Video installation, 35 mm film transfered to dvd, 20', 2007

This installation leads the viewer into a darkened space that resembles a camera obscura. The walls on each side of the room are covered with mirrors while a film is projected onto a screen hanging in the front. The film is a 20 minute short film shot in an old dilapidated cinema in Malaysia, the artist’s home country. It depicts the artist’s early cinema-going experience. The viewer watches the film while sitting in one of 30 red cinema seats shipped from the old Malaysian cinema seen in the film, emphasizing the complex feelings of displacement and distant memory (the artist himself has been living overseas in Taiwan for more than twenty five years).


“So you've decided to watch my film.
You enter and sit in a red chair in the dimly lit room.
The seats are old and deteriorated, full of stains and dust.
They've been shipped here from an old cinema far away that has ceased operation.
That old cinema is now rotting away in a small quiet town.
Naturally, it doesn't screen films anymore.
What you are watching now was filmed at that cinema.
It is actually my dream.
However, the old cinema in my dream has been torn down long ago.
I simply met another one at another location.
It seemed to be calling out to me.
“Come film me! Come film me quickly!”
Tsai Ming-liang


Tsai Ming-Liang: I often dream of old theaters.

In Kuching, Malaysia, where I was born and raised, there are about 7 or 8 of these old theaters. Starting from when I was three, my grandfather would take me to the movies. One theater, I remember, was called Audien. The ceiling was very high up and there were many fans hanging above. There were more then a thousand seats and the drapes on the side doors would drift about...
The ticket clerk of Audien was a crippled man. Usually, once a kid grows to a certain height, the kid would have to buy tickets. From what o remember, no matter how tall I grew; grampa would only buy one ticket and take me in, right in front of the clerk. He always looks mean and I would always be scared of him... Today, these old theaters are all gone and vanished. 20 years away from home and I seldom think about them. What is strange to me is that in my dreams, I still see Audien from time to time.
While shooting What Time is it There?, we needed to shoot some theater scenes. In the outskirts of yung-Ho, where I lived, I found Fu-Ho theater and it seemed so familiar. Three months after shooting, the theater closed down. One day, I ran into the owner of the theater and he told me the theater was ready to be torn down. I immediately turned to my producer, producer LIANG, and asked him if we had any money to rent the theater. "Why?" he asked. And I answered, "To shoot a movie!"
Now thinking about it, I feel as if it is the old theater calling out to me, "Come film me!"

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