My special thanks go to the CIMAM Travel Grants, supported by Fubon Art Foundation, as this intensive three-day conference broadened my horizon. The most impressive moment was to visit the show “Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History” in NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore. Although this was not my first time to visit CCA, after I listening the talk by the director of CCA Ute Meta Bauer on the first day, this visit turned out to be a remarkable experience.
Through the works of Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand), Ho Tzu Nyen (Singapore), Nguyen Trinh Thi (Vietnam), and Park Chan-Kyong (South Korea), the multi-layered hidden histories of East Asia were unfolded. The curators emphasized on the uncanny history in the region of Asia and raised a series of crucial questions about power and authority, construction of narratives, repression of identities, and collective trauma. Ho Tzu Nyen’s “Nameless” (2015) as a good example, employing found footage, looked at the contested history of communism in Malaya and the story of the infamous triple agent Lai Teck.
This exhibition could possibly respond to the “2014 Taiwan International Video Art Exhibition –The Return of Ghosts”. Both shows are not about the Western idea of "Animism", which has been a popular topic to criticize the modernity in the Western art circle. These two shows aim to retrace back to the particular local culture in Asia. “The Return of Ghosts” deliberates the comparable topic in the Taiwanese discourse, discussing spiritual world is not some shrouded, veiled history enigma, but a living cultural space filled with common, bodily experience. This exhibition also tends to see spiritual entities as a kind of narrative agent toward historical document as well as political reality.
“Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History” reminds me the current lecture series I organized “Curating History/ Histories of Curating in Asia”, focusing on perspectives and methods of contemporary curatorial practice to investigate the dynamic relationship between curating and histories within the limitations of archives and dramatic changes in Asian region. This show is an excellent case to explore the issue of “curating history”, through the curatorial perspective to revisit the histories. Hope we can have Ute to share with us in Taipei next May as the part-2 of this series talk.
2014 Taiwan International Video Art Exhibition – The Return of Ghosts: http://www.twvideoart.org/tiva_14/
Curating History/Histories of Curating in Asia lecture series: