Singapore—Pearl Lam Galleries is pleased to present The Third Script, an exhibition featuring works by Singaporean filmmaker Boo Junfeng and Hong Kong artist Linda C.H. Lai, opening on 7 May, 2016. Boo and Lai will come together as two independent artists to present two different ways of deconstructing a narrative. Comprising a site-specific installation and time-based artwork, curated by David H.Y. Chan, this show demonstrates the Galleries’ commitment to supporting experimental projects and providing a collaborative platform that stimulates cross-cultural dialogue.
Both Hong Kong and Singapore, young post-colonial city-states, are actively working to secure historical identities through a linear historical narrative. The Third Script presents two alternatives to this linear construction. By experimenting with the construction and use of micro-narratives, this exhibition reflects on how our identity and recollection of the past are formed.
“The blurring of lines between what is real and what is fiction is one of the things I love most about cinema. When we buy into a narrative, it becomes real.”
“I offer no certainty for what is the past, what is the present, and what lies ahead— except that I was there and I am here, and for likely traces of the future, an emergent presence.”
—Linda C.H. Lai
Boo and Lai, a filmmaker and a videographer/artist respectively, question their own authorship in their work by engaging with time-based media, rendering their practices transparent to their viewers. In doing so, they demonstrate the instability of our individual memories and the impossibility of formulating a collective history.
If the function of a monument is to commemorate a specific historical event, Lai’s site-specific installation Mnemonic Archiving: A Dispersive Monument simulates a real-time archival machine like a perpetual montage. The work is embedded with fragments from old Cantonese movies, found and personal footage from different periods, in used furniture and everyday objects using small tablet screens. The piece is a metaphor for an archaeological dig with the different components connected like a rhizome. Such a juxtaposition denies the object on view of its own importance and refutes a chronological reading of its content.
Boo’s The Scene at the Train Station, a 3-channel projection, features unused footage from his 12-minute short film Parting (2015), which is part of the 7 Letters anthology created in celebration of Singapore’s 50th anniversary. Parting’s plot centres on an elderly Malaysian man, who is suffering from dementia, and his unsuccessful search for a long-lost daughter in Singapore. At the train station on his journey home, he encounters a film set where a young couple is acting out a tearful scene that reminds him of his own past. Boo shows cut footage of the crying scene from three different angles to deconstruct the trope of the film and its master narrative. Shown on three muted screens, we see the subtitles of the director’s instructions to the actor and the actress, orchestrating their emotion for the audience. Boo’s other works in this exhibition include three light boxes featuring the 35mm film version of The Scene at the Train Station, and Parting, which will be screened in its entirety. For Boo, filmmaking as a cinematic construction is inherently fictitious. Our desire for belonging and kinship are carefully crafted by an “auteur”.
Uncertain stories and fractured narratives form the nexus of this exhibition. In reaction to the unquestioned methodology of expressing events in linear time, Boo and Lai question the authority of this truth by presenting alternatives that express the instability of our memories. To both artists, there isn’t a single collective history for Singapore or Hong Kong; history is always multi-threaded and incomplete.