Here is where we are: Week #5

Here is where we are: Week #5

Artist Cinemas

Stephanie Comilang, Lumapit Sa Akin, Paraiso (clip), 2016.

November 23, 2020
Here is where we are: Week #5
Stephanie Comilang, Lumapit Sa Akin, Paraiso
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Join us on e-flux Video & Film for an online screening of Stephanie Comilang​'s Lumapit Sa Akin, Paraiso (2016), the fifth installment of Here is where we are, on view from Monday, November 23 through Sunday, November 29, 2020, and featuring an interview with the filmmaker by Menna Agha.

Here is where we are is a six-part program of films, video works, interviews, and texts put together by Laure Prouvost. It is the fourth program in Artist Cinemas, a long-term, online series of film programs curated by artists for e-flux Video & Film

Artist Cinemas presents Here is where we are  
Week #5: Monday, November 23—Sunday, November 29, 2020 
Stephanie Comilang, Lumapit Sa Akin, Paraiso, 2016
25:46 minutes

Lumapit Sa Akin, Paraiso (Come to Me Paradise) is a science fiction documentary set against the backdrop of Hong Kong, where Filipina migrant workers occupy Central on Sundays. The film is narrated from the perspective of Paraiso, a ghost played by a drone who speaks of the isolation of being uprooted and thrown into a new place. Paraiso’s awaits her reprieve every Sunday, when she is finally able to interact with the women and feel her purpose—which is to transmit their vlogs, photos, and messages back home. The rest of the week, Paraiso is forced back into isolation and is left in an existential rut.

On Sundays, Central becomes a pivotal place for Paraiso and the three protagonists as thousands congregate to create a space of female care-giving, away from their employers' homes where they live and work full-time. From early morning to night, the women occupy these spaces—normally used for finance and banking—and transform them into spaces where they relax over food, drinks, manicures, prayer, and dance. Only when the women gather en masse is the signal strong enough for them to summon Paraiso for upload.

Lumapit Sa Akin, Paraiso uses Hong Kong’s dystopian maze as structures that the Filipina migrants re-imagine, to explore the beauty of care-giving but also how technology is used as a pivotal way for the women to connect—to each other as well as to loved ones. Raising questions around modern isolation, economic migration, and the role of public space in both urban and digital forms, the film transcends its various component parts to offer a startling commentary on the presen, from the point of view of the future.

Excerpt from the conversation between Stephanie Comilang​ and Menna Agha:

Menna Agha (MA): 
For me, the city of Hong Kong was the villain of this film; perhaps it’s me projecting my feelings about big apathetic cities—their finance towers, and their ability to perpetuate a caste system that discounts certain humanity into a state of serfdom. But instead of just projecting my strong feelings, I should ask you: What is the city’s role in ​Lumapit Sa Akin, Paraiso

Stephanie Comilang​ (SC):
The spatial geography of Hong Kong is unlike any other place I’ve been to. Hong Kong Island is famously known for its lack of space due to much of it being built on hilly mountainous terrain, therefore making enough space only for vertical living. The neck cranes, and the eyes are constantly moving upwards. This speaks directly to the notion of being upwardly mobile. The higher you are in Hong Kong, the more maneuverability you have. The areas of Central and Mid-Levels are the most sought-after real estate and where most of the wealthy live. But this is also where 300,000 Indonesian and Filipina domestic workers take up space on Sundays. The city undergoes a makeover and it’s beautiful. 

MA: 
The digital space is pronounced in ​Lumapit Sa Akin, Paraiso. We learn about its importance early on in the film, with the scene of the smartphone in the dustpan, transforming the dustpan into a selfie-stick. The film offers a complex relationship between the digital space, home, and the ephemeral spaces carved out in the city by the migrant workers during the weekend. How did you choose this specific curation, especially that both the digital and the ephemeral are often unseen in material landscapes? 

SC: 
If you walk through Central Hong Kong on Sundays, you will see all the women holding their phones in front of their faces video chatting with their families back home. It’s a lifeline that we can all relate to, and that has become even more pronounced during quarantine. The situation for the women is intensified tenfold because they are only allowed to go home once every two years. Imagine? Your children are toddlers and then they’re teens; meanwhile you’re taking care of someone else’s baby as a surrogate everyday. The connection the phone provides becomes extremely important. That’s why the digital plays such an important role in the film—the technology almost becomes sacred, from the drone-spirit to the phones. 

Watch the video and read the full conversation here.

About the program  
Here is where we are highlights a variety of ways of representing the real across the realms of the living. How do we—humans. animals, plants—leave a mark? The contributors in this selection move across a spectrum of criticality and lightness, each finding a unique way of expressing their inner drive. We are together in this world and travelling along the road as it curves. We traverse geographic and geological borders as well as a (mountain) range of styles, sensations, and cultures. Hopefully you are here where we are!

Here is where we are is a program convened by Laure Prouvost as part of the series Artist Cinemas. It will run for six weeks from October 24 through December 7, 2020, screening a new film each week accompanied by a text or interview with the filmmaker(s) by Prouvost and invited guests.

About Artist Cinemas  
Artist Cinemas is a new e-flux platform focusing on exploring the moving image as understood by people who make film. It is informed by the vulnerability and enchantment of the artistic process—producing non-linear forms of knowledge and expertise that exist outside of academic or institutional frameworks. It will also acknowledge the circles of friendship and mutual inspiration that bind the artistic community. Over time this platform will trace new contours and produce different understandings of the moving image.

For more information, contact program@e-flux.com.

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