Les Enfants Terribles: A Screening Programme
9 Dec, 2022 – 13 Jan, 2023
Location: Sàn Art
Units B.16 & B.17
132 Ben Van Don, Ward 6, District 4,
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Language: English only*
Taking inspiration from the rebellious, playful, and irreverent nature of its current exhibition Don’t Call it Art!, Sàn Art presents a series of weekly art-house screenings attesting to the anti-mainstream, the transgressive and experimental spirit featured at our space. Much like the artists present at the gallery, the maverick filmmakers featured in this ongoing programme are remembered for testing form in film, new modes of narration and celebrating outcast figures or marginal subject-matter.
On view until the 11th of February 2023, Don’t Call it Art! showcases artworks and documentation from Veronika Radulovic’s archive featuring pieces by Truong Tan, Nguyen Minh Thanh and Nguyen Quang Huy, protagonists of a free-spirited and youthful art scene that emerged in Hanoi in the early 1990s and marking the onset of contemporary art in Vietnam.
*Due to a lack of resources, the screening series was in English only.
Screening #1: The Garden (1990) – Derek Jarman
Time & Date: Fri, 9 Dec, 2022 @6:30-8PM
A British art-house film focusing on a series of wordless narratives intertwining images of the artist’s private life in Dungeness, reflections on one’s mortality, on the AIDS crisis, and gender fluidity. Living through the eras of Punk and Thatcherism, artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman imbued his work with a rebellious force that was essential in a time of political conservatism and homophobia. After being diagnosed with HIV in 1986 – and being one of the first public figures to speak about it – he moved to an old fisherman’s hut near the nuclear power-plant of Dungeness where he created a magical retreat combining local plants with artworks created from found objects washed up by the sea. This is the setting for The Garden, one of Jarman’s final works, a tale of persecuted lovers set in this extraordinary landscape.
Screening #2: The Naked Lunch (1991) – David Cronenberg
Time & Date: Fri, 16 Dec, 2022 @6-8PM
A Surrealist science-fiction film based on the work of literary rebel, Beat poet and artist-provocateur William Burroughs. Not quite an adaptation of the novel, The Naked Lunch transposes the hallucinatory stories of an exterminator and drug addict in a world of giant talking insects with other Burroughs texts and personal anecdotes. The film remains one of Cronenberg’s most experimental and creative features, representative of his early art-house career, while already featuring themes of ongoing interest such as political angst, societal paranoia, society vs machine, and hyperbolic violence. The nod to Burroughs’ novel is also of significance as the publication was initially banned in the US due to obscenity and mentions of drug-use, a decision revoked in 1963 due to the work’s redeeming “social value,” opening the doors for the artistic and cultural freedom in the country from the 1960s onward.
Screening #3: The Living End (1992) – Gregg Araki
Time & Date: Fri, 13 Jan, 2022 @6-8PM
Two HIV-positive drifters are brought together after a deadly encounter with a police officer and decide to embark on a roadtrip. Referred to as a “gay Thelma and Louise,” The Living End showcases the early forming of Gregg Araki’s signature aesthetics including saturated colours, B-movie inspirations, a taste for underground music, and a line-up of queer and hip characters. Labelled in the 1990’s as one of the faces of New Queer Cinema, Araki’s work has constantly stood out for its outsider sensibility and recurring themes of alienated youth, tragedy and queer expression.
Screening #4: Pi (1998) – Darren Aronofsky
Time & Date: Sat, 11 Feb, 2023 @6-8PM
Known for his intriguing psychological dramas that have received mainstream acclaim (Black Swan, Mother!, Requiem for a Dream, etc), Darren Aronofsky launched his career with the experimental Pi: a minimalist, low-budget film shot in rough, high-contrast black and white with limited cast and dialogue. While his directorial debut is closer to No Wave and New York indie cinema of the time, we still find important themes in Aronofsky’s filmography: namely, the study of madness and obsession that he continues revisiting throughout his career. Looking back on 2022, Pi feels emblematic of the turn of the millennium, the marking of an era as we dive into technology and the internet world, a contrast sharpened by the film’s extreme analog quality. It’s also one of Aronofsky’s most philosophical works, one that questions life’s infinite possibilities as the protagonist perceives and analyses all elements surrounding him as variations of mathematical algorithms, numbers, and patterns. If he can deduce the patterns, then he can predict anything, and even unlock the very mystery of existence.