Dear Kim Sisters in 1959 / Language / So Many Love Stories © Union Quoi? International·e
On the weekend of September 16 and 17, 2023, AWARE welcomed Union Quoi? International·e at Villa Vassilieff for an event entitled “Murmures de diseuses” to celebrate European Heritage Days. This intervention focused on activating AWARE’s space and extending its role as a center for documentation, research, and mediation through open workshops that question matrilineal transmission. A set of four short films was continuously shown on the first floor, all directed by members of Union Quoi? International·e. Three of them are now available for you to watch online.
This program is accessible for one month (from November 2nd to December 2nd), except for the first film which is permanent.
The films are introduced by Camille Simon Baudry, a member of Union Quoi? Internationale·e and the author of the first film.
« May my story be beautiful and unwind like a long thread… » Leslie Marmon Silko as quoted by Trinh T. Minh-ha in Woman, Native, Other, p.148 (Indiana University Press)
SO MANY LOVE STORIES · Camille Simon Baudry · 7 min · 2023 · Anglais avec sous-titres FR ou EN activables
Waves, and then silence, and the sound of your voice. The first words I ever read from Theresa Hak Kyung Cha were probably those quoted by Trinh T. Minh-ha in her book Woman, Native, Other. It was last spring. But my story with Cha might be older. We do not choose to bond, nor to be crossed by someone’s work. Maybe two years ago, when Yeongseo, who does the voice of this film, made me understand the importance of Cha Hak Kyung, there was already this “wind passing through our flesh”: the deep feeling, undoubtedly quite sororal, of solidarity, that something was happening. We do not choose our mothers. We experience them, we recognize them. The very little that I knew about Cha and her work already struck me with an acute intensity, not because it was a “shock” to meet her or to discover her work, but because it was a “shock” to see how the little I knew was enough to understand so many miles of common and private stories: all the times of writing, of wakefulness, by the light of a lamp, the evenings of pain, the determination… In Minor Feelings, Cathy Park Hong clearly evokes the truth or the authentic and direct character of Cha’s writing, her way of grasping languages, to circumvent their modalities, deconstruct the fantasy of perfect English and construct her own mythology. She also spoke about the circumstances of Cha’s death, which violence, unqualified, unrecognized, still constitutes today an open wound in the imaginary of Asian-American women, and daughters. I wanted to make a film that allows this heritage to breathe, a mouth-to-mouth, like the one made by Cha while reciting the Korean vowels in her video poem Mouth to Mouth, from among the mists of television’s static, before the sound of water emerges. In one of the extracts from Woman, Native, Other that we chose to introduce Murmures de diseuses, these words from Trinh T. Minh-ha precede an extract from Dictée, the iconic Cha Hak Kyung book: “To listen carefully is to preserve. But to preserve is to burn, for understanding means creating.” To show someone that we’ve listened to them, that we’ve understood them, we have to respond, and to respond, we have to say something else, something that is intimately impacted by our exchange: the expression, undoubtedly peripheral but eminently vivid, of the sensitive world that we share. This is how I conceived this film.
DEAR KIMSISTERS IN 1959 · Chaelin Jeon · 17 min · 2020 · Anglais sous-titré français
Chaelin is one of the founding members of Union Quoi? International·e. Her film Dear Kimsisters quickly crystallized the direction of the collective as it embraces the issues we are going through: those of migrations, the experience of racism, language, sexism, Western cultural and political hegemony, stereotypes… What are the possibilities for a blossoming for us who are constantly portrayed as “other”? By dint of being in the shadow of the West, this dissimetry often leads to displacement: for Chaelin, from South Korea to France, where she studied, for the Kim Sisters, in 1959, from South Korea to the USA. The fate of these “sisters” resonates with Chaelin’s present. Across time and space, she questions them. How did they come to this decision? For what reasons ? How did they experience it? Have they consciously chosen to repeat all the Asian stereotypes so awaited by the American gaze? What were they doing while men were seeking to take photos of the dark side of the Moon and Tibetan women were uniting for Tibetan independence against China?
Just as with her sculptures or installations, Chaelin creates a multidimensional space of reflection, articulating it, through editing, archive images and her own collages, in order to put at the center the long-silenced perspective of Asian women driven by the same desire to get free. Sook-ja, Ai-ja and Min-ja find themselves surrounded by images from magazines, various texts, and photographs. Their voices mingle with Chaelin’s and their melodies melt within the faces of so many other women, both to report to them and to finally speak to each other, in a deep and sororal gesture, which pushes us towards a better future.
LANGUAGE · Hiiona Choi · 10 min · 2022 · Coréen sous-titré français ou anglais
Without being a direct address, like the two previous films, Language raises the question of phantom transmissions, of internal contagions within the family unit, strained by the complexity of communication within the parental couple as with their children. The model of the heterosexual cisgender couple is taken in reverse in this critical operetta with an all-female cast: a straight couple, in white, about to get married, and a mysterious straight couple, in black, are caught in a setting as if on a dissection table. We quickly understand that Hiiona is not trying to dream of an “ideal couple” but that she wishes to be part of a much more lesbian tradition of satire, where the psychology of the dominant model finds itself auscultated. What have we learned from these couples we know? How do we navigate its hegemony? By showing the way in which these couples communicate with difficulty and seek to reason in vain rather than to “resonate”, Hiiona also points out the “failed” transmissions in which we are involved. But the idea that these transmissions (and the communication on which they are based) “fail” is not necessarily so serious or burdensome, it is there above all to challenge us on our relationship with others, and on what we wish to experience and transmit. Language reminds me of the more mature way we played with our dolls when we were young, but already teenagers, when we began to be seen from a certain gender perspective, which means “sexualized”, anticipated as future women to marry. Perhaps we need to keep this playful and critical spirit from back then: relearn from our “us” from the past this singularly effective way of digesting the society in which we live and dissolving it.