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By the Other Being

Artist: Cao Fei, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Jeamin Cha, Wantanee Siripattananauntakul, Shireen Seno, Wong Wai Nap
Language: Multiple
Audience: Everyone
Location: Grand Stair

By the Other Being

The relationships with our companions can be sources of mutual comfort or threats. By the Other Being expands beyond material objects to a wider range of domestic companions, including animals, plants, robots, and intruders. It explores the physical and mental aspects of the home, influenced by our significant ‘others’. This programme weaves a fictional narrative around them, who also share the time and space of our everyday.

By the Other Being consists of two parts. Part A brings audiences a series of five selected screenings. Part B showcases the screening of Haze and Fog, which is followed by a writer's response by Dorothy Tse Hiu-hung.

Due to M+'s temporary closure under COVID-19 restrictions, the screenings and artist talk associated with this programme have been cancelled.

Part A: Screenings

A Letter to Uncle Boonmee

Apichatpong Weerasethakul | 2009 | Colour | Sound | 17 min 40 sec

M+, Hong Kong

A Letter to Uncle Boonmee takes place in Nabua, a Thai village on the Mekong River, bordering Laos. As the film begins, the camera meanders inside several abandoned houses. Two men, one after the other, recite a letter from the artist to his uncle. The letter discusses the film itself: how Weerasethakul wants to produce a movie about Boonmee’s life, but wonders if the setting he has found in Nabua is realistic. The scene shifts to soldiers digging between the homes. A strange oval shaped structure emits smoke nearby as the soldiers set to rest. As the camera strays to a surrounding forest, it captures a mysterious figure, a spirit house, and a cow. Though quiet, the soldiers recall a violent past.

A Letter to Uncle Boonmee fuses Weerasethakul’s own memory and imagination with this historical experience, exploring the idea of reincarnation by telling a story at another unrelated site.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul, A Letter to Uncle Boonmee.jpg

A Letter to Uncle Boonmee, Apichatpong Weerasethakul. 2009. © Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Ellie's Eye

Cha Jeamin | 2020 | Colour | Sound | 11 min 38 sec

Loan courtesy of the artist

Ellie’s Eye is a video essay that uses a pet dog and an AI therapist—both named Ellie—to examine visual perception, the eye, the gaze, and the act of ‘seeing through.’ The artist questions the ways in which technologies, based on ‘seeing’, have reflected human desires—as well as the ways in which we deal with depression and psychological issues we face today.

Cha Jeamin, Ellie's Eye.jpg

Ellie's Eye, Cha Jeamin. 2020. © Cha Jeamin

To Pick a Flower

Shireen Seno | 2021 | Colour | B/W | Sound | 16 min 57 sec

Loan courtesy of the artist

In To Pick a Flower, Shireen Seno recalls her mother telling her that the wooden dining table in their home is the same age as she is. The artist proceeds to retrace the journey of wood that ended up as furniture. The screening follows the lives of plants in the Philippines during the US occupation from 1989 to 1946. Using archival photographs, Seno examines how human beings and nature became intertwined under the imperial system. The artist contemplates on the tangled roots of photography and capitalism in the Philippines and how domesticated plants and local vegetation have formed complex and sticky relationships with local residents within their historical context.

Shireen Seno, To Pick a Flower.jpg

To Pick a Flower, Shireen Seno. 2021. © Shireen Seno

Everyone is…

Wantanee Siripattananauntakul | 2017 | Colour | Sound | 5 min 6 sec

Loan courtesy of the artist

Since 2013, Wantanee Siripattananuntakul has been working with 'Beuys,’ an African grey parrot, which Wantanee has bonded with. Everyone is… features a time-based media collaboration with Beuys, who repeats the famous words of German artist Joseph Beuys: ‘Everyone is an artist.’ Wantanee hopes her new perspectives will bring a better understanding of other beings by focusing on things around herself, Beuys, and other species.

Wantanee Siripattananuntakul, Everyone is....jpg

Everyone is…, Wantanee Siripattananauntakul. 2017. © Wantanee Siripattananauntakul

The Sea Within

Wong Wai Nap | 2014 | Colour | Sound | 29 min 59 sec

Loan courtesy of the artist

Fishermen couple Ah Shing and Mei-wah, living from boat to shore, have stayed together for most of their lives. After their son grew up, they begin to have different visions for the rest of their days. Ah Shing insists on fishing amid the decline of the local fishing industry. Mei-wah works as a factory worker and wishes for a more stable life. When subtle and profound changes occur in their relationships due to differing views, their affections for each other never dwindled. The Sea Within is based on the real-life story of Wong’s parents, who play their own roles in the film.

Wong Wai Nap, The Sea Within.jpg

The Sea Within, Wong Wai Nap. 2014. © Wong Wai Nap

Part B: Screening & Discussion

Haze and Fog

Cao Fei | 2013 | Colour | Sound | 46 min 30 sec

M+, Hong Kong

Haze and Fog is part of Cao Fei’s ongoing examination of the rapid social and cultural changes that occur in China and the things that can be discovered within them, including class structure, cultural diversity, and generation gaps. In Haze and Fog, the characters—seemingly like ‘zombies’—appear as delivery people, cleaners, babysitters, security workers, and real estate agents. With their individuality erased, they represent aspects of a modern individual that has permeated the repetitive city routine while showing the different forms of life within the societies they belong to.

Cao Fei, Haze and Fog.tif

Haze and Fog, Cao Fei. 2013 © Cao Fei

A Writer's Response by Dorothy Tse Hiu-hung (Cancelled)

In early 2020, Hong Kong-based writer Dorothy Tse Hiu-hung released her first full-length novel Owlish and the Music-Box Ballerina. Strange and fantastical, the book recasts an imaginary city in the shadows of menace and figments of dreams. In Cao Fei’s Haze and Fog, the city is an emotional vacuum—we see modern individuals going about their seemingly mundane routines. Using Haze and Fog as a conversation starter after the screening, Dorothy Tse Hiu-hung will share her thoughts about our cities and the ambiguous space between reality and fantasy.

This talk will be conducted in Cantonese. Simultaneous interpretation in English will be available.

Post-screening Discussion