Animistic Medium: Contemporary Southeast Asian Artists Moving Image Practices
A film screening programme and talk
You are welcome to join a screening programme of short moving image works made by Southeast Asian contemporary artists with an introduction by CSEAS Visiting Scholar Dr May Adadol Ingawanij (Professor of Cinematic Arts, University of Westminster). The screening programme is based on Dr Ingawanij’s research project, Animistic Medium, which explores the aesthetics and circulation of film and media arts practices by Southeast Asian artists, and conceptualises the relationship between contemporary artistic practice, the political, the regional, and agency.
Since the 1990s the artworks, films and artistic practices of Southeast Asian artists have been gaining an unprecedented degree of visibility across global contemporary art and film exhibition circuits. Museums, galleries, film festivals and film cultural institutions in Japan have been playing an influential part in stimulating this global circulation and institutionalising the canon and discourse of Southeast Asian contemporary art. A case in point is the major exhibition Sunshower: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia 1980s to Now, commemorating the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN. The prevalence of moving image works in this exhibition, and its canonisation of artists through curatorial rhetorics of political and social engagement, can be taken as emblematic of the constitution of the category of Southeast Asian contemporary art through the exhibition and discursive activities of powerful arts institutions. As this domain of artistic practice and exhibition network becomes more firmly established, catalysing a lively research field, some key research questions and agendas are being developed. Among the primary tasks for researchers at this point are to critically analyse and historicise the terms of constitution, canonisation and institutionalisation of Southeast Asian contemporary art; and to conceptualise the precise terms of entanglement between artistic practice and the political with sufficient historical and contextual attentiveness.
The following short works will be screened
Tanatchai Bandasak (Recording of a Screening for a Spirit, 2015, 3 minutes, Thailand)
Riar Rizaldi (Kasiterit, 2019, 18 minutes, Indonesia)
Tuan Andrew Nguyen (The Boat People, 2020, 20 minutes, Vietnam)
Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Fireworks (Archives), 2014, 6 minutes, Thailand).
Dr Ingawanij will introduce each artistic work while weaving in stories, insights and questions drawn from her research process. Her starting point is to observe a pattern whereby Southeast Asian contemporary artists are making moving image works that evoke animistic rituals, and that figure animistic beings, while engaging with historical and political legacies. A striking tendency among Southeast Asian artists moving image works is that their formal, sensorial, relational and enunciative features resonate with practices of communication, emplacement, and temporal orientation characteristic of what anthropologist Kaj Århem has recently theorised as Southeast Asian animism. How to make sense of this?
May Adadol Ingawanij is Professor of Cinematic Arts at University of Westminster, UK. As a writer, theorist and curator she specialises in Southeast Asian artists moving image practices, contemporary art, and cinema. Her research and pedagogy intersect contemporary artistic and curatorial practice, film studies, art history, and area studies. Key themes include: de-centred histories and genealogies of cinematic arts in Southeast Asia; legacies of regional artistic and political vanguardism; forms of potentiality and future-making in contemporary artistic and curatorial practices; aesthetics and circulation of artists’ moving image, art and independent films in and related to Southeast Asia.