On the films of Wesley Leon Aroozoo

One might say that part of, perhaps even the biggest part of, the craft of storytelling lies in the ability of the one bringing forth the tale to respond to tales, to stories, which are already in the world; lies in her capacity to see the potential tale in what is happening in the world; to see in the world, the potential for tales; perhaps even see the world as potential tales.

And nowhere is this more apparent than in Wesley Leon Aroozoo catching a glimpse of what I Want To Go Home could be, before it was even so.

And the fact that all of us are saying what a captivating back-story his book and film draws from is nothing but testament to, us bearing witness to, his sensibilities, to his sensitivities.

One of the marks of a good artist is the ability to translate: to transform the world through their craft into the medium by which they allow us to catch a glimpse of a world. And, the form through which Mr Aroozoo enacts a movement of the world — regardless of whether it is a play, a script, a talk, perhaps even when he teaches — is film: for, and here we should make no mistake, Wesley Leon Aroozoo is a maker of movements of blocks of time.

For, as one can read from both the textual and filmic versions of I Want To Go Home (but also the textual and stage versions of Bedok Reservoir), Mr Aroozoo’s concern is how time unfolds to us: which is why we always wait when we bear witness to his work.

And, as both Maurice Blanchot and Samuel Beckett have taught us, waiting is the very condition of thinking, of questioning — and as one is attending to Mr Aroozoo’s work (which is always a film, regardless of what it first appears to be), if one is paying attention, the question of what exactly are attending to is never far from one. Of whether the film is a documentary of Mr Aroozoo’s trip to Japan; a testimony to Yasuo Takamatsu and his undying fidelity to his wife; an indictment of neo-liberal Japan’s indifference to the loss of life; of the tsunami as a figure that opens socio-economic questions in the polis that we call Japan; and so on and so forth. And whilst the fact that multiple forms, a variety of questions, within a film is certainly not new, what stands out is Mr Aroozoo’s sensitivity to the singularity of each of these forms. Such that he is willing to respond — responsibility and ethics being never far from his work, his approach — to each of these possibilities without attempting to reconcile them, pull them under a totalitarian gesture of the author.

Which means that Wesley Leon Aroozoo is not attempting auteur cinema — but something even more interesting. Where, what he is doing is calling into question the very possibility of the author herself.

Where his work, his film, is nothing more — and infinitely nothing less — than cinema as such.

Where, what he is responding to is precisely the possibility of a film — a film that is always already in the world, but one in which he is framing as film, naming as film — unveiling itself in and through time.

For, the fact is that his films — documentary, narrative, filmic, experimental, or otherwise — unfold as narrations; where his works shimmer with discomfort of being trapped in the inevitable linearity of time in cinema.

And, perhaps more importantly, instead of taking route of ‘non-linear’ presentation — which would be far too easy, and completely uninteresting — by deliberately allowing his films to uncomfortably unfold in their linearity, Wesley Leon Aroozoo shows us both the conditions and the limit of film itself.




Jeremy Fernando reads, and writes; and is the Jean Baudrillard Fellow at The European Graduate School. He works in the intersections of literature, philosophy, and the media; and his, more than twenty, books include Reading Blindly, Living with Art, Writing Death, and in fidelity. His writing has also been featured in magazines and journals such as Arte al Límite, Berfrois, CTheory, Full Bleed, Qui Parle, TimeOut, and VICE, amongst others; and has been translated into French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, and Serbian. Exploring other media has led him to film, music, and the visual arts; and his work has been exhibited in Seoul, Vienna, Hong Kong, and Singapore. He is the general editor of both Delere Press and the thematic magazine One Imperative; and is a Fellow of Tembusu College at The National University of Singapore.

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