Curated by Rosa Barotsi and Dong Bingfeng
To what extent do colonial legacies still determine the kinds of stories we tell, as well as how we tell them? The contemporary films gathered here in the Film Marathon reflect upon and destabilize some of the implicit rules that govern our hierarchies of vision, which determine what kinds of stories, protagonists, spaces, aesthetics and audience groups belong together.
LIST OF FILMS
by Xu Ruotao
I have been documenting the artist HUA Yong for three years from time to time. The filming was always accompanied by accidents and changes. Since his histrionic personality disorder made him the best storyteller, I found a guy who, like HUA Yong, is tall and big, speaks with a Northeastern accent and paints expressionist paintings; I wanted to lock them up in a shack to perform the “Stanford Prison Experiment” and see what would happen.
by Xu Ruoato
Temporary Shelter (2008)
This 3-D video is based on the memory of artist Zhu Ming, who was sent to Qiliqu Asylum in Beijing’s Changping district in 1994.
Soon after the People’s Republic of China was founded, asylums appeared as part of the national welfare system. They provided food and housing for those who lost all possessions during the war. In 1982, the Regulations of Urban Vagrants and Beggars was issued by the State Council. Facing the large number of the floating population in the early 1990s, asylums worked as a pre-prison instituion, with the power to arrest people without local household registration or to send them back to their registered locale. In the past few years, a temporary residence permit has been treated somewhat like a passport for the dislocated population.
Sun Zhigang from Hubei province has been working as a designer in Guangzhou. As a result of not having a temporary residence permit, he was sent to an asylum in March 2003. Three days after he wa admitted to the institution, he was battered to death. On the 25th of April 2003, Nanfang Daily published an article entitled Sun Zhigang’s Death in The Asylum. The tragedy of Sun Zhigang stirred strong repercussions in China and overseas. The public demanded investigation and punishment on the case of of Sun Zhigang’s murder. As a response to public opinion, the government eventually rescinded the Regulations of Urban Vagrants and Beggars in August 2003. In this 3-D video, Xu Ruoto tries to capture the cruelty of the institutioan through the memory of the witness. Though the memory is imprecise and the virtual technology creates a game-like color scheme in the video, the experience we went through as a society was profound and heart-wrentching. The video refers to the detention centre where some Yuanmingyuan artists were sent to when the government closed down the artist community at the end of 1995. Since the detention centre was closed to human in 2003, it now provided temporary shelter to the city’s stray dogs.
About different observation methods on different functional buildings, a three-sectional structure:
1. conditions of the typical studios of some art district in Beijing.
2. Beijing Tangshan Sars hospital which has been demolished in 2001.
3.Narration of the building structure and daily life in the jail where the story teller once lived in.
Broken Line (2010)
A group of people feature in the film, including two surveyors, one policeman, a couple who are about to get married, and a photographer together with his two female assistants. Everyone of them is unhappy with the current situation of their lives, but none of them is able to instigate any desirable changes. After a full day, they meet in a sandpit in the suburb and conflict arises… The group disbands and leaves the sandpit after the conflict, leaving the policeman lying on the ground, covered in blood stains…
TRANSNATIONAL TRADESWOMEN (2006)
by Vivian Price
Inspired by organizers at the Beijing Conference on Women in 1995, former construction worker Vivian Price spent years documenting the current and historical roles of women in the construction industry in Asia. Celebrating a range of women workers – from a Japanese truck driver, to two young Pakistani women working on a construction site in Lahore, to a Taiwanese woman doing concrete work alongside her husband – this film deftly probes the connections in their experiences.
LE MOULIN (2016)
by Huang Ya-Li
It was when Taiwan was in a stable period of cultural assimilation during the past 40 years of Japanese colonial rule that the country’s first modern art group – Le Moulin Poetry Society – arose in the 1930’s, with their poetic protest against the colonial power’s cultural superiority. The name reflected the group’s orientation towards the West while especially strongly influenced by France. Regarding the Surrealists as their absolute role models, Le Moulin poets composed poetry in an uncompromising and aesthetically sophisticated style to confront the turbulent era they lived in.
