Discussion with Stephanie Comilang (via Skype), Ingrid Pui Yee Chu (Asia Art Archive), and Jennifer Davis (Rear View Projects) following a screening of Lumapit Sa Akin, Paraiso (Come to Me, Paradise).
Lumapit Sa Akin, Paraiso (Come to Me, Paradise) is a science fiction documentary by Stephanie Comilang that uses the backdrop of Hong Kong and the various ways in which Filipina migrant workers occupy its downtown Central district on Sundays. The film is narrated from the perspective of Paraiso, a ghost played by a drone who speaks of the isolation from being uprooted and thrown into a new place. Paraiso’s reprieve comes when she is finally able to interact with the women and feel her purpose, which is to transmit their vlogs, photos, and messages back home. During the week she is forced back into isolation and is left in an existential rut.
On Sundays, Central becomes a pivotal place for Paraiso and the three protagonists as thousands of these workers congregate to create a space of female care-giving, away from their employers’ homes where they live and work full time. From early morning to night, the women occupy and transform sites normally used for finance and banking into female care-giving spaces where they relax over food, drinks, manicures, prayer, and dance. Only when the women gather en masse is the signal strong enough to summon Paraiso to them for download.
Lumapit Sa Akin, Paraiso was produced for Rear View’s recent exhibition in Hong Kong, How To Make Space (Tings Chak, Stephanie Comilang, and Devora Neumark). The exhibition considered the spatial relationship between Migrant Domestic Workers within the particular environment of Hong Kong and the resulting affects and tactics that are produced. Lumapit Sa Akin, Paraiso was made with the support of the Ontario Arts Council; How to Make Space was presented by apexart’s Franchise program and supported by the Graham Foundation (Chicago).
This program was co-organized by apexart and Asia Art Archive in America.
Stephanie Comilang is a Filipina-Canadian, documentary-based filmmaker. She studied fine arts and media at the Ontario College of Art and Design. Her practice involves collaboration and interviews, as well as cultural diaspora. Comilang’s documentary work includes Children of the King, about children of Elvis impersonators, and Flirting: Kyoto, about flirting practices in Kyoto, Japan, which was made in residence at the Kyoto Art Centre. Her works have been screened internationally at film festivals and art institutions, including the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, the Reel Asian Film Festival, and the Banff Centre.
Ingrid Pui Yee Chu is Public Programs Curator at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong. A Bard College Center for Curatorial Studies graduate, she has experience leading international museums and non-profit art organizations, and in 2008 co-founded the non-profit commissioning organization Forever & Today, Inc. with fellow Co-Director & Curator Savannah Gorton in New York. Her writing has appeared in Afterall, Fillip, frieze, Kaleidoscope / Kaleidoscope Asia, Performa Magazine, TimeOut New York, Walker Art Center Magazine, and Yishu among other international print and online publications, and in 2012 she was a Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program Art Writing Workshop participant. Chu is currently co-organizing a program on independent art publishing with Kit Hammonds as part of the 2016 Taipei Biennial, Gestures and Archives of the Present, Genealogies of the Future (Dec. 10–11).
Rear View (Projects) is Jennifer Davis, an architect, and Su-Ying Lee, a contemporary art curator. Both a curatorial collective and an itinerant site for art, they experiment with unconventional platforms to mobilize new interactions between art, place, and audiences. Recent exhibitions include Flipping Properties, an installation commissioned for a Toronto Laneway designed by architect Jimenez Lai with Bureau Spectacular.
Jennifer Davis practices architecture and independent curating in Toronto, Canada. Her projects investigate the political and social factors that shape the built environment. Davis graduated with a Master of Architecture (2011) from the University of Toronto and participated in Independent Curators International’s curatorial intensive program entitled Curating Beyond Exhibition Making (2012). In the field of architecture, she has received numerous awards including the Power Corporation of Canada Award (2010) from the Canadian Centre for Architecture, and has contributed to publications such as Edge Condition (UK) and Canadian Architect. Davis’s exhibition-making experience includes positions such as Exhibition Development Assistant for the Canada Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 53rd International Art Exhibition, 2009. She provided architectural consultation and programming for TBD, the Fall 2014 show at the Museum for Contemporary Canadian Art curated by Su-Ying Lee.
Su-Ying Lee is an independent curator whose projects often take place outside of the traditional gallery platform. Lee is interested in employing the role of curator as a co-conspirator, accomplice and active agent. She has also worked institutionally, including positions as Assistant Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) and Art Gallery of Mississauga, and Curator-in-Residence at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery. Recent projects include Céline Condorelli’s (UK) The Company We Keep (2013-2014), an installation at the University of Toronto’s Hart House, and Your Disease, Our Delicacy (cuitlachoche), a year long (2012-2013) residency and garden installation at Hart House by Ron Benner (CA). Currently touring across Canada, the project Video Store, begun in 2010 (co-curated with Suzanne Carte), gives audiences unprecedented access to artists’ videos requesting only a pay-what-you-want ‘rental’ fee. Lee’s exhibition titled TBD (Sep 6-Oct 26, 2014), at MOCCA, was begun as an inquiry into the definition of a museum/contemporary art gallery.
Video caption: Stephanie Comilang, Lumapit Sa Akin, Paraiso (Come to Me, Paradise), 2016, 25:46. Music: Why Be, Sky H1, Elysia Crampton / Cinematographer: Iris Ng
This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.