‘On Film Curatorship’ Lecture Series: The History and Practice of Film Curating
July 13 – 18, 2018
Art Sonje Center B1 Art Hall
‘On Film Curatorship’ Lecture Series: The History and Practice of Film Curating
Art Sonje Center and Moving Image Forum present ‘Lecture Series on Film Curatorship’ — The History and Practice of Film Curating in association with EXiS 15th anniversary. The lecture series is organized in order to approach the history of ‘a simple and traditional activity of selecting films and introducing them to others’ at different levels. The roles of those who curate films and programs have been developed and had its complex historical trajectory.
However the terms for their roles have not even been clearly settled yet. In this program from the 13th to the 18th of July, 9 lecturers from international including Xavier García Bardón, Thomas Beard, Dong Bingfeng, Ulanda Blair, Érik Bullot, Oh Junho, Toh Hun Ping, Hirofumi Sakamoto and Mark Toscano are brought together to speak about their activities and researches based in China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, United States, France, Belgium, etc. The lecture series The History and Practice of Film Curating will be a rare moment to share thoughts and talk about the moving images.
The LANGUAGE OF THE MATERIAL
As a film preservationist and curator specializing in experimental cinema, the physical nature of the film medium plays an inevitable role in my thought process about my work. Film is made of stuff – the image is inscribed with light in a photographic emulsion and can be seen with the eye, touched with the skin. Many artists in the history of experimental cinema, and even continuing today, have explored the physical qualities of the medium itself as part of their process. As a result, my work to conserve and restore these films must employ an awareness and thoughtfulness about these ideas and intentions.
This presentation and discussion will illustrate and propose various ideas and information about my work and process, and the significance that the materiality of film plays in it. Various examples will be shared from my archival and curatorial practice that illustrate the variety of ways that materiality of film can be significant to my process, including artists such as Stan Brakhage, David Rimmer, Chick Strand, Morgan Fisher, and others.
Mark Toscano is a filmmaker, curator, and film preservationist based in Los Angeles. Since 2003, he has worked at the Academy Film Archive, where he specializes in the curation, conservation, and preservation of artists’ films. He works with the collections of over 100 filmmakers, and has overseen the conservation and preservation of hundreds of films, including work by Stan Brakhage, Barbara Hammer, Chick Strand, Tacita Dean, Penelope Spheeris, the Whitney brothers, Gus Van Sant, Pat O’Neill, Suzan Pitt, and many others. He has curated and presented programs at numerous venues, including MoMA, Arsenal, Eye Filmmuseum, Tate Modern, and festivals in Rotterdam, London, Oberhausen, Zagreb, Bangalore, and elsewhere. He is a programmer with Los Angeles Filmforum, and has lectured at various universities on experimental film and archiving, as well as teaching the History of Experimental Animation at CalArts.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF ALTERNATIVE CINEMAS IN AMERICA
Thomas Beard will lecture on the evolution of Light Industry, a venue for film and electronic art in Brooklyn, New York which, for the past decade, he has developed and overseen with the writer Ed Halter. The project centers upon a series of weekly events, which are frequently organized in collaboration with an invited artist, critic, or curator. Through this regular program of screenings, performances, and lectures, its goal is to bring together the worlds of contemporary art, experimental film, and documentary (to name only a few). But Light Industry is just one recent episode in a long series of alternative exhibitors in New York: Amos and Marcia Vogel’s legendary film society Cinema 16, Jonas Mekas and the Film-Makers’ Cinematheque, the Collective for Living Cinema, the Robert Beck Memorial Cinema, et al. Beard’s talk, then, will also consider this local tradition of intrepid little cinemas as well as a range of related enterprises throughout the United States that reimagined what the built environment, social architecture, and aesthetic experience of a cinema could be.
Thomas Beard is a founder and director of Light Industry and a programmer at large for the Film Society of Lincoln Center. He was the co-curator for the cinema programs at the 2012 Whitney Biennial and Greater New York 2010 at MoMA PS1, and has organized screenings for Artists Space, BAMcinématek, the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, the Centre Pompidou, Harvard Film Archive, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and Tate Modern.
