Han Nefkens Foundation – Fundació Antoni Tàpies Video Art Production Award
Tekla Aslanishvili
A State in A State

11 Oct 2022, Tue – 6 Nov 2022, Sun
The Screening Room, Block 38 Malan Road, #01-06
12 pm – 7pm, every day except Monday
Film starts every hour

Premier Screening: Tuesday 11 October, 7:00pm-8:30pm
The screening will be followed by a conversation between the artist Tekla Aslanishvili, artistic-scientific collaborator Dr. Evelina Gambino and Assistant Professor Dr. Marc Gloede, School of Art, Design and Media, NTU, Singapore.
The welcome will be given by Ute Meta Bauer, Professor, School of Art, Design and Media, and Founding Director, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, and Dr. Karin Oen, Senior Lecturer and Head of Department, Art History, NTU School of Humanities.

A State in a State is the result of Aslanishvili winning the Han Nefkens Foundation – Fundació Antoni Tàpies Video Art Production Grant 2020, in collaboration with Jameel Art Centre, Dubai; the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design in Manila; NTU CCA Singapore and WIELS, Brussels. The Award appraises the work of emerging artists aged 40 and under, who live in West or Central Asia and have established a solid trajectory but not yet received recognition by international art institutions.

Aslanishvili was selected by an international jury, including NTU CCA Singapore’s Founding Director Ute Meta Bauer and former Deputy Director of Curatorial Programmes, Dr Karin Oen, for her body of meticulously researched work and her commitment to exploring a specific geopolitical context, whilst connecting to a wider discourse on the impact of extractivist economies on a planetary scale.

A State in a State is an experimental documentary following the construction, disruption, and fragmentation of railroads in the South Caucasus and Caspian regions. It examines railways as a technical materialisation of the fragile political borders that have re-emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Tekla Aslanishvili, A State in a state, 2022. colour, black and white, AVCHD Digital film; archival & found footage, sound, 47 min. video still. Commissioned by Han Nefkens Foundation – Fundació Antoni Tàpies Video Art Production Award. Image courtesy the Artist.

Revolving around the scenes of delay and waiting that constitute cargo mobility, the film reads the optimistic narratives about the New Silk Road against the grain. It observes how the iron foundation of connectivity can be used as a weapon of exclusion and geopolitical sabotage. Dotting the same lines, other forms of sabotage are deployed by workers to disrupt the political violence. Looking at historic and current practices of resistance, A State in a State explores the potential of railroads for building a different, infrastructural consciousness, and the lasting transnational kinship among the people who live and work around them

The film is developed in artistic-scientific collaboration with Dr. Evelina Gambino, Margaret Tyler Research Fellow in Geography at Girton College, University of Cambridge.

Research & Script: Tekla Aslanishvili / Evelina Gambino
Music: Ani Zakareishvili / Nika Pasuri
Cinematography: Nikoloz Tabukashvili / Tekla Aslanishvili
Typography: Dato Simonia

Editing: Tekla Aslanishvili
Sound: Viktor Bone / Irakli Shonia
Color: Sally Shamas

A State in a State will be also presented at the Fundació Antoni Tàpies in Barcelona  from October 8th till November 27th.


Tekla Aslanishvili (b. Tbilisi, 1988) is an artist, filmmaker and essayist based between Berlin and Tbilisi. Her works emerge at the intersection of infrastructural design, history and geopolitics. Tekla graduated from the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts in 2009 and she holds a MFA from the Berlin University of the Arts – the department of Experimental Film and New Media Art. Aslanishvili’s films have been screened and exhibited internationally at PACT Zollverein, Neue Berliner Kunstverein, Baltic Triennial, Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Kasseler Dokfest, Kunsthalle Münster, EMAF – European Media Art Festival, Videonale 18, Tbilisi Architecture Biennial. She is a 2018–2019 Digital Earth fellow, the nominee for Ars-Viva Art prize 2021 and the recipient of the Han Nefkens Foundation – Fundació Antoni Tàpies Video Art Production Award 2020.

