Refracted Journeys



Spanning several decades of Asia’s post-Cold War transformations, the four works in this program share a common impetus. Each of them addresses the return of the storm of progress in the afterlife of colonization. Using different forms—found footage (Hernando, Guieb and Albano), essay films (Nguyen, Ermitaño), and audio-visual assemblage (Badhwar)—the artists in the program cast a close look at the fracturing of the land and the violence wrought on bodies and psyche by capital and post-colonial states.
With humor and with care, and always with precise intelligence, they chart their open-ended, at times wayward journeys in the wake of destruction. These works, from the Philippines, Vietnam and India, capture fleeting moments of human connection and portray the fragility of collective solidarity with absurdist panache and affective intensity. Unsentimentally glancing back at the promises of struggles past, they record, rearrange, repeat and transmit images and sounds. They are, in other words, moving image works as time machine, undoing the hollow promise of the forward march of progress and preserving recalcitrant messages from the time before for the hope of future recognition. Curated for Experimenta Cinema in Asia Network (ECAN) by Shai Heredia, May Adadol Ingawanij and Yuki Aditya.

Cesar Hernando - Eli Guieb - Jimbo Albano

6’ 33’’ | 16 mm | Color | Stereo

1989

Screening format: High-definition digital video

Philippines

Óxido

One of the most prominent and well-crafted films that emerged from the Christoph Janetzko experimental film workshops in Southeast Asia in the 1980s and 1990s, Kalawang is a satirical piece that uses found footage of war, sex, and pop culture to unpick the cultural and libidinal complex of colonization. Recently featured as part of Kalampag Tracking Agency, the curatorial initiative navigating the long history of Filipino experimental moving image practices.

Trinh Thi Nguyen

35’ | HD | Color | Stereo

2015

Screening format: High-definition digital video

Viet Nam

Letters from Panduranga

The initial idea for the film is the Vietnamese government’s plan to build nuclear power plants in an ancient land once known as Panduranga. Yet the longer the artist spends time in the land that bears traces of its old matriarchal culture the more she feels her intended subject matter slipping from her grasp. A poetic essay film whose intimate portrayal of faces and landscape, and whose incisive self-questioning, subtly undermine the figure of the heroic artist while asking how art can continue to be socially engaged.

Tad Ermitaño

9’ 33’’ | 16 mm | Color | Stereo

1994

Screening format: High-definition digital video

Philippines

The Retrochronological Transfer of Information

Less a documentary than a marvel, as an irreverent parody of science fiction films. A humorous meditation on time, politics, and point of view in cinema. Hoping to send a message back in time by equipping the camera to shoot through Rizal’s portrait on Philippine money, Ermitaño plays with the boundaries of different points of view: Rizal’s, that of Philippine politics, the camera’s, the filmmaker’s, and ours as well as with the temporal relations between them. Recently featured as part of Kalampag Tracking Agency, the curatorial initiative navigating the long history of Filipino experimental moving image practices.

Kush Badhwar

36’ | HD | Color | Stereo

2013

Screening format: High-definition digital video

India

Blood Earth

Kucheipadar village in Odisha is a bauxite-rich block that since India’s economic liberalization has been the subject of violent conflict between Adivasis and a mining venture. The singing of songs has come to articulate creative forms and political structures that steered the Kashipur resistance movement from subalternity, through solidarity and into dissolution. Blood Earth interweaves the efforts to record song, farming, village life and a political meeting to improvise a junction between voice, music, silence, sound and noise.

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