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Performing Space in Asian Film

Organised by the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. Convenors: Lilian CHEE, Edna LIM, Charles LEARY.



22 Feb 2010 - 23 Feb 2010

Asia Research Institute, 469A Tower Block, Level 10 Bukit Timah Road, National University of Singapore @ BTC

The notion of ‘space’ has become a key subject in many disciplines ranging from its more physical and material relationship to architecture and geography, for example, to its discussion in fields as diverse as philosophy, film, theatre, literature, history, cultural studies and art history. In the latter disciplines, space is variously interpreted in its metaphorical, psychoanalytic, emotional, cultural and social registers.

Likewise, the notion of performance has also been widely re-appropriated by various disciplines. ‘Performance’, traditionally defined as a mode of entertainment or ritual, is also increasingly understood now as a critical methodology enabling an interpretation of cultural behavioural patterns. Different spatial typologies – institutional, civic, domestic, liminal, ceremonial, or religious, for example – orchestrate sets of culturally recognized and appropriate forms of behaviour. As such, space is instrumental to the codification of socially acceptable patterns of actions, and conversely to the enactment of performances, which either reinforce or contest such patterns.

Developing the multivalent perspectives of space, this workshop considers the performative potential of space in Asian films, posing such questions as ‘How is Asian space constructed?‘ or ‘Who are its producers/ protagonists?’ For our purposes, film is also adopted not as a strictly mimetic medium but one that can engage other epistemic modes of identity – bodily, emotional, haptic, or experiential. We suggest that film in its various formats – feature, shorts, propaganda, documentary, experimental, and amateur – and through the application of cinematic styles and conventions, offers performances that reveal how spaces are reflected, constructed, and how they may be performative, that is, transformed or transgressed.

‘Performing Space in Asian Film’ may be routed through more precise topics of spatial representation related, for example, to notions of authorship, genre studies, popular culture, national cinema, nationalism, immigrant discourses, migrant culture, diaspora, transnationalism, gender, ethnicity, class, and globalization. The workshop aims to bring together different readings of Asian spaces embedded in film, enriched by disciplinary concerns from within the fields of architecture, urban studies, film and theatre studies, performance studies, history, anthropology, geography, cultural studies, and literature.

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