Mi You: lecture at Haus der Kulturen der Welt

Royce Ng's Kishi the Vampire. Photo: Sun Siwei

2 or 3 Tigers

Curated by Anselm Franke and Hyunjin Kim

Wherever humans have lived in a shared habitat with the tiger, mythology reflects the animal's status as a “liminal” figure, closely related to the community, and yet marking its beyond. As a creature of mountains and borderlands, the tiger occupies a transitory zone separating civilization from wilderness, the living from the ancestor-spirit world. As co-species and mythical symbol, the tiger plays an important role as a medium at the limits of society, carrying an imprint of how contemporary cultures have been shaped by encounters with otherness.The emblematic image of the tiger opens deep historical insights into the rapid re-making of human society since the dawn of colonial modernity. At the same time as tigers were driven to near extinction, they leap into the imaginary of national modernity as a recurring ghost, and as symbols of national power, military might and economic development they bind the hypermodern present to the colonial and pre-colonial past.

2 or 3 Tigers, on view from April 21 to July 3, 2017, opening April 20, derives its title from the work of Singaporean artist, film- and theatre maker Ho Tzu Nyen, who explores the shifting shapes of tigers and weretigers in the ancient and modern mythology of Malaysia and the city state of Singapore.The works in 2 or 3 Tigers approach collective experience by explicitly questioning the historical nature of mediation, including its means of representation. Several works thus reflect on the changing nature of mass media. Against the phantasm of universal mediatization through digital technologies in an age of computer generated imagery and ubiquitous animation, they are in search of complex images that serves as sites for shared experiences of history. Rather than reinforce identitarian divides, the works bring the past into the present and in so doing transfigure the image of history itself.

Other major contributions from Park Chan-kyong, Jane Jin Kaisen and Guston Sondin-Kung reflect on histories of suppression, militarization and exploitation that haunt the geopolitics of the Pacific and the Cold War era in Japan and Korea. While the installations of Yuichiro Tamura and IM Heung-soon present the tiger as an iconic medium of Asian military nationalism, the film by James T. Hong investigates the tensions unfolding around several disputed East Asian islands. Photographs by Lieko Shiga made in the aftermath of the 2011 Tsunami in Japan; the digital 3D matrix by Chia-Wei Hsu of a Chinese deity displaced by the Cultural Revolution; and a large installation featuring a filmed performance along Seoul's Han River paired with a ritualistic ensemble of sculptures transfiguring a broadcast station by Minouk Lim: all explore rapidly changing cosmologies and reverberations of animism and its forms of mediation across different political and technological registers.

The opening program revolves around the relationship between ideology and the "media" of modernity. From April 20 to 23, lectures, talks, performances and films discuss the relationship between media, technology and society, specifically in historical and geopolitical contexts that are characterized by the logic of colonialism and nationalism, increasing militarization and financialization. With Au Sow-Yee, Kevin Chua, Anselm Franke, Hongkoo Han, Duto Hardono, Ho Rui An, Ho Tzu Nyen, Yuk Hui, Hyunjin Kim, Yongwoo Lee, Angela Melitopoulos, Park Chan-kyong, Shabbir Hussain Mustafa, siren eun young jung, David Teh, The Propeller Group, Trinh T. Minh-Ha, and Mi You.

Abstract to Mi You's lecture " Slow silk road, networks and denationalistic imaginaries "

The talk centers on my long-term research dedicated to the silk roads, which encompasses as much historical review of trade and cultural transfers, as contemporary geopolitics in Asia. An analytical lens of desire with a deep-historical, yet post-nationalistic perspective treads together both medieval decentralized trade networks and late capitalistic networks. Under this light, I will examine the recent work of Royce Ng exploring Japanese puppet regime Manchukuo based on transnationalist principle and the syncretic capitalistic system Japanese governor Nobusuke Kishi exercised there, which has later reshaped or influenced post-war economy and politics of Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, and eventually China. With a speculative leap, my research looks into the geobody of the silk roads and the possibility of a ‘slower Silk Road’, envisioned by French anarchist geographer Élisée Reclus. More than projecting the human into geological times, it is a call for letting the geo-movements infuse ourselves, not unlike the proposal of Kyoto School thinkers. 

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