Previously at the ICA - Events

Trinh T Minh-ha: Symposium

Trinh T Minh-ha: Symposium

3 Dec 2017

This event will take place between 2pm and 5.30pm

“It is necessary for me always to keep in mind that one cannot really theorize about film, but only with film. This is how the field can remain open.” – Trinh T Minh-ha, Framer Framed 

As part of the ICA retrospective of Vietnamese-born writer, theorist, composer and filmmaker Trinh T Minh-ha's moving image work, this symposium brings together artists, writers, academics and filmmakers to discuss themes related to Trinh’s practice.

Taking into consideration the artist’s concept of film as a 'resonance event', the participants explore connections to themes such as feminism, the fluidity of identity, digital and migratory aesthetics, and new forms of kinship and collaboration. The speakers touch upon the timeliness of Trinh's films and writings, in particular through a commitment to transcultural narratives of difference and the expression of the experience of 'being in expulsion'.  

Speakers include Sutapa Biswas (artist and Reader in Fine Art at Manchester Metropolitan University), Catherine Grant (Professor of Digital Media and Screen Studies, Birkbeck University of London), Sophie Hope (curator and lecturer, Birkbeck University of London), Lucy Reynolds (researcher, curator and artist, University of Westminster), Alison Rowley (Reader in Cultural Theory, University of Huddersfield), Valentina Vitali (Professor of Film Studies, University of East London), susan pui san lok (artist and Associate Professor in Fine Art, Middlesex) and Sarah Wood (curator and artist filmmaker).  

A screening of Sarah Wood's short film Azure forms part of the symposium programme (Azure, dir, Sarah Wood, United Kingdom 2016, video).

The first panel, chaired by artist, writer and curator Sophie Mayer, covers the feminist and socially engaged trajectories that can be traced from Trinh T Minh-ha's work, with a particular focus on methodologies that profile under-heard voices and explore different types of agency. This connects closely to Trinh's commitment to re-telling womens' stories from 'othered' traditions and cultures, as well as her promise 'not to speak about, but to speak nearby'.    

In this session, Lucy Reynolds presents on the feminist legacy of Trinh T Minh-ha in relation to feminist filmmaking in Britain; Sutapa Biswas explores forms of animism both in her own work and that of Trinh; Catherine Grant speaks about the migratory aesthetics of Trinh's latest work, Forgetting Vietnam, and Sarah Wood discusses art and the politics of hospitality. 

The second panel, chaired by ICA Associate Curator of Education Partnerships Astrid Korporaal, considers the novel spaces for connection, collaboration and kinship that are encouraged to come into existence through Trinh's film work and writing. These spaces can incorporate both digital and transcultural elements, and be elaborated on through practices of staging, mirroring and translation.    

In the panel, Alison Rowley discusses the possibilities of digital imaging in the creation of an imagined, 'transcultural' world in Night Passage (2004); Sophie Hope introduces Trinh's approach to 'hyphenated play' and in-between spaces; susan pui san lok reflects on tactics of staging and translating in Minh-ha's Surname Viet, Given Name Nam (1989) and her own work, and Valentina Vitali discusses the notion of transcultural imagination through the figure of the cyborg.

Speaker Biographies

  • Sutapa Biswas

    Sutapa Biswas was born in India in 1962, and moved with her family to London aged four, where she now lives and works. Drawing from a range of sources including literary texts and art history, she is a conceptual, interdisciplinary artist who is interested in exploring spatial stories and the relationships between people and the places they live. In particular, she is drawn to questions that oral narratives reveal about the human condition and their relationships to collective histories and time.

    Biswas graduated with a BA in Fine Art with Art History from Leeds University, completed her postgraduate at the Slade School of Art and was a research student at Royal College of Art. Her works have been widely exhibited including at Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool, Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven), Mixed Bathing World 2015 Triennial (Beppu, Japan), 6th Havana Biennial, Neuberger Museum (New York), Nara Roesler (Sao Paolo), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Melbourne International Arts Festival, Whitechapel Gallery, Iniva (London) and ICA (London).

    She was the 2008 Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at the Yale Centre for British Art, and is a European Photography Award 1992 nominee. Her artworks are represented in collections including TATE, APT (New York), Arts Council England, Reed Gallery, USA, Graves Gallery, Sheffield Museums and Galleries, UK. Biswas is a Reader in Fine Art at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.

  • Catherine Grant

    Catherine Grant is Professor of Digital Media and Screen Studies at Birkbeck, University of London, where she teaches and researches online audiovisual cultures, audiovisual essay practices and digital forms of analysis and criticism.