Marc Glöde (PhD), is a curator, critic and film scholar. His work is focusing on the relation of images, technology, space, and the body, as well as the dynamics between fields such as art/architecture, art/film, and film/architecture. Since 2017 he is an Assistant Professor at NTU/ADM, Singapore and Co-Director of the MA in Museum Studies and Curatorial Practices.

About Han Nefkens Foundation
The Han Nefkens Foundation was established in 2009 with the aim of connecting people through art. In 2016, Han Nefkens decided to focus exclusively on supporting emerging and mid-career international video artists through Awards, Production Grants, and Mentorship Grants. The Foundation is not only involved in producing new works with the artists, but also finding international residencies, producing publications, purchasing working tools, finding technical support, and bringing artists into contact with art institutions and peers. With an extensive network in countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Korea, Ecuador, Peru, Spain, and the Netherlands, the Foundation is able to present artists to a diverse and global audience.

Judging Panel
The winner has been selected by a judging panel chaired by Han Nefkens, Founder of the Han Nefkens Foundation; Carles Guerra, representing the Fundació Antoni Tàpies; Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director of the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art; Dirk Snauwaert, Director of WIELS; Joselina Cruz, Director/Curator at Museum of Contemporary Art and Design and Nora Razian, Head of Exhibitions at Jameel Arts Centre, in the presence of Hilde Teerlinck, Director of the Han Nefkens Foundation; Alessandra Biscaro, Coordinator of the Han Nefkens Foundation; Zoë Gray: Senior Curator of WIELS and Karin Oen, Deputy Director, Curatorial Programmes at NTU Centre for Contemporary Art.

Image Credits
Tekla Aslanishvili
A State in A State, 2022
Colour, black and white, AVCHD Digital film; archival & found footage, sound, 47 min.
video still
Commissioned by Han Nefkens Foundation – Fundació Antoni Tàpies Video Art Production Award
Courtesy the Artist

During the residency, Lyno will explore the entangled histories of colonialism, modernisation, and urbanisation focusing on the Garden of Tropical Agronomy, located in the Bois de Vincennes, one of the largest public parks in Paris which hosted the International Colonial Exposition in 1931. The exposition featured several architectural representations of the colonies, including Cambodia and Indochina, the remnants of which are still extant today surrounded by modern facilities. The artist is interested in excavating the politics of the built environment to understand the historical role architecture has played in the construction of imperialist agendas and the lingering implications of colonial symbolism and power structures in the present.

Find out more about SEA AiR.

Thinking in terms of borders and boundaries, either physical and symbolic, the artist intends to map out the lived experience of forced mobility and dispossession as well as its underlying power struggles and emotional trails. His research will revolve specifically on migrant songs, a cultural expression often characterized by melancholic melodies and sombre lyrics that speaks of longing, hard work, and perseverance. Conveying the experience of otherness and stirring emotions of communality, migrant songs haunts our times of unprecedented global mass migration and the contemporary debates surrounding exclusionary nationalist politics. Through participatory workshops aimed at lyric writing, music composition, and vocalisation, migrant songs will be created and disseminated in an effort to redraw boundaries of belonging.

In our third episode, we open up this platform for the first time to a guest interviewer. We invited artist and filmmaker Kent Chan to pick the brain of our Artist-in-Residence Yeo Siew Hua. Beyond being both filmmakers and artists, Siew Hua and Kent have been occasional collaborators in the past and, most importantly, they are also long-time friends. Hear them speak candidly about the intertwined cycles of art-making and fund-raising, the blurred line between cinema and visual arts, as well as the philosophical underpinnings and the importance of collaboration in Siew Hua’s practice.  

The practice of Yeo Siew Hua (b. 1985, Singapore) spans film directing and screenwriting. His films probe the darkest side of contemporary society through narratives layered with mysterious atmospheres, inscrutable characters, and mythological references, all steeped in arresting visuals and sounds. His last feature film A Land Imagined (2018) harnessed recognition around the world receiving the Golden Leopard at the 71st Locarno Film Festival and the Best Original Screenplay and Best Original Music Score Awards at the 56th Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival. 

