January 7. - 28.

An Unlikely Return to The Legend of Origins

Sriwhana Spong
Ho Tzu Nyen
Heman Chong & Rodney LaTourelle

Organised by Heman Chong and Rodney LaTourelle


Opening January 6., 19:00-23:00
at Sparwasser HQ, Torstrasse 161, Berlin Mitte

Open hours : Wednesday-Friday 4 pm to 7 pm, Saturday 2pm to 6 pm


Press photo and CVs of the artists

The exhibition presents two videos and a wall drawing in dialogue about the reciprocal relationship between construction and interpretation. These three positions build a matrix of associations around the crucial role of contingency in the assemblage of cultural coherence. The succession of images inherent in video art necessarily structure a perception of narrative, a format especially recognizable through the ubiquity of television and film. The two videos presented each share a method of appropriating received history according to a more personal inquiry and vision. These videos share a preoccupation with a desire to engage with formative information from the past, not through hermeneutic method, but using the re-framing and re-forming of images. The wall drawing shifts the attention from the construction of narrative or history to the process of production itself. It combines a documentation of the crises, pitfalls, and roadblocks that dwarf the ideological concerns inherent in cultural production.

With Utama ­ Every Name in History is I, Singapore-based artist Ho Tzu Nyen, employs a docu-drama format to question the ontology of the founding of Singapore and of the historical persona in general. Historical characters are pictured and linked in various scenarios described by a voice-over in Malay with English subtitles. The narrative is destabilized by the fact that the artist plays every motley character in this complex narrative that eventually connects to well-known historical fetishes like Vasco de Gama, Captain Cook, and others. The weaving of history and myth is further explored by the convincing yet extremely stylized art direction that fuses high/lo artifice with documentary, painting with film, and drama with camp to probe dominant historical discourses.

In the SparwasserHQ basement, Sriwhana Spong combines the paranoid with the celebratory as she fuses Western and Eastern motifs in the hallucinatory video, Nightfall. This unsteady nocturnal journey between mysterious assemblages of fruit, incense, cigarettes and other votive offerings uses slow zooms and a bizarrely distorted version of Cat Steven's, Here Comes My Baby to combine 70s nostalgia and the supernatural ala Blair Witch. Spong, who has a combination of Eastern and Western lineage, based the shrine-like constructions on Balinese offerings that she describes as "portals between two different dimensions." She describes Bali as having it's last gasp at paradise in the 70s and this nostalgia informs the gamelan-sounding transformation of the Cat Steven's song. But it is the meandering narrative of strange constructions - stolen, borrowed, adapted from Balinese culture and combined with Western references like popcorn that haunts this video and carries her united vision of non-linear traditions. Spong exposes how the devotional offerings of one culture become the symbols of a supernatural other in another. Instead of ambiguity, this Janus-effect produces a productive sense of tension.

This is the kind of tension that is noted in the wall drawing, Crises on Infinite Earths, by Heman Chong and Rodney LaTourelle. Sketching with pencil directly on the wall, like laconic scribbles in a toilet, this aggravated map of snares, snags, and hazards presents a parallel narrative foil of art and video production. In this confessional context, the prosaic may transform into a celebratory testament.


info Heman Chong: heman66(at)gmx.de

Sparwasser HQ
Offensive für zeitgenössische Kunst und Kommunikation
Torstrasse 161, 10115 Berlin
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