PERFORMING THE SCREENING: ON THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE PROJECTIONIST
One can observe currently the disappearance of the projectionist. It is a discreet event, but real. What does it mean exactly? For a long time, the medium of cinema has been considered as a performative art. The projectionist had to handle the projector, to prepare the tools, to perform the screening, to test the different machines, to be present behind the window of the projection booth as a shadow. Now the digital projection does not need a human presence. The projectionist with his expertise and his memory can disappear. Is this situation really new? Since the beginning of the film, the work of the projectionist was located between performativity and automatic functioning. In the twenties, Felicien Trewey, magician, expressed his disillusion regarding to the appearance of the mechanical projectors.
“The projectors have improved, and they now use electric motors to run them, but an electric motor is a machine, and a machine can never equal a man at the handle.”
Screening was a performing art with its manual component. It is certainly the reason why the filmmaker Gregory Markopoulos was so obsessed by the conditions of the projection. He writes: “for in the future the projectionist shall be not so much an ordinary technician or worker as he will need to be not unlike a symphony conductor.”
How to think the current situation? Is the projectionist a vanishing mediator, or a translator? Does an installation need a projectionist? When I upload a film on YouTube, am I a projectionist? Is the user the new projectionist? This lecture proposes a historical and theoretical survey of the art of the projectionist, past and future, with different examples: classical and modern cinema (Buster Keaton, Billy Wilder, Raúl Ruiz), experimental tradition (Gregory Markopoulos, Bruce McClure, Peter Miller), contemporary art (Rosa Barba, Tacita Dean, Philippe Parreno).
Since completing his studies at the National School of Photography in Arles and the Institute for Advanced Film Studies (IDHEC) in Paris, Érik Bullot has directed numerous films that lie midway between documentary and experimental film. His approach as a filmmaker explores cinema’s formal and poetic forces. His work has been screened nationally and internationally, including the Jeu de Paume (Paris), the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), La Enana Marrón (Madrid), the Biennial of Moving Images (Genève), CCCB (Barcelona), the New Museum (New York), MoMA (New York). His most recent books are Le Film et son double (Mamco, 2017) and Du film performatif (it: éditions, 2018). He was visiting professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo (USA, 2009-2011), and at the CIA (Centro de Investigaciones Artísticas, Buenos Aires, 2013). He was in charge of the postgraduate program Document and contemporary art at the European School of Visual Arts, Poitiers-Angoulême (2010-16). Currently he teaches film at the École nationale supérieure d’art de Bourges.
TOSHIO MATSUMOTO AND POSTWAR JAPAN MOVING IMAGE
Crossover movement in postwar Avant-garde art was developed by Shinkichi Noda and Toshio Matsumoto in the field of educational and documentary films. Matsumoto published “On the method of Avant-garde documentary film” (1958), in the journal Kiroku Eiga (Documentary film)” and experimentally employed the theory to create documentary films. In the fifties, various movements were formed that concerned themselves with the theory and practice of postwar art, with a focus on the fine arts. Kiroku Eiga was issued by the Documentary Filmmakers Association, led by Noda Shinkichi and Matsumoto Toshio. The theory that aimed at the fusion of avant-garde and documentary, with Kiroku Eiga at the centre of the debate, was put into practice with Matsumoto’s Security Treaty (1960). Hirofumi Sakamoto will analyze, using archived material, how Matsumoto’s Avant-garde documentary theory appeared during the creation of Nishijin (1961), The Song of Stone (1963) and For the Damaged Right Eye (1968). He also argued that Avant-garde documentary possessed a function of interruption and disturbance.
Hirofumi Sakamoto (b.1974) obtained his Ph.D. degree in Media Studies from Kyoto Seika University, with a dissertation on The postwar implication of the theory of avant-garde documentary: Focused on the activities of Toshio Matsumoto until 1970. He organizes a screening, writing, editing, archiving to research about a documentary, experimental film, video art, media art for Japanese postwar moving image. He is currently University Professor for media theory and practice at the Wakkanai Hokusei Gakuen. He founded The Postwar Japan Moving Image Archive(PJMIA), devoted archiving and restoration project of the postwar experimental film in Japan. He collaborated with a various organization for the screening, publication, archiving and participated research project dedicated to early Japanese video art and experimental film with Mori Art Museum etc. He co-curated the Vital Signals: Early Japanese Video Art(2010, EAI), edited The World of Media ArtExperimental Film 1960-2007(2008) and PHANTOM/VERTIGO: World of Matsumoto Toshio(2012, Kuma Museum of Art), American Avant-Garde Movies(shinwasha, 2016), Documentary Film(Documentary Filmmaker’s Association, 1960s)(revived publication, fujishuppan, 2015-2016), Completed Writing of Toshio Matsumoto vol. 1 (1953-1965) (shinwasha, 2016).
