Part One / Screening: On floating and eating

Part One
Screening: On floating and eating

Tulapop Saenjaroen, Notes from the Periphery (still), 2022.

Part One
Screening: On floating and eating

With Kelley Dong, Tulapop Saenjaroen, Anocha Suwichakornpong, and Zheng Yuan

Admission starts at $5

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Date
July 1, 2022, 7pm
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172 Classon Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205
USA

In this first part of Tulapop Saenjaroen: A (Digressive) Focus Program, water entities coincidentally emerged as a motif against the hardness of parsing the formative cruelty of the work-non-work confusion. Whether it is in a public pool in Saenjaroen’s Tales of Swimming Pool, some Mediterranean beach in William’s Roman Letters, a textbook description of the life cycle of a barnacle in Saenjaroen’s Notes from the Periphery, meandering around an island state in Suwichakornpong and Saenjaroen’s Nightfall, baby blue textures in Dong’s Pears, or the temperamental Yellow River in Zheng’s After The Flood, it sure is nice not to think of liquidity as capital. 

reading by Evan Calder Williams will take place in the library at the Screening Room immediately following the screening, as the second part of the program.

Films

Kelley Dong, Pears (2020, 1 second)
Pears is a one-second film with serene textures and hues parsed through a handful of edits. In Canada, many organizations adhere to a fee schedule established by the Independent Media Arts Alliance. Apart from films that are provided by an artists’ distributor, this program adheres to that fee schedule. The fees increase based on categories of length, depending on whether the works are less than 5 minutes, between 5-15 minutes, 15-30 minutes, or 30-60 minutes, or over 60 minutes. When we think about how to compensate moving-image works, the time-based fee structure is a useful signpost in standardizing the compensation of artists. However, while Pears has a duration of one second, it took Dong over a year to edit. I wanted to include Pears because it complicates how we presume value when it comes to time as it is expressed in the commodity of time-based mediums. Even though it is one-second, do we see it as a film that quantitatively performs or consumes less labor than a longer film? 

Tulapop Saenjaroen and Anocha Suwichakornpong, Nightfall (2008, 15 minutes)
The context of the residency is a work-non-work conundrum. Some people pay for them, some people get paid to be there. Sometimes, they are sites for retrieving time and making connections, albeit that time is often betrothed to some kind of production. Nightfall is a fictionalized account of the time co-director Anocha Suwichakornpong spent during a residency researching Thai politics in Singapore. The protagonist traverses underground tunnels and performs a solo karaoke sesh at the The Golden Mile Complex, an iconic Brutalist mix-use complex that houses a concentration of Thai communities and businesses. We periodically hear a woman’s voice reciting an English transcription of speeches by Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Thai Prime Minister Kittikachorn, praising each other’s economies at a state dinner  ten months before the 14 October 1973 popular uprising that overthrew Kittikachorn’s military and anti-communist dictatorship. This coup planted the seeds of the 1976 Thammasat University massacre—the primary historical subject of Suwichakornpong’s 2016 feature film By the Time It Gets Dark

Tulapop Saenjaoren, Tales of Swimming Pool (2008, 14 minutes)
A public pool is often cast as part of the iconography of socialized infrastructure, while a very densely attended pool signifies the en-masse leisure time of a working-class society. This early student work tells three stories, “A Little Boy”, “A Storyteller”, and “An Old Man Who Lost His Memories''. In the middle story, this analogy is made in the context of a novelist’s work, “[The] human body is an empty container, just like a swimming pool without water. The meaning of life is simply the water in the pool.” Accordingly, watching the various visitors chilling, practicing, and exercising in the pool water, is to think of them as immersed in a kind of meaning of life which is to be found in not working, “A swimming pool can only be a swimming pool when there is water in it.” 

Tulapop Saenjaroen, Notes from the Periphery (2021, 14 minutes)
Notes from the Periphery is mainly shot in the peripheral areas of the ever-expanding Laem Chabang port in Chon Buri, Thailand. Employing didactic devices such as tracing the literal outlines of shipping containers occupying the space in the landscape, and a somewhat menacing editing style further disturbed by a whimsical sound design, the segments of Notes are formally exploratory while trying to reconnect fragments and types of “ships” exploded by policing civil obedience, environmental impact, and the desire to be a globalized citizen as a form of escapism from that fragmentation. 

Zheng Yuan, After the Flood (2021, 54 minutes
It may seem like a bit of an odd choice to include a feature in the context of a focus program on the work of another artist, but I hope you’ll trust that Zheng’s fictionalized portrayal of filmmakers making a film of workers not working delivers an understated complement to Tales of Swimming Pool and Nightfall, while supplying a playful counterimage to the critical formalism of Pears and Notes from the Periphery. After the Flood employs a documentary style as if to witness the social dynamics of people who work and live along the Yellow River, and who are adjusting following a recent flood. The script indicates Zheng’s intimacy with the local mundane conversations in the region, and how national industrial projects and local economies antagonize people, as we see them now: listening to other people’s opinions about their divorce, trying to sustain a relationship with a pack of stray dogs, and passively coping with the infrastructural shortsightedness of rapid industrialization. 

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

Category
Film, Labor & Work, Capitalism
Subject
Video Art, Experimental Film, Water & The Sea, Industrialization, Documentary
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Tulapop Saenjaroen: A (Digressive) Focus Program

Kelley Dong is a Toronto-based writer, producer, and director.

Tulapop Saenjaroen (b.1986, Thailand) is an artist and filmmaker whose practice encompasses performance, video, and film. His recent works interrogate the correlations between image production and the production of subjectivity, as well as the paradoxes intertwining control and freedom in late capitalism. In combining narrative and the essay film genre, he investigates subjects such as tourism, self-care, mental illness, and free labor through re-making and re-interpreting the produced images and their networks. Saenjaroen received an MFA in Fine Art Media from The Slade School of Fine Art and an MA in Aesthetics and Politics from CalArts. He currently lives and works in Bangkok.

Anocha Suwichakornpong is a filmmaker and producer. Her work is informed by the socio-political history of Thailand.

Zheng Yuan lives in Beijing. He makes film and installation, and his work often operates at the intersection of fiction, documentary, and essay. His works showed in exhibitions and film festivals internationally, including at MAXXI Museum, Tai Kwun, UCCA, Oberhausen, Visions du Réel, etc.

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