After A Land Imagined, Siew Hua has created a number of short films, one of which, An Invocation to the Earth (2020), commissioned by the Singapore International Film Festival and TBA21, was co-produced with NTU CCA Singapore. An Invocation to the Earth can be viewed online at www.stage.tba21.org. During the residency, Siew Hua has been completing his next major production titled The Once and Future, an expanded cinema project which will premiere at the Singapore International Festival of Arts 2022. In 2021, he received the Young Artist Award, Singapore’s highest award for young arts practitioners.

Kent Chan (b. 1984, Singapore) is an artist, curator, and filmmaker currently based in Amsterdam. His practice weaves encounters between art, fiction, and cinema with a particular interest in the tropical imagination, colonialism, and the relation between heat and art. He has held solo presentations at Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht, Netherlands (2020-21), National University Singapore Museum (2019-21) and SCCA-Ljubljana, Centre for Contemporary Arts, Slovenia (2017). He was Artist-in-Residence at Jan van Eyck Academie (2019-20) and at NTU CCA Singapore (2017-2018). 

Contributors: Yeo Siew Hua, Kent Chan 
Conducted by: Anna Lovecchio 
Programme Manager: Kristine Tan 
Sound Engineer: Ashwin Menon (The Music Parlour)
Intro & Outro Music: Tini Aliman 
Cover Image & Design: Arabelle Zhuang, Kristine Tan

06’42”: Audio excerpt from Yeo Siew Hua, A Land Imagined, 2018. Courtesy the artist.
11’46”: Audio excerpt from Yeo Siew Hua, The Obs: A Singapore Story, 2014. Courtesy the artist.
22’55”: Audio excerpt from Yeo Siew Hua, The Once and Future, 2022. Courtesy the artist.
40’49”: Audio excerpt from Yeo Siew Hua, The Lover, The Excess, The Ascetic and the Fool, 2021. Courtesy the artist.

[See Full Transcript]

Erika Tan (b. 1967, Singapore) is an artist and Lecturer at Central Saint Martins, London. Her research-led practice develops from an interest in received narratives, contested heritage, subjugated voices, and the transnational movement of ideas, people, and objects. Between July and August 2015, Tan was Artist-in-Residence at NTU CCA Singapore where she continued her research into the minor historical figure of the Malay weaver Halimah and the conditions surrounding the 1924 British Empire Exhibiton, an inquiry that has since developed into the video installations APA JIKA, The Mis-Placed Comma and The ‘Forgotten’ Weaver (both in 2017).

Over the past decade, the practice of Baptist Coelho (b. 1977, India) has revolved around the unspoken narratives and intricate trajectories of the Siachen Glacier, a conflict zone between India and Pakistan. His work also often addresses India’s involvement in the two world wars. Through extended archival and ethnographic research, he engages a variety of subjects to probe the physical, psychological, and emotional implications engendered by conflicts, wars, states of conscriptions, and acts of heroism. His works have been exhibited internationally at JSLH Art Gallery, Sonipat, India (2019); Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2018); and Somerset House, London, United Kingdom (2016) among other venues. Coelho was awarded the Sovereign Asian Art Prize in 2016.

Brigitte van der Sande (b. 1957, Netherlands) is an art historian, curator, and writer based in Amsterdam. She is the artistic director of Other Futures, a multidisciplinary platform that frames science fiction as an empowerment tool to envision the future and build a new and better world. In the early 1990s, van der Sande began a long-term research about the representation of war in art which developed through lectures, workshops, the exhibition Soft Target. War as a Daily, First-Hand Reality held at BAK, basis actuele kunst, Utrecht (2005), and War Zone Amsterdam, a series of presentations which took place at Mediamatic in Amsterdam (2009), accompanied by a reader published on open! Platform for Art, Culture, and the Public Domain. Between 2013 and 2014, she curated See You in The Hague (2013-2014) at Stroom Den Haag, The Hague and she co-curated, with Babs Bakels, The Last Image, an exhibition series about the relationship between death, the camera, and the spectator at The Nederlands Uitvaart Museum Tot Zover (Dutch Funeral Museum So Far), Amsterdam.

