Crossovers – A Filmic Exploration of History, Stories and Human Remains

OCAT Shanghai, Shanghai, China
14 Jun 2015 - 16 Aug 2015

Crossovers – A Filmic Exploration of History, Stories and Human Remains

John Akomfrah, Peripeteia (still), 2012. Video. 

OCAT Shanghai announces Crossovers—A filmic exploration of history, stories and human remains, organized in collaboration with Arthub.

This group exhibition, curated by Francesca Girelli and Davide Quadrio, looks into the role of the artist in shaping and reshaping a collective visual memory, the mechanism behind the creation of new myths and the ways in which both circularity of time, or its linear interpretation, can be outwitted by the subjectivity of a video editing timeline.

The project is presented as an itinerary, a path that reveals subtle overlaps between history and fictional reconstructions, traded images from the past—their leftovers, in the contemporary tense—and appropriated, conflictive narratives.

Without clinging onto the past, or engaging in an over speculation about the rights and wrongs of images appropriation, Crossovers attempts to explore the process of mythologisation. Collective narratives are made of the gaps and cracks that divide reality from the invisible, they feed on our fear and fascination towards the unfathomable and, just as the cinematic experience, they conjure up time.

Part of the works presented employ archival images to manufacture new narratives, whereas others invest particular moments in history—neglected within the contextually produced collective memory—with a brand new visual identity.

Slowness as a strategy
One of the cornerstones in the fabrication of myths is the idea of the journey. Mimicking the dynamics of transit, the exhibition’s contrived itinerary begins and ends with two narratives steeped in the analog era. Thomas Sauvin‘s archive of negatives—saved from a destiny of annihilation in Beijing’s recycling plants—is a unique photographic portrait of the Chinese Capital in the decades following the Cultural Revolution. Eric Baudelaire‘s Anabasis deals on the contrary with the lack of personal images. Largely inspired by the fukeiron (“theory of landscape” in Japanese), the work narrates the story of a fugitive leader of the Japanese Red Army and her daughter, by filming contemporary panoramas of Tokyo and Beirut blended in with archival footage, TV clips and film excerpts. Both Sauvin’s accumulation of images and Baudelaire’s lack of visual representation of the self, successfully manage to bring to light aspects of social structures and mechanisms of power that transcend the individual recount. The two works are linked in an uroboric continuity, which transforms the exhibition’s itinerary in a looping trail.

The path between these two gatekeeping narratives is flanked by a group of storytellers – Yto Barrada, João Penalva, Ho Tzu Nyen, John Akomfrah – who demand our mindful attention. When we adapt to the cinematic time, their artistic reconstructions of temporality are capable of pinning us down to the present moment, refraining the mind from being hijacked into its own mental time travel.

Our fast-paced daily lives find us overwhelmed by the amount of decisions to be undertaken within ever shorter windows of time, while our attention span is shrinking toward the zero vector.

The exhibition is hence an invitation to slacken. Slowness is here a critical medium that intensifies our temporal and spatial experiences, and helps us to register the multiple layers of time, history, and motion that constitute our present.

The films featured in the exhibition will start at a pre-scheduled time to provide the public with the opportunity of programming in advance the vision of a certain work, and to visit the show several times. We hope in this way to encourage visitors to engage with the videos presented respecting their entirety, fully enjoining the cinematic experience.

OCT Contemporary Art Terminal (OCAT) Shanghai is a non-profit art institution focusing on new media art and architecture, located in the Suzhou Creek area of Zhabei district, Shanghai.

Arthub is a Shanghai-based and Hong Kong registered not-for-profit platform devoted to contemporary art creation and diffusion.

Special thanks to Kokaistudios for providing the exhibition design; WTI, New Media Art Production Partner; SHANGHAI REALMAKE SERVICE CO., Ltd; Shanghai Lead Advertising Co., Ltd.

Organizer: OCAT Shanghai
Co-Organizers: OCT Land (Shanghai) Investment Ltd. and Arthub


OCAT Shanghai
30 Wen’an Road



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