    She makes short films as part of her research, runs the Film Studies For Free blog and is a founding co-editor of [in]Transition: Journal of Videographic Film and Moving Image Studies.

  • Sophie Hope

    Sophie Hope is a practice-based researcher at Birkbeck, University of London. She produces research works with pluralised perspectives using diverse methods such as performative interviews, audio installations, flow diagrams and communal dinners.

    Sophie explores subjects such as art and politics in the year 1984, physical and emotional experiences of immaterial work (with Jenny Richards), stories people tell about socially-engaged art commissions and the ethics of employability in the creative industries.

  • Lucy Reynolds

    Lucy Reynolds has lectured and published extensively, most particularly focusing on questions of the moving image, feminism, political space and collective practice. She is Senior Lecturer and researcher in the department of Media, Arts and Design at Westminster University. Her articles have appeared in a range of journals such as Afterall, the Moving Image Review and Art Journal, Screen, Screendance, Art Agenda and the Millennium Film Journal, and she has curated exhibitions and film programmes for a range of institutions nationally and internationally.

    As an artist, her films and installations have been presented in galleries and cinemas internationally, and her ongoing sound work A Feminist Chorus has been heard at the Glasgow International Festival, the Wysing Arts Centre and the Showroom. She is currently editing the anthology Women Artists, Feminism and the Moving Image, for publication in 2018.    

  • Alison Rowley

    Alison Rowley is Reader in Cultural Theory in the School of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Huddersfield. Her book Helen Frankenthaler: Painting History, Writing Painting was published by I.B. Tauris in 2007. Her writing on contemporary art and film includes essays on Chantal Akerman, Willie Doherty, Eva Hesse, Sarah Lucas and Trinh T. Minh-ha.    

  • Valentina Vitali

    Dr Valentina Vitali is Professor of Film Studies at the University of East London and director of the Moving Image Research Centre (UEL). She is the author of Capital and Popular Cinema: the Dollars Are Coming! (MUP 2016) and Hindi Action Cinema: Industries, Narratives, Bodies (OUP and Indiana 2008), and the co-editor (with Paul Willemen) of Theorising National Cinema (BFI 2006).

    Her writing on Hindi, Mexican and Taiwanese cinema, the action and fantasy film, film historiography, and on image-based work by women has appeared in international journals including Boundary2, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Cinema Journal, Journal of Asian Studies and Framework, and in the anthologies Chinese Cinemas: International Perspectives, Beyond the Boundaries of Bollywood, Genre in Asian Film and Television, Narratives of Indian Cinema, Hong Kong Connections: Transnational Imagination in Action Cinema and Shirin Neshat: the Secret of the Veil.    

  • susan pui san lok

    susan pui san lok is an artist based in London. Her work ranges across moving image, installation, sound, performance and text, evolving out of interests in notions of nostalgia and aspiration, place and migration, translation and diaspora.

    Solo projects include RoCH Fans & Legends at QUAD, Derby (2015) and CFCCA, Manchester (2016), Lightness, commissioned by Film & Video Umbrella (FVU) for Everything Flows at De La Warr Pavilion (2012), Faster, Higher (2008), commissioned by FVU and BFI Southbank to coincide with the Beijing Olympics, with stagings at BFI Southbank Gallery (2008), Hatton Gallery Newcastle (2009), Winchester Discovery Centre (2012) and MAI, Montreal (2014), DIY Ballroom/Live (2007-2008), a Cornerhouse/BBC Bigger Picture national touring commission and Golden (2005-ongoing), an Arts Council England and AHRC-funded project, including exhibitions, residencies, a publication, live events, and commissions for Beaconsfield, London, the Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester, and the Guangdong Museum of Art.

    Recent group exhibitions include the Diaspora Pavilion during the 57th Venice Biennale (2017) and the 1st Asia Biennial and 5th Guangzhou Triennial (2015-2016).

    She is Associate Professor in Fine Art at Middlesex University, and a co-investigator on the AHRC research project Black Artists and Modernism, a collaboration between University of the Arts London and Middlesex University.

  • Sarah Wood

    Sarah Wood is an artist filmmaker. She works with the found object, particularly the still and moving image, as an act of reclamation and re-interrogation. Her current focus is on the meaning of the archive, in particular the politics of memory, asking not only why some objects are preserved while others are ignored but also why preservation is made at certain historical moments.

This event is organised in partnership with the School of Arts at Birkbeck, University of London


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