Alternating Waves: Imaging the Archive, The Outpost 24 Nov – 10 December 2023

The Outpost & Á Space, Hanoi, Vietnam
24 November – 10 December 2023

Nhà Sàn Collective, with The Outpost Art Organisation and Á Space, presented a program of discussions, as a part of Well Settled project with An Việt Archive. Come to meet Hanoi based artists, curators, architects, to experience artistic documentation and explore artistic experimentation in moving image works, performance art and architecture, and their relations to archives. The program consists of four events in two different locations, during the last two months in 2023 in Hanoi.

The presentations include screening of my film ‘The Scattered Body or A World Unclouded by Dust together with other works by Moi Tran, and Nhà Sàn Collective and friends realised during the Well Settled project.

Curator talk with Nguyễn Quốc Thành at The Outpost
Installation shot The Scattered Body or A World Unclouded by Dust (George Clark, 2023) at The Outpost


#ALTERNATING WAVES, a talk with curator Nguyễn Quốc Thành
Friday 24 Nov, The Outpost

A discussion about new video and sound works by George Clark, Moi Tran, and Nhà Sàn Collective and their friends. Dances and systems of archives. A voice and waves. A music composition, a visual channel. The artworks propose to engage with archives through moving image and sound. But shifting from physical materiality into electronic waves, are there boundaries between archives and art?

#IN : ACT 2023, a proposal of performance art from curator Vũ Đức Toàn, with other participating artists
Saturday 25 Nov, Á Space

The proposal starts with the question on the conventional form of performance art, whereas the body is considered both as material and medium. Having said that, based on a long-standing local understanding of the embodiment of both physical life form and the soul in one body, could the body already have an inherent capacity for archiving?

#A BODY, AN ARCHIVE: a talk with artist/curator Vũ Đức Toàn
Sunday: 3 Dec 2023, The Outpost

Questions about the body and body language initiated Vu Duc Toan’s proposal, challenging the notion of actions that are still considered critical in performance art. When a performance begins, it unfolds in front of the audience a scene that encompasses not only actions but also bodies: the artist, space, spectators, objects, and the intangible entities stemming from performance acts. If the body is also a repository, then where, how, and what kind of records do artists or viewers can access? The physicality of the body, the performance act itself, or the camera recording it, which of these holds the archive?

#Space of architecture, space of archive: talk with architect Mai Hưng Trung, Hanoi Ad Hoc
Sunday, 10 Dec 2023, The Outpost

Cheap motel rooms are designed to look like family bedrooms. Daring expansions in socialist housing complexes. Re-imagination of villager identity and communal living in an urban setting. The project “Hanoi Ad Hoc 2.0 // Dwelling in the Flow” is concerned with creative adaptation and open-mindedness, transformations regarding forms, programs, and cultures occurring within the heart of Hanoi. Somewhere in the continuously evolving living spaces, individual and collective memories are preserved. Could it be that these adaptations and customization themselves are lines of archive data?

About the project
Commissioned by An Việt Archive – the largest known British-Vietnamese community archive in the UK, the project proposes to explore the archive through the medium of moving image and sound. This approach suggests the experience of physical materials such as printed matters, books, and objects located in An Viet as a shift into an electronic realm. The commissioned artworks present archives as materials that need to be taken apart, felt by touch, presence to be known through bodies and space. Objects, living spaces, bodies, and body movements are the objects of the recording camera, transformed into symbols and sounds. They too are forms of living archives, already existing systems of memory. This two-way and parallel shift occurs between archive and art practices.

In Vietnam, the program is organized to present new directions in artistic practices of George Clark, Moi Tran, Nhà Sàn Collective and friends, through discussions with artists/curators Nguyễn Quốc Thành, Vũ Đức Toàn and architect Mai Hưng Trung. A part of the project is a broadcast commission ‘Amplifying Archives’ by Cường Minh Bá Phạm, Trà My Hickin, Koa Phạm, Stefan Nielsen, Nic Annette Miller, and Thierry Phung, as result of a larger year-long project to develop new tools for accessing, activating and sharing the collection and shared heritage.

In the UK, ‘Well Settled‘, a parallel exhibition is taking place in Lux Moving Image, London, 4 November – 16 December 2023.

The projects are commissioned by An Việt Archives, supported by the British Council as part of the UK/Vietnam Season 2023 and Hackney Archives, LUX, The Outpost, Nhà Sàn Collective, Á Space and the University of Westminster. Changing Waves program is part of the UK/Vietnam Season 2023 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relationships between Vietnam and the UK, and the 30th anniversary of the British Council in Vietnam.

