TO BRING THE WORLD INTO THE WORLD at InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre (9 Ossington), to November 17. 416-532-0597. Rating: NNNN
In this provocative show put together by Shanghai-based curator Biljana Ciric and co-presented by InterAccess, Gendai Gallery and Art Metropole (where related publications are available), Southeast Asian and Chinese video artists working in both documentary and fictional modes meditate on memory, history and identity.
The most straightforward documentary is Bomb Ponds, Vandy Rattana's heartbreaking interviews with Cambodian farmers about the craters left by Nixon's 1973 air war. Traumatized by wartime memories, the survivors are still puzzled about why they were targeted and call on the U.S. to remove the toxic ponds.
Playing on 16 tablet-sized screens, selected videos from Na Yingyu's complex project Our Homeland! Gone Just Like That depict Yunnan, China's Naxi people. Though we don't learn about the threats to the Naxi, what we know about neighbouring Tibet gives us an idea. Still, the interaction of the tiny moving images of singing and dancing, religious rituals, food prep, an abandoned school and more paint an evocative non-linear portrait of a people and place.
The two-channel On Each Milestone, by Camamoto (Japan's Takayuki Yamamoto and Vietnam's Hoang Duong Cam), juxtaposes Vietnamese musicians with people on a road trip, a collision of tradition and modernity.
On the fictional side, actors in Ho Tzunyen's Utama change costumes to enact tableaux related to the founding of Singapore, highlighting the impossibility of pinning down a national identity and the pompous silliness of patriotic myths.
The films of Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonmee) conjure a dreamlike, haunting world where Thai folklore and Buddhist mysticism coexist with modern institutions. Morakot (Emerald) is a poetic short journey through a derelict Bangkok hotel where luminous dust motes swirl in the air, ghostly heads materialize on pillows and dreams are recounted in voice-over.
The show is a fascinating glimpse of what's on the minds of artists on the other side of the world.