Zombies, UFOs, & an enigmatic singer: 5 Contemporary Art X Cinema films


The ‘Contemporary Art X Cinema’ free film program at the Australian Cinémathèque, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Brisbane from 23 June – 26 July 2023 showcases films by multi-disciplinary artists whose practices move between the white cube of the gallery and the black box of cinema. From satirical musicals and heart-wrenching biopics to experimental films that push the boundaries of narrative storytelling, here are five films by artists that blur the line between contemporary art and cinema.

A Dream of Wholeness in Parts 2021

2022 Turner Prize-nominee Sin Wai Kin combines visual imagery from traditional Chinese dramaturgy with references to contemporary drag, music and poetry, to create fantastical dreamscapes that deconstruct conventional representations of gender and present alternate states of being. Referring to philosopher Chuang Tzu’s ‘Dream of the Butterfly’, the dreamy visual poem, A Dream of Wholeness in Parts, takes place in a cinematic world where three characters – each played by the artist – contemplate their being-in-the-world. Screens: 8.30pm, Friday 23 June & 1.00pm, Saturday 15 July

Production still from A Dream of Wholeness in Parts 2021 / Director: Sin Wai Kin / Image courtesy: Sin Wai Kin, Chi-Wen Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan

Delete Beach 2016

British artist and filmmaker Phil Collins uses photography and video to comment on the fluidity of popular culture and its ability to transcend language, social status and locality. In the experimental short film Delete Beach, Collins engages with the cinematic genre of anime to explore themes relating to social alienation, contemporary technology, and cultural revolution. The film takes place in a dystopian future where carbon-based energy is illegal and follows a young schoolgirl as she joins an anti-capitalist resistance group in an attempt to overthrow a totalitarian regime. Screens: 2.30pm, Wednesday 18 June

Production still from Delete Beach 2016 / Director: Phil Collins / Image courtesy: Shady Lane Productions

Love is a Treasure 2002

UFOs, killers in the corridor and wild wind storms all feature in Finnish artist Eiija-Liisa Ahtila’s five-part episodic film, Love is a Treasure. Part drama, part fantasy, the film brings together the stories of five women, each of whom perceive the world through a unique lens. Using the cinematic qualities of film to convey a sense of the worlds that the women are living in, Ahtila’s visual opus evocatively explores the murky territory between reality and the imagination. Love is a Treasure 2002 will screen from a new 2K digital restoration. Screens: 1.30pm, Sunday 9 July & 3.30pm, Saturday 15 July

Production still from Love is a Treasure 2002 / Director: Eija-Liisa Ahtila / Image courtesy: Crystal Eye

Looking for Oum Kulthum 2017

A fresh take on the traditional biopic, Iranian artist Shirin Neshat’s Looking for Oum Kulthum tells the story of an Iranian artist and filmmaker living in exile as she attempts to tell the story of the legendary Egyptian singer, Oum Kulthum. Described by Neshat as a film within a film, Looking for Oum Kulthum moves seamlessly between the genres of documentary and fiction to present two separate – but interconnected – storylines, both which highlight the challenges faced by women in a conservative, male dominated society. Screens: 1.00pm, Sunday 25 June & 6.00pm, Wednesday 19 July

Production still from Looking for Oum Kulthum 2017 / Director: Shirin Neshat / Image courtesy: The Match Factory

Hello Dankness 2022

In this darkly satirical suburban musical, Australian art duo Soda Jerk’s latest film Hello Dankness brings together hundreds of film samples to make contemporary commentary on the mythologies, farce and lore surrounding the American political landscape between 2016 and 2020. A glorious blend of political satire, zombie apocalypse, and Greek tragedy, Hello Dankness is a jarring reality-check that highlights the contagion-like influence of internet culture and memetics on contemporary society. Screens: 1.30pm, Saturday 1 July.

Production still from Hello Dankness 2022 / Director: Soda Jerk / Image courtesy: Soda Jerk

Victoria Wareham is Assistant Curator, Australian Cinémathèque, QAGOMA 

‘Contemporary Art X Cinema’ free film program screens at the Australian Cinémathèque, GOMA from 23 June to 26 July 2023.

The Australian Cinémathèque
The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) is the only Australian art gallery with purpose-built facilities dedicated to film and the moving image. The Australian Cinémathèque at GOMA provides an ongoing program of film and video that you’re unlikely to see elsewhere, offering a rich and diverse experience of the moving image, showcasing the work of influential filmmakers and international cinema, rare 35mm prints, recent restorations and silent films with live musical accompaniment by local musicians or on the Gallery’s Wurlitzer organ originally installed in Brisbane’s Regent Theatre in November 1929.