‘Well Settled’ opens at LUX, 4 Nov – 16 December

LUX, London
4 November – 16 December 2023
Well Settled Exhibition with Nhà Sàn Collective, Moi Tran, George Clark and Lưu Chữ
18 December ‘Amplifying Archives’ launch with Cường Minh Bá Phạm, Trà My Hickin, Koa Phạm, Stefan Nielsen, Nic Anette Miller and Thierry Phung

Well Settled is an exhibition of new commissioned works responding to the An Việt Archives presented as part of the British Council UK/Vietnam Season 2023. The exhibition presented a series of commissioned works from artists in both the UK and Vietnam, proposing new models for how archives and shared heritage can be activated and made accessible. The exhibition features new works from Nhà Sàn Collective, Moi Tran, George Clark and Lưu Chữ presented for the first time and launch of new audio project Amplifying Archives.

Well Settled opening 4th November 2023
Installation shot The Scattered Body or A World Unclouded by Dust (George Clark, 2023)

The exhibition featured by film ‘The Scattered Body or A World Unclouded by Dust’ explores fragmented histories and the invisible work to care for archival objects from a Vietnamese community archive in Hackney to a state film archive in Hanoi. Moving through the archives and their systems of care, the body is both a material and medium to explore the multiple lives of archival objects, the spaces that contain them and the ecstatic labour that sustains them. 

The film was shown alongside two new works: Nhà Sàn Collective‘s Night of the 30th / Đêm Ba Mươia a new moving image work filmed at the residence of Mr. Manh Duc, a home in close proximity to the collective and their community of artist friends for many years. In thise playground, a mystical world emerges; a cinema is reenacted. As the film unfolds, a river, a garden, spirits, wooden structures, people and, objects appear, dissolve and reappear, as if they were characters morphing into one another. The film draws attention to cinematic transformation of physical and immaterial beings as a process of experiencing diverse forms of archives. Moi Tran’s new experiment ‘The Lost Buffalo and Sister Imposter’ that ‘exercises a process of analogue encoding / decoding to conjure up drawings, text, microfilm documents and visual scores for sonic improvisation in a constellation of speculative communication. The experiment is situated at the interface of communication and ‘information repository systems’ that is found in all sites of information storage and transmission, whether that be an archive, an image, a song, a text, a conversation, a code.

These new works are part of a larger year-long project to develop new tools for accessing, activating and sharing the collection and shared heritage. A parallel exhibition will be presented in Vietnam at The Outpost, Hanoi, 24 November – 17 December 2023.

Well Settled opening 4th November 2023
‘Night of the 30th’ (2023) by Nhà Sàn Collective, Well Settled, LUX
‘The Lost Buffalo and Sister Imposter II’ (2023) by Moi Tran Encoded Text Paintings, Well Settled, LUX
‘Books from the South East Asian Research Centre, An Viet Library by George Clark, Well Settled, LUX
An Việt banner by Lưu Chữ at Well Settled opening 4th November 2023, LUX

Background to exhibition

In 2021, Hackney Archives and the Hackney Chinese Community Services received a grant from the National Archives, enabling them to rescue the An Việt Archives – the largest known British Vietnamese community archive in the UK which was almost lost when their former building in Hackney was squatted. The historical documents were created by the An Viet Foundation (AVF), which was set up in Hackney in 1981 to support Vietnamese settlement in London after the Second Indochina War. It was a central hub for Vietnamese families providing support with housing, health outreach, English language, and mother tongue classes.

On 18 November the broadcast commission ‘Amplifying Archives’ by Cường Minh Bá Phạm, Trà My Hickin, Koa Phạm, Stefan Nielsen, Nic Anette Miller and Thierry Phung will be launched at our listening party.

The projects have been commissioned by An Việt Archives, supported by the British Council as part of the UK/Vietnam Season 2023 and Hackney Archives, LUX, Nhà Sàn Collective, The Outpost, Á Space and the University of Westminster.

Sea of Clouds at Badischer Kunstverein, Germany, Oct-Dec 2023

Das Land denen
George Clark, Jörg Gfrörer & Wolfgang Jung & Walter Krieg, Elke Marhöfer, Marta Rodríguez & Jorge Silva, Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca
5 October 2023 to 3 December 2023
Badischer Kunstverein, Germany

My film Sea of Clouds / 雲海  (2016) was featuring in the exhibition Das Land denen curated by Florian Wüst at Badischer Kunstverein

