TAASA Review Issues

March 2000

Vol: 9 Issue: 1
Film & Photography
Editors: Ann MacArthur & Freda Freiberg

Cover Photo
Park Joong-Hoon as detective Woo in Nowhere to Hide, South Korea, 1999. Director: lee Myung-Se.

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Editorial

Freda Freiberg

This issue of TAASA Review is devoted to film and photography in Asia. Outside of Chinatown cinemas and Indian and Chinese video rental shops, very little Asian cinema is distributed in Australia. The major international film festivals in state capitals exhibit an annual round-up of new releases, including an increasing number of Asian films, but the commercial cinema – including the art-house cinema – rarely shows Asian films. If it were not for the film festivals and SBS television, we would hardly see any Asian films. This is especially deplorable in view of the vast output of Hindi and regional language Indian cinemas, the vitality of the three Chinese cinemas (Hong Kong, Taiwan and PRC), the dynamism of the Korean and Japanese cinemas, and the popularity of home-grown cinema in Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Our galleries likewise exhibit very little Asian photography although as Gael Newton, curator of photography at the National Gallery of Australia notes in this issue, they are taking steps to remedy the situation. Judy Annear, curator of photography at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, has displayed a particular interest in Japanese photography and in this issue she introduces an unusual photographic work, recently acquired by the Gallery by Yasumasa Morimura, a fascinating photographer who performs (often as a woman) in his own works. Another queer series of Japanese photographs, one involving a collaboration between writer Yukio Mishima and the art photographer Eikoh Hosoe, is discussed in these pages by Ryoko Otomo, a Mishima scholar.

Recently, the National Gallery and the National Library have uncovered a vast archive of photographs shot in Asia by European and Australian photographers, and this work is being analysed by critics and researchers with the application of postcolonial theories. In this issue, researchers, Wendy Doolan and Jim Masselos examine 19th century photographs (portraits and cityscapes, respectively) taken by Europeans in India and imbued with imperial ideology. Wendy also examines portraits of Indians shot by Indian photographers and suggests ways in which they may have undermined imperialist values while apparently imitating their masters.

The articles on film cover both popular and art cinema releases. As a China specialist, Chris Berry submits the Disney version of the Mulan legend to a critical analysis. Raj Pandey thoughtfully examines Earth, the widely distributed art movie by Deepa Mehta about the tragedy of partition in India, as a political romance in both generic and ideological senses. One of the world’s great art directors, the Taiwanese Hou Hsaio Hsien, receives two reviews without apology. Both City of Sadness, reviewed by Taiwan scholar Mark Harrison, and Flowers of Shanghai, reviewed by Hong Kong cinema specialist Audrey Yue, are cinematic masterpieces. Finally the contemporary cinema of Korea receives belated attention from Darcy Paquet.

I hope you enjoy reading these articles and reviews on film and photography. We also include a paper on transvestism by a Japanese theatre expert Peter Eckersall delivered at a TAASA seminar last August because it is informative and provocative and because the issues he raises are by no means confined to theatre or to Japan.

Table of contents

EDITORIAL – Freda Freiberg

PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY IN COLONIAL INDIA – Wendy Doolan

DISNEY’S MULAN, DISNEY’S FEMINISM: UNIVERSAL APPEAL AND MUTUALLY ASSURED DESTRUCTION – Chris Berry

FILM REVIEW: CITY OF SADNESS – Mark Harrison

FILM REVIEW: EARTH – Rajyashree Pandey

10  FILM REVIEW: FLOWERS OF SHANGHAI – Audrey Yue

12  GENREBENDING IN CONTEMPORARY KOREAN CINEMA – Darcy Paquet

14  UNDRESSING SEX, GENDER AND TRANSVESTISM IN THE PERFORMING ARTS OF JAPAN – Peter Eckersall

18  BARAKEI: ORDEAL BY ROSES Photographs of Yukio Mishima – Ryoko Otomo

20  IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN YASUMASA MORIMURA’S SLAUGHTER CABINET II – Judy Annear

21  PHOTOGRAPHERS OF AND FROM ASIA: a new collection focus at the National Gallery of Australia  – Gael Newton

23  REVIEWS AND PREVIEWS

26  1999 EVENTS IN REVIEW

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