There is that incredible sense of forlorn when you look at the polaroids, presented by the artist, of old cinemas in Singapore and Malaysia. The feeling you get, looking at the National Library one last glance, or seeing it in pictures and thinking about the tunnel that sits at its present site. These old cinemas, some jilted, some disused or some derelict suggests the side-effects of consumerism and mass culture. Run down just isn’t strong enough to describe them. Grief, or sadness would probably be better. The work isn’t as overwhelming or cinematic as Cinema Paradiso (1988), directed by Giuseppe Tornatore where one grows out of dreams; instead, we are both drawn towards these strange buildings that once promised dreams and more, but kept away by the small print size of the polaroid, unable to see details, unable to remember. The artist is successful here, to make such buildings interesting again by placing them as a set, a historical survey of the cinemas’ histories more than facebook could ever do credit, by setting the series in the arts house, and accompanied by Popular pastiche of movie posters and film stills, ridden by the artist persona, adapting, appropriating and reliving. It reminds us of the importance of sentimentality, like movies do, nostalgia like your old class photos, and the cruel pragmatism of capitalism – if it doesn’t make money, it should go.
Filem-Filem-Filem is an exhibition of photos, prints and videos inspired by Ming’s search for old cinemas in Singapore and Malaysia, commissioned for the Singapore Fringe Festival 2008. It was last shown at the Arts House in Jan 2008.