Museum Musings: Painting With Light at the National Gallery Singapore
What exactly is the role of art in society? National Gallery Singapore’s second edition of Painting With Light, the gallery’s festival of international films on art, returns this October to answer exactly that.
Painting with Light will screen over 30 thought-provoking international feature-length and short films in the month-long programme held at the National Gallery Singapore itself, curated to stimulate conversations on the role of art and museums in offering new perspectives to critical issues in society today in tackling important world issues.
This year’s edition will be divided across four sections: Ways of Seeing, which focuses on artists and their interventions in society; Holding Space, which focuses on films on institutions of art and their communities; Special Focus, which draws attention to the reality and experience of displacement; and the Southeast Asian Shorts section.
The festival will open on 5th October with the debut feature of Singapore visual artist John Clang, a film titled Their Remaining Journey, which made its premiere at the 2018 Rotterdam International Film Festival.The film weaves together three different stories: a theatre actress meets an untimely death and awaits reincarnation while her soul is trapped with an unknown family in Singapore; a yoga instructor travels to New York, unable to escape from the memory of a dead-end relationship; and a Singapore immigrant in Taiwan desperately tries to muster the courage to tell his wife of his illness and remorse. Each one lonely and experiencing degrees of personal loss and displacement, Their Remaining Journey then unites them in their shared existence that transcends time and space, life and death.
In the Special Focus section, films screened will include Polish visual artist Artur Żmijewski’s Glimpse (2017) and based-in-Berlin Brazilian visual artist Karim Aïnouz’s , Central Airport THF (2018), each reflecting the nature of the directors’ engagement with the current refugee crisis. Says Ms. Pauline Soh, Painting with Light Festival Programmer: “Żmijewski’s unrelenting take on the refugees’ bleak living conditions, and Aïnouz’s sensitive compositions surfacing their humanity, together bring to light the immense sense of loss but also abiding hope of these displaced peoples. The refugee crisis has ignited fiery debates across the world in recent years; we hope these films can bring about a deeper reflection on such issues as we navigate an uncertain future.”
Besides overtly ‘art’ films, festival goers can also catch screenings of romantic comedy The Tailor (2017) by Vietnamese directors Kay Nguyen and Tran Buu Loc. Described as ‘The Devil Wears Prada set in Vietnam”, this heartwarming film spans 40 years from 1969 – 2017, charting the adventures of a young heiress to the most prestigious couture fashion house in Saigon as she learns to appreciate her culture and heritage, and her race to save the business in the ensuing years by bringing it into the modern age, celebrating the enduring beauty of Vietnamese artistry tempered with the vitality of contemporary Vietnamese commercial cinema.
At selected screenings, post-show dialogues will also be held, with some even featuring some of the filmmakers and artists. Over opening weekend, the Gallery will also be organising a public forum on 6th October with filmmakers Kamila Andini (The Seen and the Unseen) and John Clang, as well as historian Dr Mohamed Effendy as they explore cultural notions of performative spirituality and displacement surfaced in the films.
Says Ms. Suenne Megan Tan, Director for Audience Development and Engagement at the Gallery, and the Festival Director of Painting with Light: “This year, Painting with Light traces the ways in which we are moved by the transformative power in art. Through film, we take a closer look at the challenges of transition, migration and displacement, and the role art plays in shaping new realities in the face of these issues. By harnessing film’s storytelling power, we hope to connect with a wider audience, encourage appreciation for the arts, and to foster a thoughtful and inclusive society.”
Painting With Light: Festival of International Films of Art 2018 runs from 5th – 28th October at the National Gallery Singapore. Tickets and more information available here