Displaced Belongings presents six recent film and video works by Asian artists that explore the complex nature of identity. Artists respond to personal and global experiences, such as war and memory, ejection from home and expression of sexual identity to inform their filmmaking. Drawing a dialogue through themes such as gender, race, class and self-image, artists express their identities, uncovering and recovering memories to analyse daily life.
Films by artists Suneil Sanzgiri and Bella Riza explore the emotional diasporic memories of their families; from the colonial history of India to the ongoing dispute between Turkish and Greek Cypriots. Mao Haonan’s film, Action, Almost Unable to Think tells the life story of a soldier from his personal perspective after death.
Matthis Zhang and Su Hui-Yu’s work show the possibilities and beauty of queerness, and in contrast, the harshness of civic and social oppression. And in A Private Collection by Wu Chi-Yu, the artist reveals a migrant couple’s passion for their pirate DVD collection, which reminds us that the impact of a film can go far beyond the screen, and provide a new understanding of the world.
Artists in this programme include: Mao Haonan (China), Bella Riza (UK), Suneil Sanzgiri (US), Su Hui-Yu (Taiwan), Wu Chi-Yu (Taiwan) and Mathis Zhang (China). Action, Almost Unable to Think by Mao Haonan (2018) and At Home But Not at Home by Suneil Sanzgiri (2019) have not been shown in the UK before.
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- Download programme notes here: Displaced Belongings (Programme details)
- Full programme details, including descriptions of films can be viewed below.
At Home But Not at Home, Suneil Sanzgiri (US), 2019, 10:43 mins (UK premiere)
Salt House, Bella Riza (UK), 2017, 12:39 mins
Action, Almost Unable to Think, Mao Haonan (China), 2018, 11:20 mins (UK premiere)
Dreams, Butterfly Boy Dreams (Genesis), Mathis Zhang (China), 2019, 7:13 mins
The Glamorous Boys of Tang(1985, Chui Kang-Chien), Su Hui-Yu (Taiwan), 2018, 15 mins
A Private Collection, Wu Chi-Yu (Taiwan), 2016, 13:33mins
Disclaimer: Please be aware there is nudity in this film programme – suitable for 18+
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About the Programme
घरी पण घरी नाही At Home But Not at Home, Suneil Sanzgiri (US), 2019, 10:43 mins (UK premiere)
In 1961, 14 years after India gained independence from Britain, the Indian Armed Forces defeated the last remaining Portuguese colonizers in the newly formed state of Goa. Sanzgiri’s father was 18 at the time, and had just moved away from his small village of Curchorem to Bombay for school when news reached him about his home—now free from the oppression of a foreign hand after 450 years of colonial rule. After spending years thinking about questions of identity, liberation, and the movement of people across space and time, Sanzgiri finds himself returning to this period in search of moments of anti-colonial solidarity across continents. The research took him from the shores of Goa, to Indonesia, Mozambique, and Angola, finding brief links between nascent liberation movements and his father’s biography.
Combining 16mm footage with drone videography, montages from the “Parallel cinema” movement in India, desktop screenshots, and Skype interviews with the artist’s father, the resulting film utilizes various methods and modes of seeing at a distance to question the construction of artifice, memory, and identity through the moving image.
Salt House, Bella Riza (UK), 2017, 12:39 mins
Salt House offers an intimate glimpse of Riza’s father Alper as he returns to his home and native Cyprus. Having left during the war in 1968, it is through revisiting the island and cooking the dishes from his childhood that he is able to reconnect to his past, and talk openly about memory, identity and migration.
The film fragments across domestic spaces and landscapes, meshing together Alper, his voice and the atmosphere of the island. A personal portrait emerges revealing the emotional effects from the war, with vivid memories, rich landscapes and Cypriot food.
Action, Almost Unable to Think 行動，幾乎難以思考, Mao Haonan 茅昊楠 (China), 2018, 11:20 mins (UK premiere)
Mao Haonan’s film, Action, Almost Unable to Think tells a soldier’s story from his perspective after being killed by a bomb while greeting a civilian. The film aims to portray this moment of contradiction and fragility from the soldier’s inner world, through hypnotic imagery, fiery symbolism and reflections on reality.
Dreams, Butterfly Boy Dreams (Genesis), Mathis Zhang 張杭 (China), 2019, 7:13mins
Dreams, Butterfly Boy Dreams is a journey of self-identity exploration. It is a dream about gender fluidity and non-binary thinking. Mathis discover their gender identity throughout their culture backgrounds and cross-culture life experiences, using diverse resources, ancient stories, philosophy to develop their own God in their deep soul.
The Glamorous Boys of Tang 唐朝綺麗男, Su Hui-Yu 蘇匯宇 (Taiwan), 2018, 15 mins
The Glamorous Boys of Tang was inspired by the film of the same name, Tang Chao Chi Li Nan (The Glamorous Boys of Tang) by the renowned poet and screenwriter Chui Kang-Chien’s (邱剛健), which was first screened in Taiwan in 1985. This was two years prior to the end of Taiwan’s martial law period, a period of conservatism, which meant the film – which illustrates a homoerotic fantasy – was ill-received at the time.
Chui’s original film opens with a dance scene, part of an unexplained exorcism ceremony. This is followed by the appearance of two pretty boys whose mutual fascination suffuses the screen. The film also includes disturbing killings, death, and orgies accompanied by dissonant sound effects created with a synthesiser, bizarre and gaudy set design, and ill-considered costumes.
By comparing Chui’s film with its original script at the Taiwan Film Institute archives, it is clear his film was heavily edited due to (at the time) sensitive content. More than thirty years later, Su Hui-Yu recreated The Glamorous Boys of Tang using differently gendered bodies, demonstrating the diverse subcultures of Taiwan nowadays. It can be seen as a reshoot and re-narration of the original 1985 version, or the next step in its journey.
A Private Collection 自選片單, Wu Chi-Yu 吳其育 (Taiwan), 2016, 13:33 mins
Two foreign labourers talk about their private collection: pirated DVDs. Their memories of watching movies can be traced back to their childhood while living in Myanmar; whenever they had time off work, they spent it watching pirate movies bought from the nearby market by the temple. To them, watching movies is more than entertainment; it has become a crucial way to learn about the reality of the world, and to understand the connections between life and film.
Find out more about the artists here.
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