Digital ambition: Kuala Lumpur gallery launches month-long video art festival


A video still from Ho Rui An's 'Student Bodies'. Photo: Handout

When the movement control order was implemented in March due to the pandemic, art galleries across the country had to shut their doors to the public.

In the following weeks, many took to virtual options for people to view art from the comfort of their homes.

Kuala Lumpur-based gallery A+ Works Of Art is taking it to another level with an online video art festival to commemorate its third anniversary.

The gallery’s inaugural Online Festival Of Video Art, which runs until Sept 12, will feature works from Ho Rui An, Orawan Arunrak, Chong Kim Chiew, Tan Zi Hao, Truong Que Chi, Ray Langenbach and Au Sow Yee.

In the weeks to follow, four curators - Au, Langenbach, Truong and Marc Gloede - will unveil their selection of video works every Saturday. In total, 23 videos will be shared during this festival.

“We wanted to explore the possibilities of presenting video art as our first online initiative, hoping that the experience would be more satisfying for our audiences, than, for example, a viewing room of paintings that you can’t actually see in person," says Joshua Lim, founder of A+ Works Of Art.

"Although online viewing rooms of paintings still offer a lot of information for audiences, these works really need to be experienced in person. A lot of video art is not exactly made specifically for online viewing either, but in many instances, viewing it online is not a bad compromise, ” he adds.

A still from Chumpon Apisuk's 'I Have Dreams'. Photo: HandoutA still from Chumpon Apisuk's 'I Have Dreams'. Photo: Handout

Lim notes that the Online Festival Of Video Art's focus is presenting works to be viewed online. It is not an attempt to capture or recreate a video installation experience.

“One of our main aims is to promote video art. The practice has been around for a while, but the audience for it is still relatively small, especially in Malaysia, even within the arts community.

"This is a pilot project, so we hope to learn from it and develop it further. It is important for us that everyone involved enjoys the process, from curators to artists to audiences. We also hope collectors who may not typically think about acquiring video art will shift their attitudes and be more open to supporting this practice, ” he says.

This festival doesn’t have an overarching theme; instead, each curator is entrusted to come up with their own video selections and themes.

Between States, curated by Au, is an online video programme consisting two works by Taiwanese artists Posak Jodian and Wu Chi-Yu. She describes it as a “dialectical scenario” which takes as a point of departure the encounter of air and water, and further explores questions of borders and maps.

A still from Chong Kim Chiew's 'Skin Time'. Photo: HandoutA still from Chong Kim Chiew's 'Skin Time'. Photo: Handout

“It is a ‘contact zone’, where Posak’s poetic essay Lakec and Wu's politically charged Asia Air come into contact and serve not only as the respective indication of the past, present and future, but also as an index for each other’s contexts, ” says Au, who is based in Taipei.

Between States runs until Aug 22.

On Aug 15, the KL-based Langenbach will present his selection, featuring works by Chumpon Apisuk, Lucy Davis, Noor Abed, Pekka Niskanen and Sasa Rajsic in Mobility-Death-Mobility. He zooms in on the pandemic, noting that it reminds us that we have “feet of clay and live in permeable membranes”.

“By stripping away our mobility and bio-exceptionalism, the pandemic lays bare class, race, nationalism, chauvinism, developmentalism and teleology. Species-awareness, planet awareness and our responsibility for climate change now come into sharp focus," says Lagenbach.

"I used to hope that my generation would somehow avoid death; I now accept that no one gets out of life alive, and that our global culling is largely self-inflicted. Covid-19 is both our means and method,” he adds.

Truong’s curated segment, launching Aug 22, will feature videos from Vietnamese artists Do Van Hoang, Truong Cong Tung, Quynh Dong, Pham Ngoc Lan and Thao Nguyen Phan.

A video still from Au Sow Yee's work 'Pak Tai Foto'. Photo: HandoutA video still from Au Sow Yee's work 'Pak Tai Foto'. Photo: Handout

Titled A Reply To ‘All My Life’, this compilation touches on themes, images and metaphors revolving around lonely men in the sunset, a man crawling back and forth along a shallow body of water that overlooks the rising city, revisiting a second home through computer and phone screens, maple leaves in autumn and the four lives of a river.

Lastly, the festival will wrap up with Gloede’s selection, Coming To Terms With .... A Revisit Of Kray Chen’s Video Works Under Different Circumstances on Aug 29.

Four of Chen’s works will be highlighted here.

“We all are facing a situation in which a pandemic has changed almost all aspects of life and we need to reflect upon it. The questions that have grown for me over the last months are: How do/can we speak about these fears? How can we begin to see them as a common ground on which we are gathered? Which works would offer a renegotiation of our daily experiences or our anxieties about getting infected, losing our jobs, our friends, and families?" says Gloede.

"Following these questions and thinking of the art that has addressed these specific aspects somehow led me back to some of Kray Chen’s works which I have continuously seen over the last few years. Obviously, they were not created as a direct result of Covid-19. But even though these works were not conceived in relation to the reality of a pandemic, for me, they address some of the above-mentioned emotions.”

For Gloede, Chen’s video works have become an interesting experience to rewatch during the lockdown as they “gained a new actuality, a new relevance" in the last few months.

Also in conjunction with A+ Works Of Art’s anniversary, two other events will be launched in August.

Last weekend, Ready But Postponed Or Cancelled was launched in the gallery itself. This exhibition features works that were supposed to be featured in exhibitions this year that were either postponed or cancelled.

On Aug 15, Figure-proof, an online-online exhibition featuring works by five young artists from the Philippines, will go live. This show is curated by Carlos Quijon Jr.

A+ Works Of Art is located at d6-G8, d6 Trade Centre, 801 Jalan Sentul, Kuala Lumpur. Visits are by appointment only at the moment. Opening hours: 12pm to 7 pm (Tuesday to Saturday). Closed on Sundays, Mondays and public holidays. More info here.

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