As part of the Singapore Art Week (SAW), Asian Film Archive (AFA) presents:
“State of Motion 2017 – Through Stranger Eyes ”
January 6th, 2017 – February 5th, 2017
The Plaza National Library Building
If you want to visit Cinema through the eyes of a historian, now is your chance! As the Asian Film Archive transports you to historic film locations in Singapore and presents unique Artwork especially commissioned to respond to the cinematic locations screened in films throughout post and pre-independence Singapore. If you are a Singaporean that aims to enrich your experience and understanding of Singaporean culture, or just a plain old Film Lover, then take your family along as you traverse through time and witness Cinema, past and present retold and reimagined through famous landmarks and venues in and around Singapore! ‘Through Stranger Eyes’ might be just that and more! Please visit the Asian Film Archives Webpage for tickets and Event Schedule: http://asianfilmarchive.org/events/state-of-motion-2017/
This effort is aimed at encouraging research and critical analysis of the films, as well as preserving the rich film heritage of Asian Cinema. This year SOM will explore Singapore as a location for various films and documentaries and Singapore’s mutability as an actor. The participants are taken to various locations where films in post and pre-independence Singapore were filmed. Each location also houses a piece of Artwork that reflects the films and its shooting location. “ State of Motion 2017 – Through Stranger Eyes” this year is a combination of talks, panel discussion, film screenings and tours, hence offering a variety of programs to choose from.
The locations include familiar sites around Singapore such as The Golden Mile Food Centre, National Library Building and Far East Plaza among others. The films include In Search Of The Unreturned Soldiers In Malaysia, The Wild Eye, Ring of Fury, Ricochet and Saint Jack.
We at FUCHSIA were definitely intrigued by this concept and decided to talk to Kent Chan, the curator of SOM and Thong Kay Wee – Project Manager for State of Motion 2017, Asian Film Archive.
THONG KAY WEE :
How do you feel SOM can add value to the Asian film industry and in particular Singapore ?
The Asian Film Archive was set up to preserve the rich film heritage of Singapore and Asia, and to cultivate an appreciation of this art form to a wider audience.
‘State of Motion’ is an annual series of organised film screenings, talks and art tours, that brings together various artists, art forms and research material to expand the dialogue beyond the screens. It is an opportunity for us to highlight not just interesting films that feature Singapore’s place in film history, but also spotlight the work of up and coming local artists to show how film and history can inspire Art.
Themed ‘Through Stranger Eyes’, the second edition of ‘State of Motion’ aims to showcase different representations of Singapore in both international and local films, and highlight our history as a destination for foreign filmmakers in the 1960s – 1980s.
What do you aim to achieve through this exhibition ?
Cinema, beyond its artistic and entertainment value, can also be looked upon as documents of time. Through this exhibition, we hope to get Singaporeans to reflect on and appreciate our history and cultivate interest in our film heritage.
How does State of Motion encourage more and more young people, the new generation, and expats to come and see local productions?
This year’s ‘State of Motion’ is the biggest yet, with programs and a selection of films that cater to a variety of audiences. There are films in English, Japanese and Mandarin, spanning all genres from action to documentaries and biopics.
One of the highlights of ‘State of Motion’ is the guided bus tour, where participants travel in and around Singapore to the film locations of the featured films. Though most people would be familiar with the locations, such as Far East Plaza and Golden Mile Food Centre, we hope that through the films and artworks exhibited at each locale, audiences discover the rich film history at these sites and see these places through stranger eyes, to uncover the many different imaginations of Singapore.
We hope that this unique mix of cultures and influences will interest everyone to come and enjoy Film in all its various nuances.
Were there any challenges faced in implementing this theme ?
The challenge was to weave together seemingly disparate films, themes and locations from the 1960’s to 1980’s period of Singapore’s cinema history.
We were careful, however, not to impose a simple, unifying narrative, but to present the complex intersecting histories between space and cinema in this year’s exhibition.
Is there a particular message you want to communicate through this particular theme this year?
Through promoting and educating the public on the rich film heritage of Singapore and Asian Cinema, we hope to encourage research and appreciation of our film history and heritage.
In today’s fast-paced life, we are accustomed to looking at spaces and history through our own present eyes. We hope this exhibition allows participants to view Singapore’s state of progress and its history through various perspectives, as seen through film.
Participants are encouraged to not only look back, but to traverse through the many different imaginations of Singapore, as seen through stranger eyes.
On what basis were these specific films and locations selected ? What were the main factors you considered during this process ?
The films, as the theme of ‘Through Stranger Eyes’ suggests, are based on different perspectives from around the world and were chosen not just because of their images of Singapore, but also because they show how our nation state was perceived socially and politically. The film locations were selected based on their presence in the films.
This tedious and meticulous process of selection, research and consolidation, curated by Kent Chan and supported by our film researcher Toh Hun Ping, eventually influenced the scope and direction that the exhibition would take.
THONG KAY WEE is a filmmaker, arts producer and film curator. He currently works as the Outreach Officer at the AFA. Part publicist and part programmer, he is responsible for devising strategies and programmes to propagate Asian cinema which is AFA’s mission. His key contributions to AFA include curating the exhibition series Celluloid Void: The Lost Films of Southeast Asia (2015-2016) and creative production for the film history-cum-art tour series, State of Motion (2016-2017).
Tell us how did you come up with this idea ? What was the process involved ?
As with the previous edition, Asian Film Archives (AFA) sets out the scope for this year. Then, Hun Ping with his extensive knowledge and research of Singapore films and their filming location would propose a list of films and possible locations. Finally, I come in and try to narrow down the selection based on the common threads we identify from the films and the artists that we’d like to invite to have them respond to.
What were the motivating factors in choosing this concept as the main theme ?
What was very present in last year’s edition was the history of Singapore’s development in the years surrounding its gaining independence. So in hindsight, it seems that we’ve naturally found ourselves looking at films from the subsequent decades after independence. Which is a particularly interesting period in Singapore cinema, largely because of the absence of one. Feature film production ground to a halt in the 70’s and 80’s, so what you have was a bunch of foreign films and the odd local production that basically had carte blanche in terms of representation of this island. And the results were films that produced a rather uncanny Singapore that was not without consequences.
If people are not familiar with the movies or the characters, what would interest them to take this tour ?
Plenty of things! First of all, as I had mentioned, we don’t just offer films. There’s a great bunch of artworks that artists have been commissioned to do specifically in response to these films. We look at the history and the context that revolves around them that offers a very different lens to look at Singapore. You can know nothing about these films and still plug right into the whole tour.
Also the film screenings will be showcased before and after the guided bus tours so that the public will have an opportunity to not just understand the cinematic context behind the exhibition, but appreciate the films from different angles.
If you were to convince me, a Singaporean with South Asian origin, what would you say to convince me to come and take one of these tours.
That’s its absolutely worth your time.
KENT CHAN is an artist, filmmaker and curator based in Singapore and Amsterdam. His practice revolves around our encounters with art, fiction and cinema that explore the links between aesthetic experience and knowledge production, with particular interest in the relationship between moving images and the modern city. The works and practices of others often form the locus of his works, which examines the ambiguity that lies at the interstices of art (making) and daily life. His works have taken the form of film, text, conversations and exhibitions.
Please visit The Asian Film Archive Webpage for Tickets and Event Schedule: http://asianfilmarchive.org/events/state-of-motion-2017/
This article is the collaboration effort of several members of Team FUCHSIA.