1 April – 30 September 2021
The filmic and performative practice of Russell Morton (b. 1982, Singapore) explores folkloric myths, esoteric rituals, and the conventions of cinema itself. His film Saudade (2020) was commissioned for State of Motion: Rushes of Time, Asian Film Archives, Singapore, and presented at the 31st Singapore International Film Festival (2020); The Forest of Copper Columns (2015) won the Cinematic Achievement Award at the 57th Thessaloniki Film Festival, Greece (2016) and was selected for several festivals including the Short Shorts Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan (2017); the Thai Short Film and Video Festival, Bangkok, Thailand and Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival, Indonesia (both 2016).
During the residency, Russell Morton concentrates on developing his first feature film which tackles the perverse dynamics of crime and punishment as well as the ancient wisdom couched in local stories of haunting and other regional lore. Stemming from personal circumstances—due to his father’s employment as commander of the prison tactical unit, the artist grew up in Changi Prison’s quarters —Morton developed a direct, albeit unspoken, intimacy with the tortuous ethical issues and psychological consequences related to the most extreme form of law enforcement. Through researching archival materials, oral histories as well as literature and films from post-independence Singapore, the artist plans to interweave the nightmares and traumas experienced by both the punisher and the punished by steeping the fictional narrative into Malayan myths, folk music, and vernacular architecture.
Image: Russell Morton, The Forest of Copper Columns, 2015, HD Video. Courtesy the artist.