Session #8: About The Island, curated by George Clark

Photo © 2015 George Clark

Tuesday 28 March 2017

Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD

2:00-5:00 | [Free event: Book here]

Sea of Clouds / 雲海

George Clark, UK / Taiwan, 2016, 16mm film transferred to DCP, sound, colour, 16min, dialogue in Mandarin & English

The Pursuit of What Was/物的追尋

Ya-Li Huang, Taiwan, 2008, digital, sound, colour, 22 min

The Boat-Burning Festival / 王船的祭典

Chang Chao-Tang, Taiwan, 1979, 16mm transferred to video, sound, colour, 20 min

Spanning the Tropic of Cancer, the island of Taiwan is located south of Japan with the East China Sea to the north, the Philippine Sea to the east, the Luzon Strait directly to the south and the South China Sea to the southwest. The history of the island can be read in its complex landscapes. Filmed across central Taiwan Sea of Clouds / 雲海 approaches landscape as a contested terrain marked by changing histories of interpretation and occupation. The film is structured around an interview with contemporary artist Chen Chieh-jen. In order to describe the approach to his work, Chen recalls the tradition of using screenings as a means of covert political assembly during the Japanese colonial period. In bringing these materials together the film attempts to map the contours, slippages and broader resonances within the mountain landscapes in order to find ways into the complex history of labour, colonisation and cinema in Taiwan.

For this screening artist George Clark will present and discuss his film as part of his broader research into Taiwanese politics and moving image culture. The illustrated talk will range from the Japanese colonial period to the avant-garde journal Theatre Quarterly and the work of artists such as Chen Chieh-jen and Kao Chung-li, ethnographer Hu Tai-Li and independent filmmaker Huang Ming-chuan.

The talk will include rare screening of Chang Chao-Tang’s The Boat-Burning Festival / 王船的祭典 (1979) and conclude with the film The Pursuit of What Was / 物的追尋 (2008) by Ya-Li Huang (director of Le Moulin). Ya-Li Huang will join George Clark and take part in a discussion on cinema in Taiwan chaired by researcher and curator Julian Ross.

George Clark is an artist and curator from the UK. His solo exhibition A Planter’s Art featured new film works and garden installation at Soulangh Cultural Park, Tainan, June-July 2016. Recent works include his feature film A Distant Echo which premiered in competition at Jihlava Film Festival 2016 and his short film Sea of Clouds / 雲海 (2016) made in Taiwan and structured around interview with the artist Chen Chieh-jen. Prior to this he collaborated with various artists including Luke Fowler and Beatrice Gibson. His curatorial projects have focused on expanding the histories of film and video practice globally. Through his work at Tate Modern (2013-2015), and in independent projects, he has explored histories of expanded cinema, ethnographic film and artists film across the Asia Pacific region and curated retrospectives of Ute Aurand, Julian Dashper, Lav Diaz, Camille Henrot, Luis Ospina, Chick Strand and thematic surveys of the L.A. Rebellion and Japanese Expanded Cinema among other projects.

Julian Ross is a Leverhulme postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Westminster. He holds a PhD on 1960-70s Japanese expanded cinema at the University of Leeds, which has led to curatorial projects at Tate Modern, Eye Film Institute, BFI, Art Institute Chicago and BOZAR. He is a Programmer at International Film Festival Rotterdam.

Huang Ya-Li is an independent filmmaker in Taiwan, who is interested in the linkage between and extension of images and sounds. In recent years, he has been involved in documentaries concerning Taiwan during these Japanese colonial period, hoping to explore the possibility of interpreting reality in the form of documentaries through historical research and examination, and to reflect on the relationship between Taiwan, Asia, and the world. His experimental works include The Unnamed (2010) and The Pursuit of What Was (2008). Le Moulin (2015) is his first feature film.