TRACING THE RUPTURE OF THE AVANT-GARDE FILM PRACTICES OF THE 1960S IN KOREA; Cinepoem(1964-66) of Yu Hyun-mok(1925~2009) and Choi Il-soo(1924~1995)
In Korea, terms such as avant-garde, experimental, alternative, underground, and independent film, have been loosely borrowed and translated in reference to new and established cinematic practices from abroad. These terms did not correspond to truly autonomous practices and there has always been a gap between their definition, theory and practice. This is still the case today as many of these historical practices have been overlooked, leading to a conceptual distortion of contemporary practices under the banners of “innovation” and “convergence”. This presentation will map diachronically and synchronically the geography of Cinepoem, an important movement at the origin of experimental and alternative film in Korea.
Cinepoem was a film group founded in January 18, 1964 by Yu Hyun-mok and Choi Il-soo with the aim of producing avantgarde short films. Firstly, I will trace the concept of cinepoetry as it was originally used within French impressionist and surrealist film and poetry cycles and literary movements in Japan in the 1930s. Furthermore I will examine the emergence of the serialized cine-roman in Korean newspapers to research how the concept of cinepoem was adapted and transformed. I will focus on the contribution of Choi Il-soo, who appropriated the idea of the cinepoem in his scenarios and writings in a Korean context. Yu Hyun-mok’s Chunmong (1965) is usually seen as a late manifestation of German expressionism. In my presentation I will analyse the opening sequence of the film to show the influence of the theory of cinepoem as conceived by Choi. Synchronically, I will look at Yu’s participation in the 1963 San Francisco International Film Festival with Obaltan (1961), as well at the political and cultural context of the time, the film policy of Park Chung-hee’s military government, the U.S. technical assistance to Korea, and the establishment of National Film Production Center. We will make reference to the political background behind the submission of the film Hand (1966) to the 1967 International and Universal Exposition in Montreal. Finally, the aim is to show how Cinepoem was able to suture the double-goals of making artistic films while producing high-quality cultural and PR films under the umbrella of experimental and cutting-edge trends from abroad.
Oh Junho is an filmmaker and art educator. His works have been showcased at international festival including 25FPS(Zagreb), EXPERIMENTA(Bangalore) and has lectured extensively on film, video and media art. He studied material science at seoul national university and film & video at the school of the art institute of chicago. Currently he is an Associate professor at the School of Media, Sogang University in Seoul where his recent research explore performance-based cinema and educational cinema, orphan film. He also worked as programmer at EXiS festival. Last few years, he had done extensive research on history of korean experimental film. Based on the study, he published few papers and public seminar such as A Proposal for the Concept of Experimental Film of Hyun-mok Yu and Cinepoem (1964-66) (Audiovisual Pavilion, 2016).
From Screening to Exhibition: Curatorial Practice and Moving Image in China Since 1988
If you can say 1988 as the beginning of Chinese video art, today the history of History of “Moving Image” in China has already been 30 years. Of course, there are many different views and opinions on its cultural historiography in China. If the history of moving image is 30 years old, it looks very rich on the surface. On the other hand, we need to think about moving image itself as social formation was a chaotic mix of various artistic practices and theoretical discussions. I’ll take this complicated history into account on my presentation. First of all, we should base our basic premise on the fact that china’s moving image is a result of cooperation in various of art form such as new media art, independent film, experimental film and institutions, and on the other hand, of the competitive system. Some theories on the history of modern chinese art show that the art activities of the late 1970s are under the influence of government-led institutions. At the core of this discussion was that chinese art at the time was forced to participate in the arts in accordance with the social ideas provided by the government, art played an important role in reflecting social change in China. In other words, art has not only provided an ideological source for forming a government-led social aspect, but actively joined the process. Against this social background, the emergence of video art in China in the late 1980s was seen as a dissident and actively accepted, breaking the desire and notion of previous generations.
