Insomniac Nights and an Aesthetics of Passivity: On Tsai Ming-liang's Walker Series

8:00 – 9:30 pm | Sep 3rd
Outdoor Stage | šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énk Square North of the Vancouver Art Gallery

Tsai Ming-liang’s eight-part Walker series (2012–2018) traverses performance art and film, internet video, and film festival-oriented cinema, held together by the itinerant figure of Lee Kang-sheng dressed as a monk. Tsai’s work carries the sense of the cinematic, as experiential encounters, into arenas outside the cinema theatre. Through the post-retirement Walker series, I consider Tsai’s ever-further alienation of cinematic conventions and expectations and a continued pursuit of an “aesthetics of passivity” within the illusory form of the moving-image. Guided by Levinasian themes of passivity, fatigue, and insomnia, I read the ethico-political possibility of on-screen passivity and passive spectatorship through scenes in the series and the 2016 No No Sleep exhibition at the MoNTUE in Taipei. From a pandemic time where self-isolating is a passive action and form of responsibility for the other, waiting together becomes a temporal practice of the will that has collective, political potential.

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About the Artist

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Elizabeth Wijaya

Assistant Professor of East Asian Cinema of the University of Toronto

Elizabeth Wijaya is an Assistant Professor of East Asian Cinema in the Department of Visual Studies and Cinema Studies Institute of the University of Toronto. She is the Director of the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies at the Asian Institute, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy. She was a President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities) and received her PhD from the Department of Comparative Literature at Cornell University. She is working on a book manuscript on the visible and invisible worlds of trans-Chinese cinemas across East and Southeast Asia. She has published in Derrida Today, Discourse, Parallax and edited volumes. She is a co-founder of E&W Films and the Associate Producer of Taste (2021), directed by Lê Bảo, which received the Special Jury Award, Encounters Competition at the Berlinale Film Festival and the Grand Prize at the Taipei Film Festival.

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