Collaging Time - intertwined connections through personal and archive materials

by Hangfeng Chen

Research & project

Hangfeng Chen has explored the potency of reappropriating archival materials (footage and image) with narratives, to find his own positionality as a visual artist and filmmaker. He incorporated collage as a way of thinking and storytelling in his filmmaking, allowing him to explore his subjective tone of voice with an experimental approach. He considers found archival materials as collective memory, while his own materials as personal memory. Memory is often fragmented and incomplete, collage revisions this aspect of memory by creating a visual representation that reflects how personal and collective memories could be interconnected. The research has mobilized him from exoticism in relation to invasive species, to the absurdity of human exceptionalism. It encompasses archival materials from the pre-discovery Chinese voyages and the Dutch Golden Age to the found images of Neo-colonialism in Africa. While he was searching for invasive species, the coronavirus collided with his journey. Therefore, his research has evolved by shifting the focus to his personal experience, particularly during the Shanghai Lockdown.

The ongoing project titled Retinal Struggle delves into the filmmaker's personal encounter with the Covid-19 pandemic, employing a composite approach that intertwines personal recollections and archival materials. Through the juxtaposition of a collage of surreal visuals sourced from social media during the Shanghai Lockdown, alongside reappropriated footage from the historical Killing Sparrow campaign, the project critically examines and questions the correlation between past and contemporary dilemmas stemming from human-centered perspectives within an autocratic system.

Simultaneously, the research on the concept of exoticism serves as a catalyst for the ongoing project The Intertwined Dream. Herein, the filmmaker constructs a dream narrative that allows his consciousness to exist between the embodiment of a chameleon and his own self. Navigating the realms of both his childhood memories and recent experiences, the work traverses from oceanic voyages to the Pre-discovery Map of Africa. Eventually, the filmmaker finds himself immersed in a trance-like state, amidst a collage of glitches interwoven with previously encountered imagery. Employing a methodology characterized by multilayered montage and animation accompanied by a voice-over, the project seeks to explore the interconnectedness among diverse historical temporalities.

Hangfeng Chen

Hangfeng Chen

Hangfeng Chen, originally from Shanghai, was born right after the cultural revolution, and grew up within an economically booming and fast changing society in China. He’s educated as a painter at the Shanghai Fine Art College, a self-taught graphic designer, and a filmmaker. Reappropriation has always been a method in his work, which made him move between fine arts and cinema, particularly in the field of papercut, collage, and animation.

Since 2017 he has been living and working between Shanghai and Amsterdam. His works have been shown and collected by various galleries and museums across the continents, including Rockbund Museum in Shanghai, SinArts gallery, Lissa Art Museum, Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, and the White Rabbit Museum in Sydney.

His films have been shown at CinemAsia in Amsterdam; MADATAC Festival in Madrid; N-Minutes Video Art Festival in Helsinki, and The 57th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (by MIACA program). His research during the master of film program is about how to treat moving image and sound as Collage, or Collage as a way of thinking and storytelling. He reappropriates and juxtaposes found footage with his own materials, in order to question the nuisances of human desire and control in a globalized environment.

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