In this period of solidarity, the Centre brings forth a collection of archival videos, featuring lectures, conversations, and discussions that relate to themes of decolonisation, legacies of colonialism, and post-war independence movements explored in the exhibition Non-Aligned.
#1: Mise-en-Scéne and Misalignments: Resetting the Postcolonial Stage
While the Cold War raged on in the years following 1945, in the spaces between East and West, smaller theatres of war were emerging throughout the postcolonial world. This collection highlights moments of mise-en-scène that reset a global stage framed by colonial axes of power, featuring thinkers and artists such as Isaac Julien, Mark Nash, Stefano Harney, Škart, and Bojana Piškur.
Paradise Lost: Lecture: Postcolonial critique today – Stefano Harney
7 March 2014
Referencing the works of Zarina Bhimji and Trinh T. Minh-ha in the exhibitionParadise Lost, Dr Stefano Harney investigates the renewed power of postcolonial critique today. By returning to the great thinkers of the “colonial situation” and its aftermath, Harney re-evaluates the proposition that globalisation has erased “old ideas of the lines between coloniser and colonised.”
Theatrical Fields: Special Brunch and Screening Session with Isaac Julien and Mark Nash
26 October 2014
Dr Mark Nash and Isaac Julien discuss theatricality as criticality through Vagabondia (2000), Julien’s seven-minute film for Theatrical Fields, in which the figure of the vagabond is used to explore how the Sir John Soane’s Museum collection has benefitted from colonisation. Julien’s Playtime (2014), a part-documentary part-fiction exploration of global capital, plays following their conversation.
Residencies Insights: Non-Aligned Movement: New Spaces of Liberty, New Lines of Alliance, New Modes of Creativity
22 November 2017
Belgrade-based collective Škart and Bojana Piškur situate the Non-Aligned Movement’s ideas, ideals, and principles in the present and apply them to exhibition-making and cultural exchange. Looking beyond the complex history of the Non-Aligned Movement, they map out possible prototypes for institutions, networks, and politics within art and culture today.
#2: Phantasms and Futurities: Decolonial Propositions
From a global stage reset in Mise-en-Scéne and Misalignments, this collection rescripts the linear trajectories of colonial pasts and postcolonial presents, towards the realisation of decolonised futures. Prof Timothy Murray noted in his keynote lecture that “the theatrical script always opens to the arrival of the future; they are contingent and dependent upon futurity”. Artists, performers, and curators, such as Zarina Muhammad and Brigitte van der Sande enact and identify heterotopias — spatial alterities or counter-sites wherein alternative realities are constructed — that rewrite these politicised narratives through explorations of mythmaking and science fiction.
Theatrical Fields: Symposium: Screening Theatrical Phantasms: Toward an Uncertain Futurity
Keynote Lecture by Prof Timothy Murray
23 August 2014
This talk addresses the fascination of artworks in our previous exhibition Theatrical Fields in 2014, which introduces theatricality as a critical strategy in performance, film and video. In providing a brief theoretical overview of “the politics of theatricality,” Murray will reflect on the exhibition’s screenic re-possession of cinematic characters, buried stories, and influential texts in ways that challenge the historical groundings of theatricality in the ethnocentric certainty of culture and law.
Lecture Performance: Flowers from our Bloodlines by Zarina Muhammad, artist; Stefania Rossett, choreographer; Vivian Wang pianist; Eric Lee, artist; and Tini Aliman, sound artist
22 September 2017
Drawing from concepts of the demonised and desired body, gender-based archetypes, and mythmaking, this lecture performance invokes family histories and revokes the lineages of colonisation in Southeast Asia. Intergenerational and cross-cultural exchanges, facilitated by storytelling, rituals, gestures, and embodied movement, are explored through the rites of the Wolf Spider and the Harimau Jadian (Were-Tiger), and their multiple translations and adaptations.
Residencies Insights: Speculations on other futures by Brigitte van der Sande, former Curator-in-Residence
6 December 2018
Brigitte van der Sande explores how science fiction is used to envision alternative futures and critique existing power structures while shunning censorship, within countries where continuous change is the status quo because of war or political instability. Her long-term project Other Futures, “a multidisciplinary online and offline platform for thinkers and builders of other futures”, features non-Western science fiction makers and thinkers.
#3: Tidalectic Topographies, Counter Cartographies
Extending the exploration of counter-sites from Phantasms and Futurities, this collection carries postcolonial inquiry from landlocked cartographies to liquid liminalities. Reflecting on shifting geopolitical, sociocultural, ethnoreligious, and environmental rhythms that ripple throughout the global hydrosphere, artists, curators, and scholars including Ade Darmawan, Shubigi Rao, Melati Suryodarmo, Prof Philippe Pirotte, Tita Salina, Irwan Ahmett, Dr Cresantia Frances Koya Vaka’uta, and Dr Cynthia Chou introduce a tidalectic worldview – in the tradition of Barbadian poet and historian Kamau Brathwaite – as a way of troubling territorial borders that became embedded during the post-Cold War wave of nationalist independence movements.
