Critical Conversations: Telling Our Stories
Telling Our Stories brings together film practitioners Sherman Ong and Sarah-Tabea Sammel to locate the notion of identity within narratives wrought from within the Southeast Asian region. Activating their practices as points of departure, the conversation peers into regional histories, landscapes, and mythos, where the self is placed in relation to both elsewhere and elsewhen, or the here and now: existence is negotiated through tactility and shared circumstances in Sammel’s works across film, photography and text, while private memories are surreptitiously interloped with both interregional histories and diasporic lore in Sherman’s films. Altogether, these stories emerge as moments of encounter and co-existence across the plane of screen culture to find parity in who we are as peoples.
Conventional Western-centric conceptions of narration and time tend towards the linear: personal lifestyles conform to social schedules, the notion of history relegated to key players, stories unfolding across a traditional arc of climax and conclusion. Across philosophy, art, films and historicity, Critical Conversations 2021 is an inquiry that lingers on the questions: who and what frames time? And how do we understand alternate conceptions of time? Here, the politics, contexts and anxieties that arise from grasping at time find space in discourse, and is where lesser-known narratives and ordinary people are given agency to make sense of time.
“Really opened my eyes to the notion that parts of us are mirrored in other living beings, especially in ways we may have never before considered”
Filmmaker & Visual Artist
Sherman Ong is a filmmaker, photographer and visual artist, whose practice centres largely on the human condition and our relationships with others within the larger milieu. He is a founding member of 13 Little Pictures, a film collective based in Singapore. He also serves on the committee of the Singapore International Photography Festival, as an educator at schools and universities, and was an Associate Artist of the Substation. He has premiered works at the Venice, Singapore and Jakarta Art Biennales, Fukuoka and Asia Pacific Triennale, Mori Art Museum Tokyo, Tate Modern, Centre Pompidou Paris, Rotterdam International Film Festival, Singapore Art Museum and more. His works can be found at: www.shermanong.com
[Image taken by Jordi Azategui for Sherman Ong]
Department of Communications & New Media,
Sarah-Tabea Sammel is a writer-director, producer, artist, film scholar and educator. She pursues projects through practice-as-research across video, photography and writing. She is the founder of a Singapore-based production house as social enterprise with an inclusive capacity building program using storytelling as a communication and empathy tool. Her art works ask about tactile relationships between human and nature and shared human experiences that help us to discuss our co-existence. Her portfolio can be found at: www.sarah-tabea-sammel.com.
[Portrait credit: Tan Ngiap Heng]