During the residency, Russell Morton concentrates on developing his first feature film which tackles the perverse dynamics of crime and punishment as well as the ancient wisdom couched in local stories of haunting and other regional lore. Stemming from personal circumstances—due to his father’s employment as commander of the prison tactical unit, the artist grew up in Changi Prison’s quarters —Morton developed a direct, albeit unspoken, intimacy with the tortuous ethical issues and psychological consequences related to the most extreme form of law enforcement. Through researching archival materials, oral histories as well as literature and films from post-independence Singapore, the artist plans to interweave the nightmares and traumas experienced by both the punisher and the punished by steeping the fictional narrative into Malayan myths, folk music, and vernacular architecture.
Addressing contentious historical episodes, the films of Daniel Hui (b.1986, Singapore) straddle between documentary and fiction, blurring the boundaries between institutional accounts, mythical narratives, oral testimonies, and personal memories. His films have been screened at various film festivals and museums including the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, South Korea (2016); Singapore Art Museum (2015); and International Film Festival Rotterdam, Netherlands (2010). His feature-length film Snakeskin (2014) received awards at the 2015 Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, Japan, and at the Torino Film Festival, Italy in 2014. Hui’s latest film, Demons (2018) recently premiered at the Busan International Film Festival, South Korea.
Chia-Wei Hsu (b. 1983, Taiwan) an artist, filmmaker, and curator based in Taiwan whose work merges the language of contemporary art and film, often unveiling the complex production apparatus – cameras, camera cranes, lighting kits, microphones, etc. – employed in the filmmaking process. In his practice, Hsu unearths histories of the Cold War in Asia buried in precise geographical locations and brings them back to life through narrative and visual sequences that blend myth and reality, historical documentation and fictional developments. Fabricating a mythical narrative where stories, spirits, and machineries unfold on the same level, Hsu maintains a critical attitude toward the structure of film and often seeks to present his projects outside of museums and other contemporary art venues.
Chia-Wei Hsu’s works have been presented in numerous exhibitions and festivals worldwide, including Haus der Kulturen der Welt (2017); Cinema Muzeul Țăranului, Bucharest, Romania (2016); 4th Taiwan International Video Art Exhibition, Hong-Gah Museum, Taipei (2014); 55th International Venice Biennale, Italy (2013); 2012 Taipei Biennial, Taiwan, (2012); Beirut Art Center, Lebanon (2012); Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2011). He was Artist-in-Residence at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany (2014) and at the International Studio and Curatorial Program, New York, United States, (2010). In 2013, he was a finalist for the Hugo Boss Asia Art Award. From 2011 to 2013, he was appointed director of Open Contemporary Art Center in Taipei, Taiwan.
Zac Langdon-Pole’s projects often take their point of departure in social structures of representation and organisation in order to question how and for whom such structures are posed. His current research relates specifically to the regions of Southeast Asia and the South West Pacific, and is centred on the mythology and historical cultural exchange of the so called ‘birds of paradise’ from Papua New Guinea. His interest lies in how within procedures of cultural exchange the loss of, or transposing and translating of information can itself be a process of formation. Two ideas that are currently helping to inform his research are Walter Benjamin’s notion of ‘the wish image’ that stands at the intersection of materialism and mythology and Peter Mason’s explanation of the process of ‘exotification’, in his book Infelicities. This is the idea that the exotic is not something that exists prior to its ‘discovery’ but rather is formed in the very act of discovery itself.
For the past decade, Zarina Muhammad has embarked on a multidisciplinary research that explores magico-religious belief systems, ritual practices, and sacred sites. The various embodiments of her work, which engage broader contexts of myth-making, ritual magic, gender-based archetypes, and spirits of resistance, frame the cultural biographies of objects and the region’s provisional relationship to mysticism and the immaterial against the dynamics of global modernity. Her research project for the residency takes the trans-local figures of the penunggu (tutelary spirit) and the tuan/puan tanah (Lord of the Land) as points of departure to reconsider notions of territoriality and spectrality against the social production of rationality. During the residency, she will focus on mapping old and new ways to tell stories of unresolved memories, fragmented cosmologies, shapeshifting translations, and haunted histories.
“Have formerly colonised countries become colonising countries learning from their own past? To what extent does the colonial past still affect our actions and mind-sets?” During his residency, UuDam Tran Nguyen will work on Time Boomerang, a long-term project started in 2013 that explores the lasting influence of colonialism. As a Vietnamese artist whose life has been defined by diasporic experiences, he frames his relation to history from a personal perspective. Articulated in eight phases, this ambitious project has a global scope and moves along a dizzying timeline of 250 millions years. The first phase, titled Phase 1. The Real Distance of Things Measured: The Cast of the Hands and Its Five Fingertips, revolves around the idea of measurement and has been presented at the Bildmuseet Museum of Contemporary Art, Umeå, Sweden, (2015).
UuDam Tran Nguyen’s multidisciplinary practice spans across different mediums often combining sophisticated technological devices with materials such as clay, rubber, wood, and fabrics.
UuDam Tran Nguyen is an artist and co-founder of the experimental art magazine XEM. His practice explores the role and impact of human progress on rural and urban spaces. Between November and December 2016, Nguyen was Artist-in-Residence at NTU CCA Singapore. During his residency, Nguyen continued working on his long-term project Time Boomerang (2013– ongoing), which explores the lasting influence of colonialism. Articulated in eight phases, the project has a global scope with the artist attempting to reach and leave traces across all the continents.
– Botanical studies and urban planning
– Regional folklore, ghost myths, animistic practices
– Alternative historiographies
Inspired by the recent felling of Khaya senegalensis (a tree species native to West Africa) in one of Ho Chi Minh City’s oldest streets for urban development purposes, Lêna Bùi’s project revolves around widespread regional beliefs about hungry and unresolved spirits residing in trees. The artist plans to delve deeper into the intersections between botanical studies, colonial histories, and urban planning in Indochina, framing them against the backdrop of ancestral wisdom and haunting presences. The research will eventually lead to an articulation of unspoken stories from times gone by.
The residency of Lêna Bùi was scheduled for April – June 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak rendered international travel impossible. In order to continue to support artistic research and foster collaborations beyond borders, the NTU CCA Residencies Programme initiated Residencies Rewired, a project that trailblazes new pathways to collaboration.
Research Liaison: Elizabeth Ang
Elizabeth Ang is a freelance creative and writer who holds a BA in International History from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her research interests include Cold War historiography as well as social, cultural, and religious histories of Southeast Asia.
Jompet Kuswidananto has long been interested in matters related to the spaces in between the binary oppositions within society. In his previous series, the intersections of past and present, tradition and modernity, magical and mechanical, memory and projections of the future formed the dominant narrative in the presentation of his work. While in residence Kuswidananto will continue to research how voices are valued, performed and spectated, in Indonesia and beyond.
The time and space of the residency are being used by Ho Tzu Nyen to map out his current and forthcoming projects for the next three years as well as their conceptual and aesthetic kinships. Other than further iterations of his growing multi-part work The Critical Dictionary of Southeast Asia (2014-ongoing), the artist is currently engaged in a series of works that probe Asia’s political histories and spiritual thought systems. Specifically, he is interested in the histories of revolt and subversion sited at both the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ end of the political spectrum, paying attention to figures, moments, and movements that eschew classification under an obsolete scheme of polarized opposition. At the same time, he is also intent on speculating about the relevance these questions will carry in 50 years’ time when our existing epistemological frameworks will be drastically altered by accelerated technological transformations, geopolitical shifts, and ecological crises at a planetary level.