On the occasion of Shireen Seno’s first solo exhibition in Europe at the DAAD gallery I was honoured to join the Shireen to about her practice and works featured in the exhibition in her artist talk at the opening, 5 April 2023.
Filmmaker and artist Shireen Seno’s work explores relationships in all their complexity and intricacies: within the family, to political relationships, to media and technology, between different species and ecosystems. Through a politics of attention and remarkable sensitivity, Seno creates a space for repressed narratives, often set against the backdrop of Philippine colonial history and diaspora life. In doing so, her practice takes her to archives as well as to Candaba, a wetland near Manila where migratory birds settle halfway along the East Asian–Australasian Flyway. She encounters the world with a keen awareness of the malleability of images and a deep distrust of overly linear narratives.
The exhibition brought together works from the last four years: the 17-channel video installation A child dies, a child plays…, the film essay To Pick a Flower, new photographs and a sequel to her image essay Trunks.
I also very pleased to have been able to contribute a short text for the 2022 Berliner Künstlerprogramm DAAD Yearbook on Seno’s work.
SPEAKING NEARBY: PLAYING THE ARCHIVE 10 September 2022 Open City Documentary Festival, London Workshop with George Clark, Linh Hà and the An Viet Foundation archive
A speaking that does not objectify, does not point to an object as if it is distant from the speaking subject or absent from the speaking place. A speaking that reflects on itself and can come very close to a subject without, however, seizing or claiming it. – Trinh T. Minh-ha, “Speaking Nearby”, Visual Anthropology Review, Spring 1992
Speaking Nearby aims to explore experimental ways of work and play with artists and archives. Rooted in an expanded idea of “archives”, Speaking Nearby draws on Trinh T. Minh-Ha’s concept in order to explore the means of articulating memories from the personal to collective and proposing new ways to care for history. The workshop – following first in Hanoi, 25 June 2022 – is part of a long-term project developed through a growing circle of artists building bridges between different collections and communities to propose new and experimental approaches to archival and cinematic imaginaries.
Initiated by London based artist George Clark, the project seeks to explore two distinct collections: the Vietnam Film Institute (VFI) in Hanoi and the An Viet Foundation (AVF) in Hackney, which holds the largest known collection related to the Vietnamese-British community in the UK. This session will include a deep listening workshop led by musician Linh Hà, screening of work-in-progress films made by George Clark and contribution from cultural producer and community activist Cường Phạm on the emerging An Viet Foundation archive. Together we will explore ways of playing with the archive – with a focus on notions of sound, collaboration and resonance – through which we can begin to speak with these complex histories, institutions and archival objects.