Yason Banal, Sky Hopinka, and Cici Wu “Miffed Blue Return”

47 Canal (291 Grand St.)

poster for Yason Banal, Sky Hopinka, and Cici Wu “Miffed Blue Return”
[Image: Sky Hopinka "Cloudless Blue Egress of Summer" (still)]

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MIFFED BLUE RETURN is an exhibition of moving image installations by Yason Banal, Sky Hopinka, and Cici Wu, each of which addresses the unstable currents that link remembrance, place, and aftermath.

Filmed in Hong Kong and Minneapolis, Cici Wu’s Unfinished Return of Yu Man Hon stars Jonathan Chang—a child actor known for his role in the Taiwanese classic Yi Yi (dir. Edward Yang, 2000)—as a grown-up Yu Man Hon, an autistic boy who crossed the Hong Kong–Shenzhen border into mainland China on August 24, 2000. Occurring not long after the 1997 handover, Man Hon’s unsolved disappearance remains a vivid memory for many in Hong Kong, and has come to symbolize the vanishing of local culture.

Wu’s film subverts familiar interpretations of Man Hon, positioning him not as an avatar of death and loss, but instead as a celestial being. Wu’s camera, like a paper lantern, animistically trails the protagonist as he returns to the material world. Man Hon revisits places of sentiment and attachment, resurfacing lost memories of his own disappearance. In the process, the unfinished return of a city’s sovereignty is associated with the state of incomplete reconstitution that characterizes ghostliness.

Cloudless Blue Egress of Summer, by Sky Hopinka, likewise examines the porous connection between environment and memory in the afterlife of colonialism. Fort Marion, also known as Castillo de San Marcos, was built in 1672, and is located in St. Augustine, Florida. It was used as a prison during the Seminole Wars in the 1830s, and again towards the end of the Indian Wars in the late 1880s. Richard Henry Pratt, as the prison’s warden, developed protocols of forced acculturation that were spread, through boarding schools, across the United States, manifesting his belief “that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.”

Each section of the two-channel video recounts an aspect of Fort Marion’s history, from Seminole chieftain Coacoochee’s account of escaping, with nineteen other Seminole, from the fort, to ledger drawings made by prisoners given pen and paper in order to sketch recollections from the plains. The work traces the persistence of presence and memory despite the colonial paradigms of confinement and incarceration. In the ebb and flow of the ocean, which is overlooked by the fort, the artist develops a parallel, incomplete narrative thread, finding hope in what is innately unstable and effortlessly resolute.

Yason Banal’s jostling installation For a long time the glitch remained motionless…and in disbelief! centers upon the architecture of the Manila Film Center, built to provide a venue for the first Manila International Film Festival (MIFF) in 1982, a soft power extravaganza organized at the height of Ferdinand Marcos’ plunderous three-decade presidency of the Philippines. Scaffolding tragically collapsed during the brutalist design’s hurried construction, carried out during typhoon season, fatally trapping at least 169 workers under quick-drying cement.

Banal has decelerated 47 Canal’s WiFi to 1 mbps—accessible to the public through the “MIFFED” network (password: MIFFED19)—replicating the internet speed of the Philippines, reportedly the slowest in Southeast Asia. Investigating his concept of the “quasinternet,” defined by its lag, compromised accessibility, and homonormative and homonationalist content, Banal scrutinizes the buffered architectonics of MIFF and the Manila Film Center, situating these in dialogue with concerns related to developmentalism and neocolonialism in the Philippines today.

In each artwork, time is cyclical, as the action of returning reframes the present and future.

Yason Banal lives and works in Manila, Philippines. His practice traverses installation, photography, video, performance, text, curating, and pedagogy, employing critical and poetic strategies amidst intersections and frictions as well as mechanisms and mysteries among seemingly divergent systems. His works have been exhibited widely including the Tate, Frieze Art Fair, Vargas Museum, Christie’s, Singapore Biennale, Shanghai Biennale, Asia Pacific Triennial, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, and more recently at Daegu Art Factory, Asia Film Archive and Venice Architecture Biennale. He obtained a BA in Film at the University of the Philippines, MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London, residencies at AIT Tokyo and CCA Singapore, and visiting lectureships at London Metropolitan University and Tokyo National University of Fine Arts. He is currently assistant professor at the University of the Philippines Film Institute and head of its Film Center.

Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk/Pechanga) was born and raised in Ferndale, Washington and spent a number of years in Palm Springs and Riverside, California, Portland, Oregon, and is currently based out of Vancouver B.C. and Milwaukee, WI. In Portland he studied and taught chinuk wawa, a language indigenous to the Lower Columbia River Basin. His video work centers around personal positions of Indigenous homeland and landscape, designs of language as containers of culture, and the play between the known and the unknowable. He received his BA from Portland State University in Liberal Arts and his MFA in Film, Video, Animation, and New Genres from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and currently teaches at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia. His work was a part of the 2016 Wisconsin Triennial and the 2017 Whitney Biennial. He was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University in 2018-2019 and Sundance Art of Nonfiction Fellow for 2019.

Cici Wu lives and works in New York City. She has recently had solo exhibitions at Empty Gallery, Hong Kong; Bonnevalle, Noisy-le-sec, France; and 47 Canal, New York. Her work has also been exhibited at Magician Space, Beijing; Triangle, Brooklyn; and Taipei Artist Village, Taipei. Wu is the co-founder of PRACTICE, New York, a project space and residency program. Wu is represented by 47 Canal, New York.



from October 30, 2019 to December 20, 2019

Opening Reception on 2019-10-30 from 18:00 to 20:00

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