August 2, 2017 - NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore - Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History
August 2, 2017

NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore

Ho Tzu Nyen, The Name (still), 2015. Single-channel HD projection, surround sound, 16:51 minutes, with 16 books by the author Gene Z. Hanrahan. Courtesy the artist.

Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History
Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Ho Tzu Nyen, Nguyen Trinh Thi, Park Chan-kyong
September 1–November 19, 2017

NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore
Gillman Barracks
43 Malan Road
Singapore 109443
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 12–7pm,
Friday 12–9pm

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Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History features video installations and films by Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand), Ho Tzu Nyen (Singapore), Nguyen Trinh Thi (Vietnam), and Park Chan-kyong (South Korea). The artists’ research into their own cultural and historical backgrounds gain shape through allegories that re-evaluate the social and political reforms in Post-War and Cold-War Asia. The cinematic works in the exhibition combine fact and fiction. They not only allude to rarely discussed subject-matters but also raise crucial questions about power and authority, construction of narratives, repression of identities, and collective trauma.

Embedded in the vernacular, ghosts, myths, and rituals present systems of knowledge that enable the expression of unknown worlds. Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History brings to light clouded histories not officially recounted but those that remain a lingering presence in collective memories through local mythologies, ghostly figures, and traditions. The works create their own language and systems of reference, reflecting current efforts of exposing mainstream historical accounts and contemporary situations while subversively rewriting these narratives. 

In the immersive installation Fireworks (Archives) (2014), Apichatpong Weerasethakul takes the viewers on a dreamlike nocturnal stroll through Sala Keoku, a Buddhist-Hindu temple inhabited by monumental sculptures of mythical creatures. For the artist, these wayward sculptures epitomise the people's spirit of revolt against the oppressive political regimes.

Ho Tzu Nyen's two works look at the contested history of communism in Malaya. Editing and re-colouring segments from different films, The Nameless (2015) pieces together the story of the infamous triple agent Lai Teck. Also employing found footage, The Name (2015) takes excerpts of Euro-American films that represent the Western male author and is accompanied by texts from the enigmatic writer Gene Z. Hanrahan who published The Communist Struggle in Malaya in 1954.

In her film essay Letters from Panduranga (2015), Nguyen Trinh Thi similarly uncovers colonial histories. The film portrays everyday life of the Cham community, an indigenous Hindu tribe dating back nearly 2,000 years. Residing in Ninh Thuan province, formerly known as Panduranga, the Cham’s spiritual centre is soon to be destroyed for the country’s first nuclear plants. Nguyen’s documentary Love Man Love Woman (2007) follows the Dao Mau (Mother Goddess Worship) community, an ancient religion that offers a haven for gay Vietnamese men, enabling them to express their sexuality openly.

Citizen’s Forest (2016), the black-and-white three-channel installation by Park Chan-kyong brings together in the forest victims of modern Korean tragedies, including the 1980 Gwangju Uprising and the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster, and enacts traditional shamanistic rituals as a means to address and heal historical trauma.

In parallel, The Lab, NTU CCA Singapore's platform for research in-progress, will be featuring projects by siren eun young jung (South Korea) and Choy Ka Fai (Singapore/Germany), both recent NTU CCA Singapore artists-in-residence. While jung focuses on Yeoseong Gukgeuk, a vanishing form of traditional Korean theatre featuring only female performers, Choy brings up his long-time research into Butoh dance, also called "dance of darkness," and looks at its evolution and influence through one of the Butoh founders, Tatsumi Hijikata.

Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History will be accompanied by a public programme and a symposium (October 28, 2017) with the exhibiting artists and scholars from various disciplines including Hyunjin Kim, curator and writer; Professor Kenneth Dean, Head, Department of Chinese Studies, National University of Singapore; Dr Roger Nelson, Postdoctoral Fellow at Nanyang Technological University, School of Art, Design and Media / NTU CCA Singapore; and Dr June Yap, independent curator.

Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History is curated by Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director, NTU CCA Singapore, and Professor, School of Art, Design and Media, NTU, and Khim Ong, Deputy Director, Curatorial Programmes and Senior Curator.

NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore is a national research centre of Nanyang Technological University and is supported by a grant from the Economic Development Board, Singapore.

NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore
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