Rethinking the histories of Southeast Asia in late capitalism

Objectifs Film Club x Walter Benjamin Reading Group: Kasiterit by Riar Rizaldi x ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’ by Walter Benjamin
Wed 14 Jun 2023, 7.30pm to 8.30pm
Venue: Objectifs Workshop Space

Organised in collaboration with the NUS Malay Studies Department

Free admission, please RSVP here.
Please note that as this is a film x reading group, participants will be required to finish the reading beforehand in order to partake in the programme. The reading will be emailed to participants upon registration, and the film will be screened during the programme itself.

Walter Benjamin was a German-Jewish writer and philosopher whose influential work on art, history, modernity, and capitalism has become a protean and prophetic lens for our collective past, present and future. Although he wrote mainly about the ruins and emerging cultures of Paris and Berlin, the essence of his arguments about how we write and experience the historical present, how we experience art, and how we must engage with the relentless onslaught of capitalism are relevant to us living at a time defined by both ruin and perpetual states of emergence.

Key themes that animate Walter Benjamin’s well-known writings can be appreciated in Southeast Asian filmmaking. The Objectifs Film Club x Walter Benjamin Reading Group is a space for re-reading Benjamin’s work through Southeast Asian films about cultural memory, collective pasts and futures, post-colonialism legacies, and affect in an age of information overload.

In this session, participants will watch a screening of Kasiterit by Riar Rizaldi before engaging in a discussion of the film alongside the ideas and arguments crafted by Walter Benjamin in ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’. More information on Kasiterit can be found below.

The session will be led by Alicia Izharuddin, with Riar Rizaldi in attendance.

About Kasiterit:
Natasha, a solar-powered A.I. voice machine, traces its genealogy and the truth of its origin. This investigation leads Natasha to meet its ancestor: the inorganic tin extracted from Bangka Island, Indonesia.

About the facilitator:
Alicia Izharuddin is currently a Senior Visiting Fellow in Gender and Sexuality at the National University of Singapore where she teaches courses on film and gender in Southeast Asia. She is committed to the public engagement of academia through organising reading groups in bookshops and women’s rights organisations. An interdisciplinary scholar in gender studies by training, she has taught at the University of Malaya, Harvard University, and held prestigious fellowships at the Harvard Divinity School and Leiden University.

About the filmmaker:
Riar Rizaldi works as an artist and filmmaker. His artistic practice focuses mostly on the relationship between capital and technology, labour and nature, worldviews, genre cinema, and the possibility of theoretical fiction. His works have been shown at various international film festivals (including Locarno, IFFR, Viennale, BFI London, Cinema du Reel, Vancouver, etc) as well as NTT InterCommunication Center Tokyo, Centre Pompidou Paris, Times Museum Guangzhou, Istanbul Biennial, Taipei Biennial, Venice Architecture Biennale, Biennale Jogja, and National Gallery of Indonesia amongst others. His film Tellurian Drama (2020) won Silver Screen Award for Best Short Film at Singapore International Film Festival 2020 and awarded Honourable Mention at DOK Leipzig 2021.

About the NUS Malay Studies Department:
The NUS Malay Studies department aims to promote intellectual awareness to the concerns of the globalised Malay world through world-class teaching and research. It is home to the interdisciplinary synthesis of local, decolonial, and western approaches to Malay cultures of Southeast Asia and beyond. The department also maintains strong links with the local community in terms of policy studies, public intellectual engagement and social service.

About the Objectifs Film Library:
The Objectifs Film Library is an initiative by Objectifs that aims to be a resource for film lovers in Singapore and the region. Currently, the collection is focused on short films from Southeast Asia.

Users will be able to rent some of these films to watch in the comfort of their homes, and a wider selection is available exclusively at our centre.

Access the Objectifs Film Library here.

The Objectifs Film Library is supported by