China’s independent film movement and New Chinese Documentary Film Movement, which began to develop actively at this time of year, are under such circumstances. The widespread of moving images has began to maximize the free space in the form of artistic expression. Due to this effect, the situation in which the art education system was shaped and the art museum was centered on interacting with and embracing the art system at an international level. This presentation is intended to address the historical issues of the curatorship in China, ask specific questions about the structural and historical situations of moving image. Today’s curatorship plays an important role in shaping the art system on the ground, will have its own political meaning without being institutionalized. If, then, you can think of curatorship as a language of art that has nothing to do with political intervention, as a process of mediation through which international cultural exchange is realized. In terms of institutional critique of modern Chinese art, the issue of Chinese art being consumed in the international art market today is clearly distinct from the absorbing of moving image.
China’s Moving Image and Curatorship are developing critically with various creative art spaces. The attempt to comprehensively approach the overall situation of various art museums, commercial galleries, the art fair, and independent film within art system is the most important point of this presentation. In this context, I’m going to expand and deal with the contemporary situation and prospect of moving image in China from video archives to cinematic places ranging from spontaneous performances.
Dong Bingfeng is a curator and producer based in Beijing. He is a research fellow in School of Intermedia Art, China Academy of Art. Since 2005, Dong Bingfeng has worked as curator in Guangdong Museum of Art and Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Deputy Director of Iberia Center for Contemporary Art, Art Director of Li Xianting’s Film Fund, and Academic Director of OCAT Institute. In 2013, Dong Bingfeng was awarded the “CCAA Chinese Contemporary Art Critic Award”. In 2015, he was awarded the Chinese Contemporary Art Critic Award of Yishu:Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art. In 2017, he was awarded the Robert H.N.Ho Family Foundation Greater China Research Grant. The publications about contemporary art and film planned and edited by Dong Bingfeng are more than 80 volumes, including the series of world film directors, curators, the leading theories of western art, Media Art, contemporary film, museum management and collection of contemporary art. He is the author of Jean-Luc Godard, Pier Paolo Pasolini (2003), and the chief-editor of Looking Through Film:Traces of Cinema and Self-Constructs in Contemporary Art (2010).
REWIND/REMIND: FILMMAKING IN SINGAPORE DURING EARLY-MID 20TH CENTURY
Singapore cinema has been garnering more attention in recent years, with many homegrown filmmakers earning accolades at major film festivals around the world. While contemporary Singaporean filmmakers deservedly get the limelight, a trove of brilliant classic films from what is now deemed the ‘golden age’ of cinema in Singapore (1940s to ‘70s) remains unseen and under-represented on the world cinema stage. It was an era of prolific movie production led by two major film studios – the Shaw Brothers’ ‘Malay Film Productions’ and ‘Cathay-Keris Film Productions’. A wonderful cornucopia of mainly Malay-language films was produced under a studio system modelled after Hollywood. The two studios competed to churn out large numbers of movies for a hungry regional market (more than 250 feature films were produced) and filmmakers took the opportunity to fine-tune their craft in the making of genre films: family melodramas, romance stories, detective thrillers, musicals, slapstick comedies and horror flicks. Some have become cult classics among cinephiles. In this talk, Hun Ping will highlight the evolution of Singapore filmmaking from the rise to the demise of the ‘golden age’, by discussing and showing a selection of the most characteristic moments from films produced during the period of the city’s transition from British colony to independent nation. Expect to see the technical dexterity and avant-garde stylings of film director Hussain Haniff in his antifeudalistic period films and musical comedies, the charm and showmanship of multi-talented directoractor-composer-singer P. Ramlee, the cult thrills of the Pontianak (a Malay folklore vampire) and Orang Minyak (the ‘Oily Man’) horror films, and the experimental work of one of Singapore’s first independent filmmakers Rajendra Gour.