The exhibition Das Land denen presents five documentary and artistic films in the atrium of the Badischer Kunstverein as well as at the intercultural project space COLA TAXI OKAY, all of which deal with the social, economic and ecological conditions of farming in a variety of ways. The selection of international films also addresses struggles around land rights and decolonization, and reflects upon image politics and narratives that are inscribed in landscapes and farming traditions, as well as in the film medium.
Die Enteignung by Jörg Gfrörer, Wolfgang Jung and Walter Krieg, produced in 1975 at the German Film and Television Academy Berlin (dffb), explores the impact of the industrialization of agriculture on part-time farmers in northern Germany who become dependent upon large-scale farms and food corporations. The extreme health hazards to which the workers of the Colombian flower industry are exposed are thematized in the second historical film, Marta Rodríguez’ and Jorge Silva’s Amor, mujeres y flores (1989). The new film by Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca, Fala da Terra (2022), screened on 11. November at COLA TAXI OKAY, features the theatre ensemble Coletivo Banzeiros founded by members of Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement (MST). They highlight the power of collective resistance to the exploitation of nature and human beings.

Also focusing on practices of self-organization is George Clark’s film Sea of Clouds /  雲海  (2016), which investigates the relationship between Taiwan’s landscape and its history, using the reference to the clandestine use of rural cinema screenings. In her artistic work, Elke Marhöfer pursues an affective approach to the topic of species extinction. In Becoming Extinct (Wild Grass) of 2017, Marhöfer’s camera explores the vegetation found in the steppes of southern Russia in order to conceive a future characterized by an inclusive relationship between humanity and the natural world.

– Florian Wüst

Kamapala Through The Forbidden Scenes – Film Undone: Elements of a Latent Cinema, Berlin, July 2023

Film Undone: Elements of a Latent Cinema
silent green – Kulturquartier & Berlin Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst, Berlin
20-23 July 2023

Presented new video essay as part of expanded presentation developed with Bunga Siagian and Akbar Yumni for the Film Undone: Elements of a Latent Cinema symposium at silent green in Berlin.

Film Undone. Elements of a Latent Cinema gathers artists, filmmakers, curators, researchers, and archivists to present and discuss elements of a latent cinema: Film projects left unfinished. Films that remained unseen. Film ideas realized in non-filmic media. Their heterogenous materialities and precarious traces upset notions of what cinema consists of – its materials, institutions, and professions, its socio-political functions, histories, and futures.
“Film Undone. Elements of a Latent Cinema”. 20-23 Juli 2023, Berlin. Silent Green, Kino Arsenal. © Film Undone, Photo by Gianmarco Bresadola

In 1962 Bachtiar Siagian submitted to the Balinese Historical Council the concept for a film to be called…KARMAPALA

He had begun work on the film with support of the governor of Bali and of President Sukarno. As Krishna Sen describes ‘Karmapala is about the making of a revolutionary.’  It was to be his most ambitious film to date. He was arrested in October 1965 and the film was left unfinished until his death in March 2002. In Hinduism ‘Karma phala’ refers to the fruits of a person’s actions that can influence their next life.In the year of Bachtiar‘s death, Karmapala was reborn as a ‘cinetron’  TV series. While bearing the same name, it is far from his revolutionary ambitions.

But some say the past life of the film can be detected in these six forbidden scenes….

Karmapala: Through The Forbidden Scenes (Bunga Siagian and George Clark, 2023)
“Film Undone. Elements of a Latent Cinema”. 20-23 Juli 2023, Berlin. Silent Green, Kino Arsenal.
© Film Undone, Photo by Gianmarco Bresadola

Karmapala Through the Forbidden Scenes is a speculative investigation of an unmade film by Bachtiar Siagian, imagined in dialogue with archival fragments of his lost film Daerah Hilang (1956), which was heavily censored by the Indonesian government for its social critique. Bunga Siagian, Akbar Yumni, and George Clark will stage encounters between the imagined Karmapala and a re-enactment of the forbidden scenes of Daerah Hilang.

Bachtiar Siagian (1923–2002) was a member of the leftist cultural organization Lekra (1950–1965). Active in the network of Third World filmmakers, his cinematic realism was anchored in the social realities of the Third World. Most of his films were lost during the anti-communist purge of the authoritarian Orde Baru (New Order) regime.

Karmapala: Through The Forbidden Scenes (Bunga Siagian and George Clark, 2023)
Karmapala: Through The Forbidden Scenes (Bunga Siagian and George Clark, 2023)

Thanks to Philip Widmann and team for invitation.

Mother Bank artist talk for Kochi-Muziris Biennale, 2 February 2023

“The Soil Assembly”
Kochi-Muziris Biennale
1-5 February 2023

Kochi-Muziris Biennale presents ‘The Soil Assembly: Ecologies, Circularities and Living Pedagogies” in partnership with Srishti Manipal Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore India. “The Soil Assembly” is an international gathering of plants, microbes, humans, fungi, algae, seeds, and other practitioners in the web of life, emphasizing the importance of (bio)diversity and the interconnectedness of all living beings.

