Uncanny Returns Screening of The Discarnates (1988) by Nobuhiko Obayashi, followed by a discussion with Özge Ersoy and Jean Ma, moderated by Kaitlin Chan
Doris Guo has described Nobuhiko Obayashi’s The Discarnates as a latent influence on her current solo exhibition, Back. The 1988 Japanese horror film traces the ennui of a middle-aged screenwriter named Harada. Going through a divorce and finding himself experiencing a crisis of meaning, he forges an intimate connection with the ghosts of his long-deceased parents, while also nurturing a romance with the enigmatic woman next door. Although the campy effects and melodramatic acting in The Discarnates may seem comedic on the surface, on a deeper level the film is animated by questions of familial projections, reparative fantasy, and the charged misalignments which occur in domestic relationships. As Harada continually spends time with the spirits of his mother and father, his earthly body starts decaying at an alarming rate. The Discarnates and Back explore the treacherous and seductive nature of nostalgia, as well as the manner in which mundane objects become charged with the presence of past lives.
Empty’s screening of the film will be followed by a discussion with curator Özge Ersoy (Asia Art Archive) and cinema scholar Jean Ma on The Discarnate’s intersection of sentimentality, melancholia and personal archives. Özge Ersoy is Senior Curator at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong. Her recent projects include co-curating Translations, Expansions (2022), AAA’s contribution to documenta fifteen, and The Collective School (2022–23), the inaugural exhibition at AAA’s newly renovated library. Her writings on cultural institutions and contemporary art have been included in Curating Under Pressure: International Perspectives on Negotiating Conflict and Upholding Integrity (Routledge, 2020) and The Constituent Museum: Constellations of Knowledge, Politics and Mediation (Valiz and L’Internationale, 2018), among others. She is also Managing Editor of m-est.org, an artist-centered online publishing platform. Jean Ma is the Mr. and Mrs. Hung Hing-ying Professor in the Arts at the University of Hong Kong. Her books include Melancholy Drift: Marking Time in Chinese Cinema; Still Moving: Between Cinema and Photography; and Sounding the Modern Woman: The Songstress in Chinese Cinema. Other writings have been published in Camera Obscura, Criticism, Film Quarterly, Grey Room, Journal of Chinese Cinemas, and October. Her recent monograph At the Edges of Sleep: Moving Images and Somnolent Spectators (available in an open-source digital edition) was a finalist for the 2023 Kraszna-Krausz Book Awards and the 2023 Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present Book Prize.