Screening Program & Reading Group: Glad We Made It On Time

Still from Zeina Barakeh’s video work Scenarios of Breaking Down a Wall (2014)

Salt Beyoğlu, Walk-in Cinema

Salt’s screening program Glad We Made It On Time, organized in collaboration with the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, features a selection of video works from Palestine to Hong Kong, Indonesia to Iraq and India, exploring the notion of humor as a survival methodology in conflicted times. The program investigates the different forms that humor can take in a post-apocalyptic world, ranging from mythological symbols and collective fantasies to subtle gestures and absurd plots.

The selection explores the relationship between humor and hope as a form of alternative narrative-making that can heal, bind and serve diverse cultures and politically vulnerable individuals. On a personal level, humor has always been one of the most common coping mechanisms for dealing with the imbalance between the internal desire for control and external unpredictability. The program draws its name from Phan Anh’s Glad I made it on time, which is included in the program and refers to the devastating feeling of always being late in a hyper-productive, post-capitalist society.

The program includes works by Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, Zeynep Kayan and Özgür Atlagan, Tiffany Chung, Angela Su, Arahmaiani, Alison Nguyen, Connie Zheng, Phan Anh, Choi Sai-Ho, Walid Siti, Chitra Ganesh, Zeina Barakeh.

Naz Cuguoğlu and Vicky Do programmed Glad We Made It On Time in response to After Hope: Videos of Resistance, organized by the Asian Art Museum and curated by Abby Chen and Padma Maitland with video selections drawn from recommendations by artists, curators and organizations across the world.

Reading Group
As part of Glad We Made It On Time, Collective Çukurcuma and m-est.org will host a collaborative reading group at Salt Beyoğlu on Saturday, September 24 at 17.00. Moderated by Naz Cuguoğlu, Lara Ögel, and Merve Ünsal, the production of this session is part of the World Weather Network, co-founded and supported by SAHA in Turkey.

Please RSVP at collectivecukurcuma@gmail.com to receive reading group materials by Sara Ahmed, Ursula Le Guin and Etel Adnan. The reading discussion will be in Turkish.

PROGRAM #1
Saturday, September 24, 14.00 and 16.00
Sunday, September 25, 14.00 and 16.00

And yet my mask is powerful part 1, Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, 2016, 8’25”
English; Turkish subtitles

candle #4 (until finding the source of the water), Zeynep Kayan and Özgür Atlagan, 2017-2019, 4’27”

Thousands of years before and after, Tiffany Chung, 2012, 9’02”

Caspiar, Angela Su, 2017, 5’20”
English, French; Turkish, English subtitles

I Don’t Want to Be Part of Your Legend, Arahmaiani, 2004, 11’34”
English; Turkish subtitles

Program Duration: 39 minutes

PROGRAM #2
Saturday, September 24, 15.00 and 17.00
Sunday, September 25, 15.00 and 17.00

Dessert—Disaster, Alison Nguyen, 2017-2018, 3’54”
English; Turkish subtitles

The Lonely Age, Connie Zheng, 2019, 11’47”
English; Turkish subtitles

Glad I made it on time, Phan Anh, 2018, 10’15”
Korean; Turkish subtitles

Black Moon, Choi Sai-Ho, 2019, 5’10”
English; Turkish subtitles

The Troubled Bear and the Palace, Walid Siti, 2019, 10’28”
Arabic, English; Turkish subtitles

Metropolis, Chitra Ganesh, 2018, 1’25”

Scenarios of Breaking Down a Wall, Zeina Barakeh, 2014, 4’7”

Program Duration: 47 minutes

And yet my mask is powerful part 1
Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, 2016

Neolithic masks taken from the West Bank and surrounding areas and stored in private collections are hacked and 3D-printed. The oldest known masks, dating back 9,000 years, mutate from dead fossil to living matter. Copies circulate in Palestine, eerily akin to a black ski mask. A group of youth wear them at the site of a destroyed Palestinian village; becoming other, becoming anonymous, in this accidental moment of ritual and myth, they embark on a series of trips to possess and almost become possessed by these strangely living sites of erasure and wreckage. And yet my mask is powerful confront the apocalyptic imaginary and violence that dominates our contemporary moment. Taking Adrienne Rich’s poem Diving into the Wreck as the beginning of the script, it asks what happens to people, places, things and materials when a living fabric is destroyed. The project uses trips taken by young Palestinians to the sites of their destroyed villages inside Israel as an avatar for re-thinking sites of wreckage. During these return trips, the site of wreckage becomes the very material from which to trace the faint contours of another possible time.

