As curator, I wanted to bring together a programme that would invite audiences to walk through the mystical aspects of SE Asia; through its collective memories and histories, to a world where there is no identifying line between reality and belief.
Ritual begins with Vietnamese artist Pham Ngoc Lân’s The Story of Ones. This documentary-like film combines the sound of local radio and scenes from everyday life. Jumping through and between radio stations, content varies between propaganda to gossip; it draws a contrast, where people appear to be unaware that they are part of the story themselves.
This is followed by Taiki Sakpisit’s in depth study of life from the perspective of a Bangkokian in A Ripe Volcano, which explores the psychic scars left on the city. These two films leave us questioning what is exposed and what is still hidden in the lives of SE Asian people.
In Paradise under Construction Krisna Murti demonstrates the beauty of harmony in traditional dance and Indonesia’s natural environment. Murti is a pioneering artist in the use of moving image as a media of creation in the region; in his work he explores the possibility of using both natural and man-made elements from Indonesia. His work has also become a way of opening a world of fantasy to us.
Au Sow Yee’s Sow Kancil, Hang Tuah, Raja Bersiong, Bomoh, the Missing Jet and Others is the second instalment in her project, The Mengkerang Project. The story is based on an imaginary location called Mengkerang. Being in a multi-racial nation, Au witnessed the unequal situation of being an ‘outsider’ because of racial background, in Malay or Malaysia. She then collected a series of folktales from different ethnicities living in Malaysia, to create a mythical, coherent future for the country and its population.
In contrast, Shireen Seno’s 16mm film, Shotgun Tuding takes us back in time to late 1940s Philippines. The film is a tribute to pancit Western films (Filipino Spaghetti Western). As a rising star working in experimental film, her maturing skills are recognisable, both in the work’s direction, and her ability to merge Filipino humour with a comical Western-style narrative.
Ritual is currently touring in the UK – the first touring artists’ film and video programme from SE Asia.
Moritz Cheung is assistant curator at Videoclub, a Brighton based platform for artists’ film and video.