Symposium: Ghosts and Spectres – Shadows of History
On the occasion of the exhibition Ghost and Spectres – Shadows of History curated by Professor Ute Meta Bauer and Khim Ong, and the 4th anniversary of NTU CCA Singapore.
Taking the works in the current show as points of departure, the symposium brings together the artists of the exhibition, as well as curators and scholars researching on the subject matter, to generate a discussion on muted histories and legacies, as they cast light upon past events that still impact society today, particularly in terms of power structures and restriction of social freedom. The role of the moving image—the medium used by the four exhibiting artists—will be analysed to demonstrate how it reveals, as much as it conceals, past traumas that evade representation.
Divided into two sessions, the symposium explores the artists’ working processes and methodological approaches through structured conversations consisting of lectures, presentations, and moderated discussions. The focus will lie on the sources of inspiration as well as on the motivations of the artists’ practices, and on the construction and contestation of official narratives. Ho Tzu Nyen, Nguyen Trinh Thi, and Park Chan-kyong will expand on the historical events and socio-political contexts that feed into their work, and on the different strategies employed to revive collective memory. Scholar Dr Clare Veal will highlight the medium specificity in the works of Apichatpong Weerasethakul to address conflicted histories, whereas the lectures by curators Dr June Yap and Hyunjin Kim, as well as the keynote lectures by Dr May Adadol Ingawanij and Professor Kenneth Dean, aim to articulate the complicated geopolitical relations in contemporary Asia.
11.00am – 1.10pm
Session I: Shadows of History
Chaired by Dr Roger Nelson, curator and art historian, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, School of Art Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and NTU CCA Singapore
Dedicated to the uncovering of neglected histories, this session will look at the construction of historical narratives and their role in reflecting social, political, and cultural conditions. Occluded by the propagation of progress and nation building, what has been left out and rendered unspeakable in the region’s bid to establish national identities and political autonomy? Referencing the works of Ho Tzu Nyen and Nguyen Trinh Thi, this session traces post-war and Cold War legacies in Asia and investigates their lingering spectres.
2.30 – 5.30pm
Session II: Ghosts and Spectres
Chaired by Dr David Teh, researcher and curator, Assistant Professor, Department of English Language and Literature, National University of Singapore (NUS)
Referencing the works of Park Chan-kyong and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, this session deals with notions of ghosts and spectres as allegories of historical moments and dreamlike realities. Embedded in myths and folklore, what roles do they play in constructing an understanding of the past and in reflecting socio-political circumstances? How do cinematic works engage their medium-specificity in a play of historical phantoms and repressed collective memories, to create a language for portraying trauma, loss, dreams, and nightmares?