candle #4 (until finding the source of the water)
Zeynep Kayan and Özgür Atlagan, 2017-2019

“‘Any activity, if done in a concentrated fashion, makes one more awake […]’ wrote Fromm. candle #4 is maybe an exercise in staying awake, staying awake with each other, or to listening to each other. An act of patience; breathing in and blowing out. Breath in blow out light the candle up, breath in blow out light it up, breath in and blow the candle out and light the candle up, and breathinblowoutlightitup, and then brthnblwtlght it up. The video is one of several in which the act of lighting-it-up-and-blowing-it-out is executed through different choreographies. This act later shifts into a performance for which we stood in a simple structure covered with black cloth, making our hands visible to the audience through a window cut in the cloth. In front of the structure there lay a piece of cloth, which read ‘until finding the source of the water.’ breathinblowoutlightitupuntilfindingthesourceofthewater….” —Zeynep Kayan and Özgür Atlagan

Thousands of years before and after
Tiffany Chung, 2012

The Dust Bowl, which displaced farmers wandering in immense grasslands, is referenced in the video entitled Thousands of years before and after, which imagines a group of post-apocalyptic, mixed-raced human drifters that wander in a vast plateau, searching for a new dwelling place and a means to survive.

Caspiar
Angela Su, 2017

The video is an interview with a refugee from the island of Caspiar, which sank in 1998. The refugee fled from Caspiar to Hong Kong and makes a living in the city as a domestic helper. The work traces the history and culture of Caspiar and questions the truthfulness of memories. CaspiarIn Search of Lost Time.

I Don’t Want to Be Part of Your Legend
Arahmaiani, 2004

“In this video work I reinterpret the meaning of the Ramayana story of the wayang (shadow puppet) tradition in Java. I critically question the position and role of women (represented by Sinta) in the story. Because in the narration of Javanese culture ‘wayang’ traditions the focus of the story is usually Rama & Rahwana. The two dominant male characters in the story. And Sinta the woman is placed in the position as a ‘rotating trophy’ which contests the two opposing parties. Besides that, Sinta may also be suspected as someone who can betray and who is good at pretending. I then made my own ‘wayang’ Sinta version made from dried teak leaves. It appears fragile and like it can easily break. This reinforces the position of women who are considered weak in the narrative of the traditional Ramayana story. But it also symbolizes the important role of women who are the source of fertility and life. Which is actually very strong!” —Arahmaian

Dessert—Disaster
Alison Nguyen, 2017-2018

A found footage work which compares the parallel cinematic language of dessert commercials with that of disaster porn in the news and on the Internet. The sound, pulled from pedestrian-produced videos of demolitions, disasters and storms, expresses the conditions of the contemporary crowd; its insatiable appetite for destruction and arousal, its inattention, its inability to look away, its anxiety and its ecstasy.

The Lonely Age
Connie Zheng, 2019

The Lonely Age is an experimental, pseudo-documentary film project about seeds and the hope that their existence can offer in an ecologically ravaged world. The story takes place in a dystopian near future that is not so different from the world in which we live today: a world in which mythology and the news feel interchangeable, bio-corporations have privatized all agricultural information, and the air and oceans have become toxic. People begin to hear rumors of magical seeds that have washed up on the shores of California. The seeds are rumored to have curative properties, but they are also said to be sentient and communicative. How do people desperate for salvation re-imagine and negotiate the terms of their survival, and what possibilities exist for us to engage in non-exploitative behavior amidst ecological crisis? Is it possible for us to imagine an escape out of our own conditioning? This work is intended as part of a longer, three-part film (currently in progress) rooted in explorations of the potentialities offered by collective fantasizing, the romance of the apocalyptic narrative, and whether or not our current environmental crisis can push us to imagine more equitable ways of living and relating to one another.” —Connie Zheng

