The project’s speculative curatorial method proposes a way of conceptualising the regional, cinematic, enunciative and relational characteristics of Southeast Asian artists’ moving image. The components of this output together articulate a definition of Southeast Asian artists’ moving image as an animistic medium of enworlding and expression, and as a temporally heterogenous aesthetics, whose mode of enunciation implies an ecological conception of human sociality with, and precarious relations to, powerful historical and cosmological forces in more-than-human worlds.
Ingawanij’s project develops a de-westernised and interdisciplinary approach for theorising cinematic ontology, apparatus and heterogeneity. The project reframes the foundational disciplinary question about what cinema is – that cinema is animistic or that there is an affinity between cinema and animism – by constellating Southeast Asia’s genealogies of animism, film projection rituals and artists’ moving image. Relating contemporary works with Southeast Asian animistic apparatus of human-spirit address becomes a way to think about the performativity of enunciation, along with the regionality and contemporaneity, of Southeast Asian artists’ moving image.
The project moves away from the existing mobilisation of the notion of animism in film theoretical and curatorial discourse, and in the process extends the conceptual scope of the key ideas of enunciation, agency and relationality in these fields. It does so mainly through developing a mode of creative inquiry drawing new connections with anthropological works on animism in Southeast Asia. Ingawanij’s project proposes an affinity between artists’ moving image and animistic practices, constellating these as communicational, ritual and aesthetic practices emblematic of the agency of precarious humans to enhance life’s possibility, to make relationships and affirm bonds of sociality across times and beings, within an ecology of existence in which they are powerless.
Experimenting with constellating artists’ moving image, animism and Southeast Asia, via a curatorial approach that emphasises speculation over canonisation, Animistic Apparatus proposes a reflexive, small-scale yet conceptually expansive model for presenting and for thinking with Southeast Asian artistic works, when compared to the presentation of animism in institutional survey exhibitions of Southeast Asian or Asian contemporary art. The project’s method also advocates the creative labour of generating a poetic language of engagement with, and a strategy of exhibition of contemporary Southeast Asian artists’ moving image, which is more fully attuned with the fragmentary, elliptical, ecological and temporally heterogeneous qualities of the works.
Furthermore, Animistic Apparatus has contributed to the development of a reflexive method of moving image and artistic research guided by rigorous engagement and collaboration with rural groups and sites. The project demonstrates a way of curating a research-led cinematic arts events, involving an expanded and locally entangled praxis of cinema, which bypasses the metropolis, relies less on the convention of using spectacular art and cultural events to attract tourism, and departs from the convention of establishing a local node in global contemporary art through the model of the touring exhibition. In the UK, the project has enhanced BFMAF’s aim of featuring global south artists’ works through rigorously and creatively curated programmes attentive to its physical locale and its institutional context as a small-scale, rural, yet agenda-making festival of artists’ moving images. Animistic Apparatus featured prominently in substantial reviews of the festival’s 15th edition. In Thailand, collaborating with Noir Row Art Space on the field learning and artistic research activities contributed to the formation of an ecology for contemporary art in the country’s northeastern region, one shaped by artists-run and not-for-profit groups.
Within this REF period, Ingawanij has been invited to deliver many international keynotes, talks and classes based on the Animistic Apparatus project. Artists who draw on her research to inform their practice include Korakrit Arunanondchai. Ingawanij was invited to contribute a catalogue essay, 'Ghost Cinema for a Damaged World', published in 2020, for the exhibition No History in a Room Filled with People with Funny Names 5 (Arunanondchai and Alex Gvojic, November 2020 – April 2021) at Serralves Foundation Museum of Contemporary Art, Portugal. Beyond this REF period, talk invitations based on Ingawanij’s research project includes an online seminar for MoMA’s C-MAP initiative on Southeast Asian art (March 2021).
Based on the success of the exhibition and the strength of the collaborative relationship, Ingawanij has since been appointed as a member of the board of trustees of BFMAF. Animistic Apparatus’s multifaceted curatorial activities have helped to establish a network of artists, writers, and curators across Southeast Asia and beyond.
Ingawanij won the British Academy Mid-career Fellowship to study Southeast Asian artists’ moving image within a dewesternised framework attentive to regional genealogies of medial and ritual forms. At BFMAF, Ingawanij and collaborators enacted the exhibition form as provocation: What if contemporary film exhibitions were reimagined as if they were rituals offered and addressed to nonhuman beings? The exhibition presented works by Davis, Weerasethakul, Diaz, Chong, and Tanatchai Bandasak as site-based installations and film projection ritual, staged as an encounter between the artists’ works and the open-air sites and spaces of historical sedimentation of Berwick-upon-Tweed.
|Portfolio items||Animistic Apparatus @ Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival|
|Comedy of Entanglement: The Karrabing Film Collective|
|Animistic Apparatus: Screening|
|Animistic Apparatus screening programmes: Mud, Drones and Spirits; Between the Living and the Dead|
|Animistic Apparatus screening programme: Landscape of Spirits|
|Stories of Animistic Cinema|
|Ghost Cinema for a Damaged World|
|Publisher||University of Westminster|
|Web address (URL)||https://mayadadol.info/|
|Keywords||Southeast Asian contemporary art, artists' moving image, animism|
|Funder||BA (British Academy)|
|Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF)|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI)||https://doi.org/10.34737/qy152|