Critics’ Picks

Lee Ji-Hong, September’s Work, 2014, video installation, dimensions variable.

Lee Ji-Hong, September’s Work, 2014, video installation, dimensions variable.


“The Return of Ghosts”

Hong-Gah Museum
11F, No. 166, Dàyè Road, Běitóu District
November 1, 2014–January 25, 2015

In a dark, mazelike gallery, a luminous network of flat-screen TVs, digital picture frames, projectors, and iPads serve as receptors for a selection of filmic representations. Screening an international array of thirty-six videos, documentaries, and installations incorporating the moving image, this exhibition presents a survey of spiritual practices that address the ghostly nature of cinematic images and the modern history of specters.

At the entrance of the museum Lee Ji-Hong projects a faint image of himself cleaning the reception area’s window, in the piece September’s Work, 2014. With the video digitally altered to run at variable speeds, his utilitarian gestures are rendered as a lyrical, phantasmal dance. In an adjacent room, Grayson Cooke’s video AgX:HNO3, 2014, addresses the materiality of memories by inducing a beautiful decay of film negatives in nitric acid, while the artist group FLATFORM’s 57,600 seconds of invisible night and light, 2009, highlights the malleability of time by seamlessly collaging different moments of night and day into one ordinary street scene.

Before the opening, the exhibition’s curators, Nobuo Takamori and Gong Jow-Juin, organized several related events. One involved a Taoist spirit mediator who, amidst channeling a divine spirit, spoke about the correlation between spiritual mediation and contemporary art. According to him, inspiration relies on sensitivity to the spiritual realm. Such receptivity is most directly demonstrated in Mark Freeman’s documentary Body without a Brain, 2014, in which an Indonesian man in a state of trance performs a physically demanding mediation of spirits from the natural world. This film, a representation of the past, is projected in a ritualistic loop onto a free-hanging panel, stirring the psychic energy of the gallery space.