As part of the assembly Ismal Muntaha, Bunga Siagian and George Clark presented the ongoing Mother Bank project as a performance lecture in context of series of presentations on “Living Projects & Communities.”

Here is an overview of our contribution from Julian Chollet:

The first round of afternoon presentations was dedicated to the topic “Living Projects & Communities” and started with an initiative from Indonesia, called “Motherbank”. Ismal Muntaha, Bunga Siagian and George Clark presented the idea to achieve financial autonomy and collective action through leadership by the mothers of a community. More than just an alternative bank, the project succeeded in increasing the self-sufficiency of the local food production and created a regional market to exchange the surplus. Residencies and other events that were organized by the members of the Motherbank itself, acted as a tool for empowerment as well as a method to spread the practices into other parts of Indonesia. Moreover, from an initiative of the participating mothers, a band was assembled which is now touring through the country. The discussion circled around the importance of supporting rural communities and making them more resilient against the effects of climate change on the one hand and the violent pressure of industrialization on the other.

Julian Chollet, ‘Highlights from Kochi Biennale: Soil, Sustainability, and Community at The Soil Assembly,’, 22 March 2023

Thanks to curators Ewen Chardronnet, Maya Minder, Neal White and Meena Vari for invitation to share our project and learn from the many great projects brought together over the course of “The Soil Assembly”.

Everything is suspended in thin air, artist talk for Afterall’s Precarious solidarities symposium 2 Feb 2023

Symposium: Precarious Solidarities: Artists for Democracy (1974–77)
Afterall Exhibition histories symposium
2 February 2023

Together with Cường Phạm, I delivered the illustrated talk ‘Everything is suspended in thin air’ as part of the Precarious Solidarities: Artists for Democracy (1974–77), Exhibition Histories Symposium organised by David Morris and Wing Chan from Afterall.

At the end of her review of David Toop and Paul Burwell’s musical performance with Artists For Democracy, Annabel Nicolson wonders “where they learnt Vietnamese music.” Our presentation will explore this question looking at the networks for the dissemination of music and how they are linked with issues of solidarity, community, exile and mourning. Drawing on our work with the An Viet Foundation archive, the collection of the influential Vietnamese refugee and housing association based in Hackney 1981-2017, we will explore how the idea of Vietnam travelled through song, linking distinct solidarity groups and refugee communities and intermingling it with international struggles from Ireland to Chile. The awareness of such popular struggles was enabled by the often intimate exchange of music. While these struggles are all inherently creations of conflict, they have in turn created means of community and gathering that sit outside of the reach of the state. As Edward Said reflected: “Exile is irremediably secular and unbearably historical … like death but without death’s ultimate mercy, it has torn millions of people from the nourishment of tradition, family, and geography.” In such contexts, what is it that we can learn from music? 

Cường Minh Bá Phạm works between sound and community, sometimes they intersect, and at times they don’t. He finds himself trying to constantly negotiate and situate himself concerning cultural identity, movement, sites of community, and geographical spaces, Often this is done through sound, language or memory. He is also actively involved in the East & Southeast Asian communities in London, primarily working with local refugee and precarious communities. Under the handle ‘Phambinho’ he also hosts a monthly show on NTS, an independent online radio platform. In which he, and occasional guests, attempts to reframe ‘Asia’ as a contested paradigm through the lenses of music and art. Alongside Breakwater Collective, he has just finished a four part art radio series, ‘Becoming Forest’ which posits mental wellbeing as a collective responsibility. With a focus on the detrimental impact of Covid-19 and the spike of anti-Asian racism upon the mental health of Southeast and East Asian diasporas, refugees, and precarious migrants in the UK. Currently, he is working alongside a Steering Committee in setting up the An Viet Archive which consists of the largest known collection of documents, photos, and other objects relating to the British-Vietnamese experience.

George Clark is an artist, writer and curator. His work focuses on moving images in the expanded field working across film, installation and performance with an interest in inter-local collaborative practice. His projects explore non-aligned histories and geographies seeking to build new models of assembly, exhibition and moving image production. His films have been exhibited at museums and festivals including New York Film Festival, Hanoi Doclab, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Taiwan Biennale, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art / MMCA, Seoul, Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires and LA Film Forum among others. He is a lecturer at the University of Westminster and his work is distributed by LUX. With Cường Phạm, he is working alongside a Steering Committee in setting up the An Viet Archive which consists of the largest known collection of documents, photos, and other objects relating to the British-Vietnamese experience.