Le Moulin not only tries to record a historical period that paved the way for a new freedom and self-awareness, but also to explore how Asian Modernist writers reinvent modernism through encountering foreign culture and their contemplation upon identities.
by Ayoka Chenzira
HERadventure is the brainchild of Ayoka Chenzira and Ayoka’s daughter and longtime collaborator, HaJ. HERadventure is a scifi film that combines live action with 3D environments and gameplay. At the heart of HERadventure is a coming-of-age story that features a reluctant young woman who accidentally falls to earth and ends up a superhero, as she fights the Dark Force that threatens the native population and the entire multiverse.
SPELL REEL (2017)
by Filipa César
A collective film assembled by Filipa César (Germany / Portugal / France / Guinea-Bissau)
In 2011, an archive of film and audio material re-emerged in Bissau. On the verge of complete ruination, the footage testifies to the birth of Guinean cinema as part of the decolonising vision of Amílcar Cabral, the liberation leader assassinated in 1973. In collaboration with the Guinean filmmakers Sana na N’Hada and Flora Gomes, and many allies, Filipa César imagines a journey where the fragile matter from the past operates as a visionary prism of shrapnel to look through. Digitised in Berlin, screened and live commented, the archive convokes debates, storytelling, and forecasts. From isolated villages in Guinea-Bissau to European capitals, the silent reels are now the place from where people search for antidotes for a world in crisis.
PER UN FIGLIO (2016)
by Surange Deshapriya Katugampala
(Italy/Sri Lanka )
Sunita, a middle-aged srilankan woman, lives with her teenage son on the outskirts of a northern Italian city where she works as a caregiver. The relationship between mother and son is fraught with tension and silence. Having grown up in Italy, the boy is a cultural hybrid his mother struggles to understand, as she fights to live in a country to which she does not want to belong.
OUT OF MY HAND (2015)
by Takeshi Fukunaga
Working as a tree tapper on a rubber plantation in Liberia, Cisco struggles to make a decent life for himself and his family. Despite his and his fellow workers’ attempt at unionizing, the rubber corporation maintains a stranglehold over their lives. But when a well-timed visit from an American cousin opens Cisco’s eyes to a better future abroad, he risks everything for a journey to New York City. Here, he finds himself in Staten Island’s small, close-knit Liberian community, where fellow ex-pats help him line up work as a taxi driver.
BALIKBAYAN #1 MEMORIES OF OVERDEVELOPMENT REDUX No.?
by Kidlat Tahimik
(since 1979, the Philippines)
Language is the key to the empire. Enrique is the slave of Ferdinand Magellan, who circumnavigated the globe. Aside from bathing Magellan every evening, Enrique also has to translate Filipino languages into Portuguese and Spanish. The film opens with a cardboard box containing film rolls being dug up from the ground. Shot in 1980 and now showing their age, the images tell the story of the circumnavigation. Magellan died shortly before the journey was completed, but had authorized that Enrique, now by default the first true circum navigator, was to become a free man. Enrique carved his memories of the journey into wood, with the sculptures adorning his garden. Balikbayan #1 weaves together the official story with that of Enrique, as well as with the director’s cut of what Tahimik started filming 35 years ago in order to find out the truth and continued in a village in the province of Ifugao in 2013. The actors are no longer the same, and Tahimik, who himself played Enrique in 1980, has grown older, just as children have been born. Balikbayan #1 is a home movie, a flamboyant epic, a study of colonialism, a historical corrective and an homage to what Tahimik calls ‘Indio Genius’.