Toh Hun Ping
Toh Hun Ping is an experimental filmmaker and film researcher. As part of preparations for an experimental found footage film, he began researching into the history of film production in 20th century Singapore. Developed from a personal blog on Singapore film locations (sgfilmhunter.wordpress.com), he created the Singapore Film Locations Archive, a private video collection of films made and shot in Singapore, and finds time to maintain the archive’s resource website (sgfilmlocations.com). He has worked as a writer-researcher and film editor for programmes at the National Museum of Singapore Cinémathèque (Foundation of Run Run Shaw’s Cinema Empire, Gems of Amoy Cinema) and the Asian Film Archive (State of Motion 2016-2018, Kong Ngee’s Nanyang Trilogy Restored). Most recently, he is working on ‘a thousand singapores’, an overarching and rhizomatous research and moving image project that seeks to track, document and explore the notions of ‘Singapore’ – as multifariously manifested and cinematically recorded/imagined in the history of cinema. Part of his research findings has surfaced as a stream of ‘a thousand singapores’ posts at facebook.com/sgfilmlocations and instagram.com/sgfilmhunter. The posts are somewhat playful yet critical attempts to explore connections between moments in film that evoke Singapore, and the realities of Singapore’s socio-cultural and political makeup and conditions over time.
TOWARDS AN ARCHEOLOGY OF EUROPEAN EXPERIMENTAL FILM PROGRAMMING
From the early case of the Knokke-le-Zoute EXPRMNTL film festival (Belgium, 1949-1974) — which for a long time was the only event explicitly devoted to avant-garde cinema and its relations to the other arts — to more recent examples, this presentation will try to propose an overview of the main historical places and contexts for so-called experimental or avant-garde cinema in Europe. From film festivals to museum and gallery presentations not to mention art biennials, it will underline a few situations that challenged conventions and shaped the way experimental cinema was/is shown and perceived. In this collective history, it will single out the role played by such events as the two New American Cinema tours in 1964 and 1967, such structures as XSCREEN (Cologne) or the GEFF Film Festival (Zagreb), among numerous groups and cooperatives, but also such individuals as Jacques Ledoux, Birgit & Wilhelm Hein, Pontus Hultén, Peter Kubelka and others.
Xavier García Bardón
Xavier García Bardón works as a film curator at BOZAR (Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels) and teaches at ERG (École de Recherche Graphique, Brussels). He holds a PhD degree in Film Studies from the Université Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle, with a dissertation on EXPRMNTL. A History of the Knokke / Brussels International Experimental Film Festival (1949-1974) under the supervision of Nicole Brenez.
Moving Images, Moving Histories: Building the M+ Moving Image Collection
Building a new museum for contemporary visual culture comes with a set of rare privileges, as well as great challenges. When that museum is being made in the second decade of the 21st century, on the border of a newly ascendant superpower, the task is further freighted with particular Considerations. Ulanda Blair will discuss the impetus behind the M+ Moving Image Collection, which is the first major public collection of international moving-image art in Asia, and the only international collection that positions Asia at its centre. She will discuss how Hong Kong’s historical balance of the local and global forms the context for M+ as a museum for Asia’s 21st century, a museum (and collection) that looks at the world from its base in Hong Kong. How might this burgeoning collection expand upon and complicate existing art-historical narratives, redressing discontinuities and missing links in the field of Asian moving-image historiography? What is the place of Chinese moving-image art within this story? Finally, how might the M+ Moving Image Collection weave a transnational narrative of inter-regional parallels, connections, and affinities, not to restore Asian moving-image artists to their rightful place in an existing canon, but rather to attempt a transformative critique of the canon itself?
Ulanda Blair is Curator of Moving Image at M+, a museum for visual culture scheduled to open in Hong Kong in 2020. At M+ she is leading the development of the moving-image collection and dedicated moving-image spaces, while also planning interim and future exhibitions, screening programmes, and symposiums. Prior to joining M+ in 2016, Ulanda was Curator at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in Melbourne, where she organized solo exhibitions of Yang Fudong, Julian Rosefeldt, Ian Burns, Orry-Kelly, and Warwick Thornton. She was also a co-curator of DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition, coordinating curator for the V&A’s Hollywood Costume, and coordinating curator for SFMOMA’s William Kentridge: Five Themes. She has delivered major site-specific art projects for the Echigo-Tsumari Triennale and the Setouchi Triennale in Japan, and she is a writer for various international art publications.
(include. All programs)
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** Tickets can be purchased on site.
Érik Bullot;Xavier García Bardón;Thomas Beard;Dong Bingfeng;Ulanda Blair;Oh Junho;Toh Hun Ping;Hirofumi Sakamoto;Mark Toscano
Art Sonje Center, Moving Image Forum
Arts Council Korea, Goethe-Institut Korea, Japan Foundation, Asia Film Archive;EXiS;PJMIA;FedEx