Glad I made it on time
Phan Anh, 2018

Glad I made it on time gives the audience access to multiple approaches to seeing materials and phenomena through many subjectivities. With his practice of collecting objects, Phan Anh suggests a figure made out of the stones that he collected at the bases of actual stone monuments over the course of 30 days walking in the city of Gwangju—a cairn with over 50,000 hand-written Korean letters (which were the lyrics of popular K-pop songs translated from Korean to Vietnamese and back using Google translate), along with step-by-step video instructions that demonstrate how to create your own monumental cairn. The installation serves as a figurative landmark for Vietnamese youth culture in the age of globalization. The work offers a humorous way to confront the influence of pop culture, which is sometimes referred as a type of soft-power, and how youth, and Vietnamese youth in particular, tend to react to “cultural integration” without having a sense of critical evaluation.

Black Moon
Choi Sai-Ho, 2019

“The reason I made the video for the song Black Moon last year is because 2019 is the 50th anniversary of humans landing on the moon and I want to re-imagine the moon through another perspective with the help of computer animation, to convey the moon in a dynamic way. The visuals of Black Moon include computer graphic footage representing the moon with different effects, such as red building towers simulating urban areas on the moon’s surface and computer-made moon surface close-ups. The editing techniques enlarged, diminished and rotated the visuals, matching the shapes of different objects. At the same time the visuals synchronize the rhythm of the music in certain parts. There is also live footage of performing artists, myself and Jing, and photos and videos of the real moon that I took over the years.” —Choi Sai-Ho

The Troubled Bear and the Palace
Walid Siti, 2019

At the 7,000 ft peak of the Gara mountains in Kurdistan, Iraq, the remains of Saddam’s palace, built in 1989, still stand. 29 years later, in March of 2018, two caged bears were escorted by a group of local media and Kurdish women’s forces to be ceremoniously freed at the helipad adjacent to the palace. Having lived dependently and in captivity throughout its life, the bears struggled to survive in the wild. One vanished while the other was at the mercy of the personnel that guard the telecommunication towers erected at the palace. The surreal juxtaposition of the ​stressed bear​ and the dilapidated palace, set amongst the magnificent mountains, encapsulates the tragedy of the people of this land throughout history, from the time of Gilgamesh to the present.

Metropolis
Chitra Ganesh, 2018

Metropolis alludes to the painting Life Scenes of Master Shantarakshita, in the collection of the Rubin Museum, and Fritz Lang’s 1927 expressionist science fiction film of the same name. I was interested in Shantarakshita’s critical role as a translator of scriptures and an overseer of the construction of Samye, the first Tibetan monastery, after the Buddhist master Padmasambhava cleared the Tibetan plateau of troubling spirits. The narrative is structured as a progression through a series of interlocking environments, starting and ending in deep space and culminating in the apocalyptic resurrection of Maitreya. Here, the future Maitreya appears as a multi-limbed cyborg entity, constructed of hybrid elements invoking Aelita, Queen of Mars; the Futura of Lang’s Metropolis; and bronze sculptures of Maitreya in the Rubin’s collection. I was interested in how the first monastery and the surrounding development of a city from the deep past could offer a gateway of connection to science fiction urban dystopias associated with apocalyptic futures. These dystopias include worlds characterized by stark class divisions, imperialist ambitions and inequitable access to resources, much like our own world, and are featured in Lang’s film and the contemporary science fiction writings of Octavia E. Butler, Philip K. Dick, and Manjula Padmanabhan.” —Chitra Ganesh

Scenarios of Breaking Down a Wall
Zeina Barakeh, 2014

Scenarios of Breaking Down a Wall depicts absurdist plots around scaling walls, overcoming the constraints of the past, transculturalism, migration, economic sanctions, demonstrations, subservience and media hegemony. They draw upon recent and historical events in the Middle East. The main horse character is a postcolonial hybrid subject forged by an encounter with the British Mandate’s mounted military. Some architectural elements point to different histories of conflict, such as in Andalusia, Spain. These include La Mezquita—the Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba—which still retains its architectural elements from the conquests between Muslims and Christians; as well as the Synagogue of Córdoba, which was transformed into a hospital after the expulsion of the Jews in 1492. Different landscapes are based on deserts, bodies of water, or volcanic grounds to symbolize isolation or the potential eruption of conflict.

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