Slow Rushes for Auckland
Chen Chieh-jen (TWN),Emil Goh (MYS, AUS), Kim Young Jin (KOR), TV Moore (AUS), David Noonan (AUS), Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba (JPN, VNM), Song Dong (CHN), Wang Jian Wei (CHN), Apichatpong Weerasethakul (THA), Judith Wright (AUS),Yang Fudong (CHN)
15 June - 9 July 2005
Curated by Rhana Devenport, International Curator in Residence
Wang Jian Wei explains his approach to making video; 'It was in my experimentations with anthropological methodology, when I was trying to capture a certain "event" in daily life, that I came up with what you could call a new method of secret perception.' This methodology was undoubtedly informed by Wang's association in the mid 1990s with the 'New Documentary Movement' in China. In his four channel video work Living Elsewhere, 1999, filmed in an abandoned housing development in the outskirts of Chengdu, Wang observes the lives of four families to reveal the ruptures within China's contemporary social fabric. It is the carefully constructed endpoint of a year's systematic documentation by the artist. This work is a touchstone for the exhibition, Slow Rushes for Auckland.
Song Dong's Broken Mirror, 1999, is the first work encountered in the exhibition. In startling and rhythmic fashion, the work pierces the heart of the massive contradictions associated with the intensive urban development taking place today in China's massive city zones.
Inside the main gallery, Emil Goh's Between Seoul, 2004, presents cool and patient 360-degree sweeps of Korean apartments as the artist traces time and domestic worlds to create, in his own words, 'an extended landscape view'. The screen is split equally between two sequential scans of the camera, his filming always taking place at twilight. Yang Fudong, meanwhile, pours his luminous imagination into Backyard-Hey sun is rising, 2001, a quirky and reflective video tale touching upon friendship, intimacy and waiting that allows its nostalgia to shine through. David Noonan's Owl, 2004, is a silent observation of nocturnal creatures, through his eyes these birds seems to bear messages from elsewhere. Nearby, Judith Wright's Veil - part 1, 1997, offers a video record of a walking journey, filmed from the hip with the camera wrapped in a sari, the imagery travels the streets of Calcutta. The artist's gaze is averted, footage is purposefully random and her presentation discrete.
TV Moore's Urban Army Man, 2000, was shot in a single take down Sydney's frenetic Oxford Street, Moore's haunting acoustic guitar riffs shift this otherwise harrowing video portrait of displaced humanity into a reflective and poetic space. Kim Young Jin, in his elegant work Globe, 2001, takes the viewer on a private expedition into unfamiliar natural and psychic territories. The much admired Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul nudges up against a strangely sweet world of soap opera dialogues enacted by villagers in Thailand as he twists the space between celebrity, fiction and the everyday in his feature length film Haunted Houses, 2001. His film, Mysterious Object at Noon, 2000, meanwhile, takes the surrealist game of Exquisite Corpse as its formal structure and offers an absorbing excursion into narrative and quasi-documentary realms as the actors themselves shape storylines onscreen.
Chen Chieh-jen's work rests on a knife-edge between beauty and incomprehensible pain, his work Lingchi: Echoes of a historical photograph, 2002, was inspired by a photograph that documented one of the many public executions that took place in late-Qing Dynasty China, this photograph also launched writings by Georges Bataille. Historically, the accused were ceremonially stripped and 'painted' with opium tincture as an anaesthetic prior to execution. Chen's work, in black and white and slow motion accompanied by a spare soundtrack, reiterates the trauma that the original photograph documented while elaborating on ideas about human endurance, mortality and beauty.
Finally, for Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba, it is the world-halting events of the 1968 Tet Offensive in Vietnam that triggered the underwater balletic sequence in his celebrated work, Happy New Year-Memorial Project Vietnam II, 2003. Here Vietnamese divers manipulate a beautifully articulated Chinese New Year Dragon and a spinning 'Fate Machine' as the traumatic militaristic events of the past are lyrically evoked.
Slow Rushes for Auckland: Takes on the documentary sensibility presents the practice of eleven exceptional artists working in Asia and Australia whose idiosyncratic and powerful work with moving images offers meditative investigations on the idea and the form of the documentary. RD