Apologies and Other Excuses – Some Works by James T. Hong
This screening programme represents some of James T. Hong’s ongoing artistic and theoretical interests qua obsessions. While heterogeneous, the selected works all display Hong’s fascination with alternative “angels of history” and conflicting regimes of historiography and truth. Some works are designed for slow contemplation, while others are calculated experiments in entertainment and provocation. As a synchronic slice of Hong’s oeuvre, this selection gives hints to both Hong’s back catalogue and to his future projects and preoccupations.
Originally designed as a video installation, the first piece, entitled Apologies, is a compilation of modern political apologies and a timeline of political progress as unrepentant recidivism and contrite repetition. The second piece, Cutaways of Jiang Chun Gen – Forward And Back Again, is Hong’s latest in an ongoing series of documentations concerning Japanese biological warfare in China. Here he focuses on the daily life of one elderly Chinese biological warfare victim. The third, perhaps most dissimilar, piece is a four minute trailer for an uncompleted kinderfilm about the philosopher Baruch Spinoza. This work provides a welcome respite from the sometimes-tortuous explorations of the preceding works. Finally, the last selected piece, The Turner Film Diaries, is an educational film from an alternate, dystopian future, where the fantasies of American racism reach their ultimate, horrifying conclusion.