In Conversation Part I: Arus Balik with artists Ade Darmawan, Shubigi Rao, and Melati Suryodarmo, Moderated by curator Philippe Pirotte
23 March 2019
This panel discussion focuses on the Indonesian epic Arus Balik (1995) – loosely translated to mean “turn of the tide” – by revolutionary writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer, which served as the starting point for the eponymous exhibition Arus Balik – from below the wind to above the wind and back again (2019). Three of the participating artists – Ade Darmawan, Shubigi Rao, and Melati Suryodarmo – join exhibition curator Philippe Pirotte in a discussion on Pramoedya’s body of work, its influence and legacy, as well as notions of censorship and the forbidden book.
Performance: A Tumbling Inch by Former Artists-in-Residence Irwan Ahmett and Tita Salina
11 June 2019
A Tumbling Inch is a performative action by Jakarta-based artists Irwan Ahmett and Tita Salina, which crystallised in the hydrospheric spatiality between Batam, the Indonesian island closest to Singapore, and the undulating maritime borders between the two countries. The work revolves around a nostalgic longing for the Lion City. Following the free movement of sea waves across the Straits of Malacca, the performance addresses archipelagic histories and the impact of global economic development.
The Current Convening #3 Tabu / Tapu – Who Owns the Ocean?
Rights of Cultures, Rights of Nature: Case Studies by Dr Cresantia Frances Koya Vaka’uta, Director, Oceania Centre for Arts, and Dr Cynthia Chou, Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Iowa
27 January 2018
Rights of Cultures, RIghts of Nature features case studies that position oceanic spaces as charged relational spaces. Dr Cresantia Frances Koya Vaka’uta’s exposition on tabu/tapu – the Fijian indigenous practice of taboo – outlines the relationality between environment and peoples, complicated by histories of colonial extractivism and the globalising project of cultural and environmental commodification. Dr Cynthia Chou brings these relationalities closer to home with a study of the Orang Suku Laut of the Riau archipelago. The practices of oceanic indigenous communities presented explore how a tidalectic way of living can inform modes of engagement with the hydrosphere, challenge conceptions of land-based embeddedness, and contribute to a vision of fluid futures.
#4: Summoning Spectres: Historiography as Hauntology
This month’s curated selection of NTU CCA Singapore’s past programmes draws on Jacques Derrida’s concept of hauntology – the return or persistence of elements from the past manifesting as ghosts and apparitions. – Summoning Spectres: Historiography as Hauntology speaks to the remnants of personal and collective cultural memory incompletely erased by imperial and colonial violence. These traces of erasure remain inscribed in post-Cold War regional histories and embedded in their lexicon and legacy. Using historiography as a method of inquiry, this playlist showcases the ways in which curator Dr June Yap, artists Sung Tieu, Amy Lien, and Enzo Camacho approach the subjectivation of colonial spectres through their practices, to surface historical narratives of oppression and to summon the ghosts of lost futures.
Symposium: Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History
In the Interest of Time by Dr June Yap, Director of Curatorial Programmes and Publications, Singapore Art Museum
28 October 2017
Through a survey of historiographical works by artists Nguyen Trinh Thi and Ho Tzu Nyen, Dr June Yap addresses how cinematic works engage their medium specificity in a play of historical phantoms and repressed collective memories. These works contribute to a broader artistic tradition involving the subjectivation of histories, which is at its heart a process of self-determination: “in subjectivation there is constitution — the constitution of the self and or an identity… as a rising, as produced or perpetuated… as temporal, as arising from relations, as produced in a struggle”. As Yap aptly phrases, “in temporal consciousness, an identity is arrived.”
Residencies Insights: Two Worlds, Four Spirits by Sung Tieu, Former Artist-in-Residence
3 December 2019
Central to the artistic practice of Sung Tieu is a personal experience of migration from Vietnam to Germany, which impels her to address Post-Cold War histories and the multiple negotiations that underpin a diasporic identity haunted by the spectres of French colonialism in Vietnam and Cold War military violence during the American-Vietnam wars. In this talk, the artist discusses recent projects — Memory Dispute (2017), Coral Sea As Rolling Thunder (2017), Remote Viewing (2017) and Loveless (2019) — which variously employ text, performance, installation, moving image, and sound to convey a sense of dislocation while offering deliberate interventions into canonical readings of history.
Behind the Scenes: On Alfonso Ossorio’s Angry Christ mural by artists Amy Lien and Enzo Camacho
1 December 2018
In this talk, collaborating artists Amy Lien and Enzo Camacho present their research on the Filipino-American modernist painter, Alfonso Ossorio (1916–1990), focusing on his 1950 mural, Angry Christ. For the artists, this mural, located in the province of Negros Occidental, the “sugar bowl of the Philippines”, is a “multivalent cipher”. When it is decoded, spectres of sixteenth century Spanish colonial violence — from the accorded name “Negros” to enforced religious, economic, and environmental functions — and the ghosts of indigenous people who were displaced or exterminated materialise. Lien and Camacho question whether the Angry Christ can be “radically reprogrammed” from the specific and highly privileged subjectivity of Ossorio, its maker, and the Ossorio family’s sugar dynasty, its commissioning patron.