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Lecture: Pontianak & Her Sisters
In this talk, Adeline Kueh will look at primarily the conceptual category of ghost stories centering on the construct of the ‘pontianak’ (a female ghost) and her ‘sisterly’ counterparts within the contexts of folklore, fiction and film. The emphasis is more on how urban legends are linked to the older Malayan context (with Malaya being formerly a geopolitical entity consisting of modern-day Singapore and Malaysia). The question that I am interested in asking is not whether these female ghosts and categories reveal or distort the reality of women but whether they actively construct and define the ways in which femininity is conceived.1 It is my opinion that they do reflect, to some extent, the mimetic reality of a particular period, especially the socio-historical concerns and turmoil even if these examples are of a selected few. Jeffrey Cohen had suggested that the “monster is born only at a metaphoric crossroads, as an embodiment of a certain cultural moment… and the monster’s body literally incorporates fear, desire, anxiety and fantasy…”2 This talk is a work in progress and is part on an ongoing academic research.
1. Lynda Nead, Myths of Sexuality: Representations of Women in Victorian Britain. United Kingdom: Basil Blackwell Ltd, 1988.
2. Jeffrey Cohen, "Monster Culture (Seven Theses)" in Monster Theory: Reading Culture, Cohen, J. (ed.), Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press, 1996, p.4.
About the Speaker
Adeline Kueh makes installations, photography and sound works that reconsider the relationship we have with things and rituals around us. Her works are imbued with a sense of desire and longing, and act as modern-day totems that explore personal histories and overlooked moments.
Adeline has produced installations and interventionist projects within the collaborative MatriXial Technologies in old boys network 01 ((Hamburg, 2001), Next 5 Minutes 4: International Festival of Tactical Media (Amsterdam, 2003), and Version >03 Digital Art Convergence (Chicago, 2003). She has also exhibited in United Kingdom, USA, The Netherlands, Turkey and Australia. Rooted in critical studies, her research interests include notions of monstrosity within Southeast Asian contexts, architecture, fashion and the future of cinema. Adeline has chaired and presented at a number of cultural studies conferences in UK, Australia, Finland, Hungary, Singapore and Malaysia.
Currently a Senior Lecturer with the MA Fine Arts programme at LASALLE College of the Arts, she is also a consultant for a number of research, lifestyle, film, art and design projects including Hermes Singapore in 2016.
Since 2001, Adeline has been the driving force in advocating interdisciplinary rigour in contemporary research practice in both postgraduate & undergraduate studies in the Faculty of Fine Arts at the college. She has been actively supervising a significant number of postgraduate dissertations & research practice including luminaries in the contemporary Singapore arts, design & media scene including a Cultural Medallion winner & President’s Young Talent Award winners. Adeline has co-curated graduation showcases (with Ian Woo) for the MA programme and has spearheaded Open Studios, industry & outreach projects with the alumni community of the college.
[Image from Sumpah Pontianak (1958)]
[Part of Survey: Space, Sharing, Haunting, curated by Post-Museum]
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