Art Labor is an artist collective. Comprised of artists Phan Thao Nguyen and Truong Cong Tung, and curator Arlette Quynh-Anh Tran, Art Labor works across visual arts and social sphere. In December 2015, Art Labor were Artists-in-Residence at NTU CCA Singapore where they recreated a Hammock Café serving traditional Vietnamese coffee, similar to itinerant roadside-resting spots for drivers and passengers along provincial highways of the Central Highlands in Vietnam. The name Jrai Dew Hammock Café relates to the philosophy of Jrai people of Vietnam’s Central Highlands, according to which, in the last stage of life cycle, humans evaporate into the environment and transform into “dew,” a state of non-being (ia ngôm in Jrai language).

Alfredo Cramerotti is a cultural entrepreneur, writer, curator, and broadcaster. He is currently Director of MOSTYN, Llandudno (Wales, United Kingdom); Head Curator of APT Global-Artist Pension Trust; and Associate Curator of CCANW (Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World). In recent years, he has curated Sean Scully: Standing on the Edge of the World at the Hong Kong Arts Centre (2018), Shezad Dawood: Leviathan, Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice, Italy (2017), three national pavilions at the Venice Biennale (Mauritius in 2015, Wales and Maldives in 2013), and the biennials Sequences VII, Reykjavík Iceland (2015) and Manifesta 8, Murcia, Spain (2010). He serves as Vice-President of AICA (International Association of Art Critics) and as editor of the Critical Photography Book series. His own publications include Forewords: Hyperimages and Hyperimaging (2018), Unmapping the City: Perspectives of Flatness (2010) and Aesthetic Journalism: How to inform without informing (2009). Cramerotti is also a Doctoral Researcher in Communication Design and Photography at the European Centre for Photography, University of South Wales.

In 2012, Liu Yu chanced upon a stack of love letters in a flea market in Taipei. Dating back to the 1970s, the letters were addressed by Dong-Zheng Lai, a seafarer working on cargo ships, to his wife-to-be. Interwoven in this correspondence are descriptions of port cities and fishing villages as well as hints to monsoon seasons and the political climate of the time which cast both history and geography on an intimate scale. During the residency, Liu Yu will work on the second film of a series inspired by Dong-Zheng Lai’s movements and memories. Titled Love Letter and A Map of Memory, this experimental documentary will focus on the monsoon route from Taiwan to Singapore, a busy shipping lane that cuts across the Riau islands and was historically frequented by pirates. Framing the sea as a space impervious to geopolitical boundaries and piracy as an instance of political upheaval, the artist will chart historical events and modern-day occurrences of piracy to create a work that speculates on power and personal relationships growing at the intersection of climatic patterns, geographical features, and human agency.

The artist was scheduled to be in-residence from April – June 2020. Due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak and international travel restrictions, the artist was unable to participate in the residency programme physically.

Liu Yu screened Somehow I feel relaxed here (2017) as part of the Residencies Online Screening Programme Stakes of Conscious(ness), conceived by Dr Anna Lovecchio for the three artists whose residency at NTU CCA Singapore has been disrupted by the viral pandemic.

Tan Kai Syng’s residency explores global issues through extended conversations with Singapore-based colleagues. In the first part of her residency, she developed the participatory project PICTURING HAPPINESS? with three other artists and two scientists from the School of Computer Science, Nanyang Technological University. Using commercially-available devices that read brain waves, the project explored the parameters that define our sense of well-being, critiquing the market-driven framing of happiness as a motionless, thought-free state of mind. This was the beginning of a cross-disciplinary investigation that the artist is currently pursuing together with several psychiatrists in London. For the second part of the residency, Tan will also examine notions of gender. Working together with pioneer feminist artist Amanda Heng and two other women arts professionals, they will convene a public programme to discuss how gender affects collaborative artistic practices in Singapore and beyond.