Now You’re Speakin‘ My Language presents five new experimental video works that explore how language and story connect us across oceans, rivers, lands, imposed borders, and time.
Curated by Taungurung curator Kate ten Buuren, the series brings together newly commissioned works by artists of First Nations, Southeast Asian, and Asia-Pacific backgrounds/diasporas.
Presenting works by Chi Tran, Tiyan Baker, Jenna Lee, James Nguyen, and Gutiŋarra Yunupiŋu, the films offer critical perspectives on colonial pasts and presents, and imaginatively engage with intergenerational knowledge to bring forth languages from lands.
‘These films reflect how we communicate—with ourselves, our neighbours, our Ancestors, and with the land itself. They also reflect on how the land speaks back.’
–Kate ten Buuren
In The Sun Sets and Once Again the Earth is Upright, writer and filmmaker Chi Tran offers a tender story of grief, hope, and connection as she depicts the deep relationship between flowing time and land. The film tells the story of Meilani, who spends her days by the river grieving the loss of her mother. Over the course of three days, she crosses paths with two strangers, whose words and spirits accompany her on a journey.
In her ASMR-style film, artist and director Jenna Lee steps through the preparation and cooking of lotus root, or ‘gwoyarr-ma’ in the language of the Gulumerridjin (Larrakia) people. Gwoyarr-ma is proof of the Gulumerridjin (Larrakia) people’s ancient trade relationships with Southeast Asia via seafaring Makassar Traders, and in her film, Lee invokes a connection between language and sustenance.
Compelling and deeply moving, Nam Tiếng is an experimental short documentary problematising histories of migration by focusing on (and naming) the violence that surrounds it. The film begins with a conversation with Nguyễn Thị Kim Nhung, filmmaker James Nguyen’s artistic collaborator and aunt, who delves into the history of their family’s “southward trajectory” since the 1950s.
In Fire Tree, Gutiŋarra uses Yolŋu Sign Language and body markings to highlight his connection to Country, mapping his familial and ancestral connections. Gutiŋarra’s Gumatjj clan are people of the Birany Birany, the land of gurtha (fire). For generations, Yolŋu have painted their bodies with designs that reflect their deep relationship to place.
Watch Now You’re Speakin’ My Language online now via nowness.asia.
Now You’re Speakin’ My Language is co-presented by the Institute of Modern Art and NOWNESS Asia, and is supported by the Australia-ASEAN Council of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.