Earthly Palimpsests: A film screening programme
Date & Time: Wed, 10 May @6PM-8PM
Location: Sàn Art
Units B.16 & B.17
132 Ben Van Don, Ward 6, District 4,
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
As part of Sàn Art Studio #2, Sàn Art and artist-in-residence Miên presented a screening series focused on how artist-filmmakers are engaging with spiritual, political, and historical dimensions of the natural world. Composed of 5 short films produced by regional artists, this programme invited viewers to engage in a complex dialogue with, and to reconsider, the mythological and spiritual ecologies shaping our relationships with and responsibilities to plants and animals, land, stone, water, place, and community.
**Banner image courtesy of Natasha Tontey.
▸ kindred / Lêna Bùi / Vietnam / 2021 / 7:40
▸ Wa’anak Witu Watu / Beranak Dalam Batu / Natasha Tontey / Indonesia / 2021 / 25:00
▸ Khu vườn kỳ lạ / Magical Garden / Trương Công Tùng / Vietnam / 2012 / 8:20
▸ To Pick a Flower / Shireen Seno / Philippines / 2021 / 17:00
▸ My Ailing Beliefs Can Cure Your Wretched Desires / Tuan Andrew Nguyen / Vietnam / 2017 / 19:00
About the films
kindred – Lêna Bùi
“Invoking the imagination of water as a conduit to spiritual realms, Lêna Bùi’s film poem contemplates reincarnation in a mesmerising mosaic of sounds, languages, and images taken from different places and time periods. The film opens and ends with water, passing through the underworld where boundaries between nations, species, and eras become porous. In this radically open state, we are free to flow between our own memories and those of the universal.” — text by Nguyễn Đình Tôn Nữ, from Echoes, Embers a Nhu Trang Trong Dem film program
Wa’anak Witu Watu / Beranak Dalam Batu – Natasha Tontey
Researched and speculated on the North Sulawesi where once belief that the first person was a woman and gave birth through a stone, Wa’anak Witu Watu investigates the fiction, myth, and cosmology of the Minahasan and their relation to the geo entity stone. The indigenous practice of Minahasa tribe—where humans celebrate their form of communication with stone—is understood as only a pre-institutionalised religion practice and categorised as animist belief. However, for people living there they see themselves practicing monotheism. There are almost no boundaries between Life and Non-Life in Minahasa cosmology. In this work, the dynamic of Minahasan cosmology is explored alongside its potential to imagine an alternative world where the phenomena of anthropocentrism practically does not exist.
Khu vườn kỳ lạ / Magical Garden – Trương Công Tùng
Magical Garden is based around the unusual phenomena that have occurred at the ‘Magical Garden’ in Long An Province, Vietnam. The garden is said to possess healing properties for the sick, who visit and bathe in the waters there. It was so popular that at its peak in 2004, many hundreds of people were visiting per day. Truong’s three-part series consists of collected photographs from patients in the garden, which capture spectral rays over the sick; filmed footage of visitors in ‘healing’ waters who have entered into trance-states.
To Pick a Flower – Shireen Seno
Employing archival images from the United States’ occupation of the Philippines, Seno’s To Pick a Flower explores how the meaning and uses of nature were altered by colonial rule. The essay cogently demonstrates the historical similarities between human and plant extraction and commodification, and shows photography’s role in instilling 20th century western ideologies on “natural resources.”
My Ailing Beliefs Can Cure Your Wretched Desires – Tuan Andrew Nguyen
Part of an ongoing body of work that includes Empty Forest, “My Ailing Beliefs Can Cure Your Wretched Desires” is a two-channel video that dissects the relationships between Vietnamese mythology, the country’s political complexities and the nation’s very special animal ecosystem. The complex systems of Vietnamese beliefs in the magical healing power of certain animals have led to the current global predicament that threatens the extinction of rhinos and other species, simultaneously fueling the extensive illegal trade in endangered animals.