Trailblazers Talk with Nick Deocampo, Ellen Pau, and Zhang Peili

10:30 am
M+ Cinema

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This round table brings together artists Nick Deocampo, Ellen Pau, and Zhang Peili to discuss their outstanding careers and commitment to the moving image. Active in Manila, Hong Kong, and Hangzhou since the 1980s, the three artists played a critical role in championing experimental cinema and video art practices that have developed outside the confines of the film and art industries.

Throughout the last four decades, Deocampo, Pau, and Zhang have been providing important platforms for experimentation and exchange in their immediate environment as well as their greater region. As artists, scholars, teachers, mentors, and festival organisers, they sparked interest in the history of the medium and encouraged younger generations to develop their own conceptual and formal languages that are pertinent for their time and drawn from newly available technologies.

Moderated by Silke Schmickl, CHANEL Lead Curator, Moving Image, the conversation offers a regional perspective on Asian avant-garde moving image practices. It will explore both connections and divergences between different countries and communities at different times and celebrate these artists’ pioneering spirit which continues to inform their practice and expand their influence.

About the Speakers

Nick Deocampo (b.1959, Philippines) is a multi-awarded filmmaker, film historian, and pioneering advocate of queer cinema in the Philippines. A critical advocate for alternative cinema in the Philippines, Deocampo is particularly interested in the struggles of queer and other marginalised communities, as well as the socio-political situation during the martial law regime in the Philippines in the 1970s. His prizewinning film, Oliver (1983), denounces military power in the Filipino society and raises awareness of notions between homosexuals and other marginalised groups embracing emancipatory philosophies and practices. His works, including Isaak (1994) and Private Wars (1997), have contributed to the forming and archiving of alternative Filipino culture and history. He also authored several books on political and cultural history of the Philippines, which continue to enrich the cinematic landscape and provide different perspectives toward the Philippines.

Ellen Pau (b.1961, Hong Kong) is a video artist, as well as a curator and a researcher well known for her continuous contribution to the local development of digital and video art. Being a A self-taught artist, Pau embarked on her video art career with Disenchantment of the Statue (1987) and is considered one of the pioneering video artists in Hong Kong in of the 1980s. She co-founded Videotage, an artist collective focusing on new media art, in 1986 and initiated the first Microwave International New Media Arts Festival in 1996. Her works have been shown in film festivals and exhibitions worldwide, including the Hong Kong International Film Festival and “What about Home Affairs” (2018) held by Para Site. Her works are now in the collections of M+, Hong Kong; Hong Kong Museum of Art; and Centre Pompidou, Paris.

Zhang Peili (b.1957, Hangzhou) is acknowledged as a pioneer of video art in China. He received education in oil painting from the Department of the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts, now the China Academy of Art. In 1986, he co-founded the Pond Society in Shanghai. His 30x30 (1988), widely recognised as the first video art in contemporary Chinese art, radically criticised the routine practices of art profession. In 2003, he founded the New Media Department at the China Academy of Art. Zhang’s work has been seen as a form of critique to the ideology intertwined in the social representation and language that shape the Chinese social system. His works have been internationally exhibited in Biennales, renowned museums and numerous exhibitions.

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