, a collective of university researchers.
Tonika Maria Sealy is a founding partner of Ground Provisions, a collective based in the Caribbean and working globally to produce art, education, and social change.
This talk takes place at School of the Arts Singapore (SOTA) and is part of the Louis Vuitton – SOTA Arts Excellence Programme. Isaac Julien will share his approach in filming and research at the basis of his most recent films, which include Playtime (2014) and Ten Thousand Waves (2010).
Mark Nash will be in conversation with Isaac Julien addressing the artist’s work in Theatrical Fields, but also more recent productions such as Playtime. A screening of Playtime will follow the conversation.
Mark Nash is an independent curator and writer and, until recently, Professor and Head of Department of Curating Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art London.
The last talk on Theatrical Fields is led by NTU CCA Founding Director Ute Meta Bauer and Curator of Exhibitions, Anca Rujoiu. This is an opportunity to for audiences to know more about the exhibition framework and the use of theatricality as an artistic and curatorial tool. The tour ill be structured around a glossary of concepts such as ‘play’, ‘ritual’, ‘mask’, ‘choreography’ that stemmed out of the works in the exhibition.