Universal Noise: A conversation between Mark Kremer and Tiong Ang



Tiong Ang is developing a work entitled The Second Hands for the 9th Bucharest Biennial 2020–21. This is a collective enterprise. Under the name Tiong Ang & Company, he leads a core team of ±15 people, which for certain parts of the work will be expanded with a group of dancers and extras. In terms of intention, The Second Hands is a philosophical work that draws a sort of parallel line with the events in Bucharest and Timisoara at the end of 1989, leading to the deposition of Nicolai Ceausescu and the end of Communist rule, but in today’s world, 2020–21. At that time, we in the West were able to follow these important events. What was special about the Romanian Revolution was how close the media and reality came together and almost merged. The Romanian State Television broadcasted live images of a dictator who appeased the masses while gunshots, clamour, and chaos in the background wiped out his story.

Rebellion, revolution, and the celebration of freedom are imagined as moments of passage in Tiong Ang’s work of art: that is the intention. This is not made explicit, the indicated line is fictitious, but it is palpable and emerges in descriptions of the project. Essentially, The Second Hands is conceived as a large film production, divided into five films under the direction of different makers. The themes of the five films are strongly interconnected: political oppression (Ola Hassanain), mass demonstration (Esther Arribas, Bart van Dam), coming of age in uncertain times (Fey Lehiane), a trip through Europe to Romania filmed as a road movie (Robert Wittendorp) and finally the Congregation, a collective performance in Bucharest (Tiong Ang) as an Ode to Freedom.

Because of the corona situation, Ang had to postpone The Second Hands. In March I spoke to him for the first time about his project.* Just before that, he had to stop all the film productions. In June, Ang proposes to talk further. A new momentum has emerged with waiting as a motto, now that the opening of the work in Bucharest has been postponed for a year. Let’s deepen, he suggests, our conversation by juxtaposing the Bucharest plan with another complex work: Universality: Decorum of Thought and Desire (Guangzhou, 2015). Ang wants to use that installation, whose set-up resembled that of The Second Hands – eight different films were made for Universality as part of a fictional evening programme, a full night of television – as a template for his new project. I suggest to also consider a third presentation, that of a young Ang at the Havana Biennale in 1994. His participation in that biennial, at the very start of his career, was a formative experience of a ‘revolutionary’ manifestation in a changing art world. (MK)

  • Year: 2020
  • Volume: 4 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 15
  • DOI: 10.5334/mjfar.84
  • Published on 9 Dec 2020
  • Peer Reviewed