Ang Sookoon is currently the artist-in-residence at Objectifs as part of The Art Incubator 2012 residency program. Her residency project explores what it means to be a troubled teenager. She lives in Singapore and Brussels and was part of the recent exhibition Future Proof at the Singapore Art Museum. She works with various mediums including installations, drawing, videos and printmaking. Her video works have been exhibited in film festivals in Rotterdam, Hong Kong, Fukuoka, Oberhausen and Clemont-Ferrand. 2 of her films, ‘Mosquitoes’ and ‘Xiao Fu’ are represented by Objectifs Films.

Puiyee from Objectifs chats with Sookoon to find out more about her residency project and the thought process behind her works.  Sookoon will also be giving an artist talk at Objectifs on 5 Sep, 730pm.

Puiyee: Your films touches on topics like relationships and birthdays and I notice that though they come across as subtle, there is actually a lot of thoughtfulness behind each film.  Do you plan to create your films in this particular manner or would you say that this is your filmmaking style?

Sookoon: I love stories and in turn want to tell them but I’m not articulate in a verbal or literary sense to relay stories. My films employ other means of expression through images, texture, sound and music to replace the lack of dialogue. The subtlety mentioned comes from sentiments unspoken.  

Puiyee: Your current residency project with Objectifs deals with teenage angst and how they express themselves through social networks. What got you started on exploring this theme?

Sookoon: The idea for the project is a continuation of my recent series of artwork titled SAY HI TO FOREVER. “Say Hi To Forever” is the last blog entry posted by 20 year old model Daul Kim before she committed suicide by hanging herself. Her depression is a coming-of-age anxiety, a sense of displacement and disillusionment, which some, if not, most of us experience. Her death recalls to me my own troubles as a teen and young adult. It made me want to look at again that vulnerability and anxiety of a teen. There is a bitter-sweetness, naiveté coupled with angst and insecurity and the irony of having a future full of possibilities yet having a sense of hopelessness in a troubled teen that I wish to explore again.

Puiyee: There are a number of films that explores the topic of troubled teenagers like Larry Clark’s Kids, which touches on controversial topics like sex and drugs. How different is your approach compared to Kids? Does your film intend to show a different perspective on the meaning of ‘troubled’?

Sookoon: I love Larry Clark’s work. It’s explicit and raw and it offers perspectives that are not sugarcoated. I want to do exactly that but it doesn’t necessarily have to include sex or drugs. The feeling of discomfort under one’s own skin is trouble enough for anyone. My film intends to focus more on body language, facial expressions and social interactions to convey the emotions of a teen.   

Puiyee: Is this topic something that you relate closely to? Is there anything from your teenage years that you wish to explore in this project as well? Would you say that the troubles of this generation’s group of teenagers are similar to the troubles faced by teenagers a decade ago?

Sookoon: I didn’t feel right for most of my teen years to my early adulthood. I’m still treading water! Being an artist doesn’t help in creating a sense of security and ease. I don’t assume that the troubles faced by teens now are similar to what I experienced. Assumptions alienate rather than help to create understanding. For my project, foremost, I just want to observe. Maybe what I want to find out or confirm is that we will never be comfortable in our own skin and it starts way back in puberty. 

Puiyee: Who are the artists that have influenced you in the way you create your works?

Sookoon: The Brothers Quay are a great cinematic influence. They are masters of visual storytelling. I try to emulate with my confined technical skills what they do, telling stories with few words. It is mostly writers that conjure images in my mind through the written word, and in turn, I try to represent these images and ideas visually. 

Puiyee: Are there any upcoming topics / themes that you wish to explore in the near future?

Sookoon: Science fiction