The film 'doctor' is in

Home-grown film-maker Jeremy Chua (above, right) is one of 11 "film therapists" at the film therapy clinic at The Substation; and artist Ang Song Ming's interactive work, Piece For 350 Onomatopoeic Molecules.
Home-grown film-maker Jeremy Chua (above, right) is one of 11 "film therapists" at the film therapy clinic at The Substation; and artist Ang Song Ming's interactive work, Piece For 350 Onomatopoeic Molecules.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Home-grown film-maker Jeremy Chua is one of 11 "film therapists" at the film therapy clinic at The Substation; and artist Ang Song Ming's interactive work, Piece For 350 Onomatopoeic Molecules (above).
Home-grown film-maker Jeremy Chua is one of 11 "film therapists" at the film therapy clinic at The Substation; and artist Ang Song Ming's interactive work, Piece For 350 Onomatopoeic Molecules (above).ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

A clinic for film therapy has set up shop at The Substation this month to dispense cinematic knowledge and prescribe films for well-being.

The pop-up initiative by home- grown film-maker Jeremy Chua, where film-makers such as Sherman Ong and K. Rajagopal provide consultations and prescribe films as salve for troubled hearts and minds, is part of the independent arts centre's programme for the month.

Themed "a home for the arts" after the centre's tagline, the programme also includes a variety of classes, from Brazilian toe massage to computational poetry. They are run on a barter system and participants may choose to exchange items such as a book, a recipe or share a skill.

There is also an exhibition of visual art works that are both playful and invite play. They include artist Ang Song Ming's Piece For 350 Onomatopoeic Molecules - an interactive art installation where the viewer can throw plastic and ping-pong balls at a band set and guitars to make sounds.

The programme is part of ongoing explorations by the centre to find its footing amid the changing arts and cultural landscape where new arts spaces have opened up and the perception of arts and culture is evolving.

  • BOOK IT /A HOME FOR THE ARTS

  • WHERE: The Substation, 45 Armenian Street

    WHEN: Till Nov 30, 6 to 10pm (Tuesdays to Fridays), noon to 10pm (weekends), closed on Mondays

    ADMISSION: Free, register for activities at www.ahomeforthearts.org

In an earlier experiment in September, the centre's space and programmes were taken over by the art collective Post-Museum.

The curatorial direction for this month, says the centre's director Alan Oei, is a response to what he sees as increasing state emphasis on cultural placemaking - fostering connections between people and a place through community-driven arts and culture activities - and what this means for the centre, which calls itself "a home for the arts".

His approach has been to embrace cultural placemaking fully to provoke thought about "what we want out of the arts".

He says: "We have artworks that are all about activities, games and fun. It's fully measurable, fully pleasurable and fully functional.

"But there's a certain ambiguity we want people to consider and, hopefully, when you're playing with the art or watching people play, you are doing it non-reflexively and considering your relationship to the arts."

On their own, most of the art pieces and activities were not deliberately made or initiated to critique cultural placemaking.

The classes, for example, question the value of textbook knowledge and the privileged position of teachers by offering lessons on less common forms of skills and life experiences which are taught by people from all walks of life.

Chua's film clinic, on the other hand, is inspired by his experience of having watched the Edward Yang film, A One And A Two (2000), seven times because he was a projectionist for the film at a Singapore screening of the work a few years ago. He says: "It ended up being therapeutic because the dysfunctional family in the film helped me understand the dynamics in my family better."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2016, with the headline 'The film 'doctor' is in'. Print Edition | Subscribe