Chia-Wei Hsu’s Huai Mo Village + Ruins of the Intelligence Bureau: A Screening and Discussion
Thursday, November 1, 2018
Asia Art Archive in America
Video documentation by Asia Art Archive in America
A screening of Chia-Wei Hsu’s Huai Mo Village (2012, single-channel video, 8’20”), and Ruins of the Intelligence Bureau (2015, single-channel video, 13’30”), followed by a conversation with the artist moderated by curator and critic Christopher Phillips. Their discussion touches on the artist’s exploration of filmmaking as a performance art and Taiwan’s complex relationship with other countries in the region.
Huai Mo Village takes place in an orphanage in Chiang Rai, Thailand and tells the true story of a troop of Chinese Nationalist soldiers who retreated to the border regions between Thailand and Myanmar at the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1950. In this film, the founder of the orphanage, who is a pastor and former intelligence officer, recalls the plight of these homeless, stateless soldiers who remained in Thailand rather than return to China or join the Nationalists in Taiwan
The pastor appears again in a second film, Ruins of the Intelligence Bureau, to expand on the story he began in Huai Mo Village. Set in the remains of the demolished Intelligence Bureau, this film features a performance of a traditional Thai puppet show. Narrating the performance is the pastor, who recalls personal memories and recounts the legend of Hanuman—a monkey general who leads his troop to battle and helps a prince return to the kingdom from which he was exiled.
HSU Chia-Wei (b. 1983, lives and works in Taipei) is interested in the untold histories of the Cold War in Asia. His work often takes the form of films and installations, weave together reality and myth, the past and the present. Hsu’s work has been presented in many museums, including Van Abbemuseum, the Centre Pompidou, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, and Reina Sofia National Museum. A Hugo Boss Asia Art Award finalist in 2012 and the Grand Prize winner of the 2017 Taishin Arts Award—a major accolade for artists in Taiwan, Hsu has also been included in many biennials and festivals, such as the 39th International Film Festival Rotterdam, the 2012 Liverpool Biennial, the 2018 Sydney Biennial and Gwungju Biennial. He will also participate in the upcoming Shanghai Biennale.
Christopher Phillips is an independent curator and critic. From 2000 to 2016 he worked as a curator at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York. He has organized many exhibitions that explore modernist photography of the early 20th century as well as contemporary Asian photography and media art, including ”Heavy Light: Recent Photography and Video from Japan” (with Noriko Fuku, 2008); “Wang Qingsong: When Worlds Collide” (2011); “Han Youngsoo: Photographs of Seoul 1956-63” (2016); and “Life and Dreams: Contemporary Chinese Photography” (2018). His books include Photography in the Modern Era: European Documents and Critical Writings, 1913-1940 (1989), Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China (with Wu Hung, 2004), and Life and Dreams: Contemporary Chinese Photography and Media Art (with Wu Hung, 2018). He teaches in the Photography and Imaging Department at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Image caption: Chia-Wei HSU, Huai Mo Village, single channel video, 8 minutes 20 seconds, 2012. Courtesy of the artist.