THURSDAY, December 6th
13:50-14:50 TRANS. TRADES
15:00-16:40 SPELL REEL
16:50-18:05 PER UN FIGLIO
18:15-21:00 LE MOULIN
FRIDAY, December 7th
10:30-12:00 OUT OF MY HAND
12:15-13:30 PER UN FIGLIO
13:45-14:45 TRANS TRADES
15:30-17:10 SPELL REEL
17:10-17:40 Q&A with Filipa César
SATURDAY, December 8th
10:30-13:15 LE MOULIN
13:15 – 14:15 “SURREALISMS FROM THE PERIPHERY, PERIPHERIES OF SURREALISM”
Huang Ya-li in conversation with Tom Holert
17:00-17:30 “POLITICS OR ART? CURRENT PERSPECTIVES ON CHINESE INDEPENDENT ART”
Xu Ruotao in conversation with Dong Bingfeng
EXHIBITIONS: Installing the minor cosmos
DOODLES ON OTHER POLEIS (Installation: Drawings, Stones, Video)
[Lower Foyer CORRIDOR]
by Sikho Siyotula
Sikho Siyotula’s work explores relationship and order, specifically a cosmos of Black poles of precolonial power. It is a study that looks at the archaeology of Southern African Iron Age settlements (A.D. 900 – 1800) where the patterns that emerge invite the viewer to observe their spaces and lines, visually and mentally. The accompanying sketches and rock engravings collected over the years represent a usable African history. In relation to the larger project of Minor Cosmopolitanisms, they are a contemplation of multiple orders that allude to a possible comparison of European town and city planning of the same time. These minor / black / other / individual poleis stand in relation to a multitude or a cosmos of other poleis; such a tool in nationalist rhetoric can be used to destabilize colonial powers and their hold on the writing and framing of Southern African history. Visualization of these settlements needs to be critically relooked at within appropriate visual cultural methodologies. Methodologies that would allow for a critical engagement with the cultural politics of representation, the material culture of images, image processing and image visualization, looking and seeing. This visual space is connected to a political space of possibilities.
MIKROKOSMOS (Installation: Video Projection)
by Marina Camargo
Mikrokosmos is a video installation where the relationship between time and space is expanded and constrained: containing the global on the local scale of a city while being expanded toward the infinite scale of the universe, in two-dimensional representations of time and space.
Space determines the context where things take place, influencing the facts. At the same time, the facts can alter the space where they happen, in a connection of mutual affection. Likewise, there is always a specific moment when things occur: time is a constant vector in every action, deed or historical fact.
How could time and space be visualized?
The place is Berlin, shown as a detailed city map. Time is mapped through the position of the stars of 18 changing starry sky maps, from the beginning of the 21st century until now.
TRANSLATION IS BETTER (Video Essays)
[Lecture Hall Corridor]
by Mario Bellatin
*REEL (Installation: Sound, Text/Image)
[Interpreting Booths of Conference Room 1]
by Anaïs Héraud-Louisadat
At the beginning of the 20th century, linguistic researcher Wilhelm Doegen set out to compile a collection of voice testimonies with the aim of constituting a Weltarchiv. Doegen and others benefited from the entertainment industry displaying women and men from alleged ‘exotic’ cultures in the metropolis as part of Völkerschauen and colonial exhibitions. Almost exactly at the same time, members of the futurist movement started to investigate the field of sound and its classification glorifying what they felt was the highest symbol of modernity: the metropolis and the machine.
On one side there is Russolo’s futurist Intonarumori, on the other side the gramophone’s horn capturing the voice of a young woman named Venkatamma. On one side there is Marinetti’s warlike poetry that does not leave any space for ambiguity and silence, on the other side Venkatamma’s song about love and pain, interrupted by her laughter.
The artistic intervention focuses on the violence of the dispositive of the gramophone recording in a visual and sonorous way. The artist works visually and with sound fragments, drawing a connection between the use of the phonograph that rendered evolution audible (Ames, 2003) and works by Marinetti who designated himself a social Darwinist.
*BLACK A(N)THENA (Installation: Video, Sound, Textile)
by Nathalie Anguezomo Mba Bikoro
The installation creates an environment reflecting on the architecture of transmission through sound, archival materials and architectural debris which interrogates the perpetrators’ vocal debris within phonographic records and those of technologies of queering and modes of visibility. It considers the architecture of ruination in the lesser known liberation struggle movement in Germany’s cultural industry and considers lost colonial records of the ‘other’ and its perpetrators as ghost, ruins, witchcraft and characters inhabiting different forms. The women in shadow rehearse the mistakes and edits that were meant to leave no trace of them and re-appear as ecologies of darkness. Traces left in nature, architecture and unpublished archives retell the stories of the voices that often technologies could make disappear. The phonograph record’s operation becomes overturned by laughter or mistake. Recorder and speaker switch places and as a female speaker who is physically censored to remain in an archive of cultural production, she is mischieving the ‘straight’ story she is ordered to perform. Both refusing to be the woman of that narrative and refusing the appropriation of the tale’s subversion/degradation over her body.
*curated by Irene Hilden