May Adadol Ingawanij is a writer, curator and teacher. Her research explores decentred histories and genealogies of cinematic arts; expressive and epistemological forms of potentiality in contemporary artistic and curatorial practices; aesthetics and circulation of artists’ moving image, art and independent films in, around, and beyond Southeast Asia. She is Professor of Cinematic Arts and Co-director of the University of Westminster's research centre CREAM.
May is the recipient of the British Academy’s Mid-Career Fellowship (2018-19) for her curatorial and publication project Animistic Apparatus. See 'research' section. She has won multiple research awards from the Leverhulme Trust, British Academy, EU Asia-Europe Foundation, among others.
Her recent English-language publications include 'Comedy of Entanglement: The Karrabing Film Collective' (2019); Aesthetics of Potentiality: Nguyen Trinh Thi's Essay Films' (2019); ‘Art’s Potentiality Revisited: Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook’s Late Style and Chiang Mai Social Installation’ (2018); ‘Itinerant Cinematic Practices In and Around Thailand During the Cold War’ (2018); 'Exhibiting Lav Diaz's Long Films: Currencies of Circulation and Dialectics of Spectatorship' (2017), ‘Long Walk to Life: the Films of Lav Diaz’ (2015); 'Animism and the Performative Realist Cinema of Apichatpong Weerasethakul' (2013); Glimpses of Freedom: Independent Cinema in Southeast Asia (2012); 'Mother India in Six Voices: Melodrama, Voice Performance and Indian Films in Siam' (2012).
May writes in English and Thai on contemporary artists' cinema, art, and cultural politics for a wide range of print and online publications. Her writings have been translated into Portuguese, Norwegian, and Korean, among other languages.
Her curatorial projects include Animistic Apparatus (2018 - ); Lav Diaz: Journeys (London, 2017); Southern Collectives (with Experimenta India, Arkipel Jakarta, Bienal de la Imagen en Movimiento, Buenos Aires, 2016); Fields: On Attachments and Unknowns (with Sa Sa Bassac, Phnom Penh, January 2017); Comparing Experimental Cinemas (with Experimenta India, Bangalore 2014); Performance screening programme (Asian Culture Station, Chiang Mai, 2017); Forces and Volumes screening programme (BIMI Essay Film Festival, London 2015; Asian Artists Film and Video Forum, MMCA Seoul 2015); Reuse Retell screening programme (CIRCUIT, Auckland 2013); Bangkok Experimental Film Festival 2012: Raiding the Archives.
May supervises practice and written PhD projects on world cinema, artists' moving image practices, contemporary artistic practices, and experimental documentary practices. She regularly serves as examiner for both written and practice PhDs.
Current and recent PhD researchers for which she is Director of Studies include:
- Zhuang Wubin, PhD by publication on photographic practices of Southeast Asia
- George Clark, Displacement, Adaptation, Entanglement and the Moving Image: Raul Ruiz's Unfinished Film 'The Comedy of Shadows'
- Khong Kok Wai, Exploring the Fantastic: Contemporary Malaysian Cinema
- Gilherme Leal, Ruins of Progress: Destructive Effects of Development in Contemporary Brazilian Documentary
- Treasa O'Brien, Town of Strangers: The Performative 'Making-of' Film and the Production of Reality
May is interested in PhD research proposals on histories and practices of contemporary art, cinematic arts, or the curatorial in, around, or entangled with Southeast Asia; world cinema or cinematic arts of the global south; artists' moving image histories, practices, and modalities of self-organisation or institutionalisation; grassroots, activistic or radical modes of curating cinematic arts and artists' moving image; among other topics.
May is part of the teaching team for the MA in Film, Television and Moving Image, which has a number of specialised options including film programming and moving image curation, and Asian cinema. She has been Co-Director of the CREAM Doctoral Programme and Course Leader for the MA Film, Television and Moving Image.
May is the recipient of the British Academy’s Mid-Career Fellowship (2018-19) for her current curatorial and publication project Animistic Apparatus. The project explores the affinity between animism and artists’ moving image. Through speculative and experimental research processes, it proposes the concept of animistic cinematic medium as a medium of cosmological entanglement and communication, and of deep time-space. This project routes its creative work of conceptualisation, expression, and exhibition-making through Southeast Asia’s art historical genealogies incorporating the praxis and apparatus of animistic rituals.
Animistic Apparatus places contemporary Southeast Asian artists' moving image practices, such as those of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Lav Diaz, Ho Tzu Nyen, Korakrit Arunanondchai, Anocha Suwichakornpong and Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, in the company of itinerant film projection rituals performed as an offering addressed to powerful nonhuman presence in and around Thailand during the Cold War. Its curatorial method creates an assembly of resonant practices and artefacts, proposing this provisional grouping as significant non-western examples for exploring key present-day questions about artistic agency and enunciation; the potentiality of expressive forms; human-nonhuman relations; conceptions of life; and historical, cosmological and ecological imaginaries.
Animistic Apparatus takes the form of talks and screening programmes in Bangkok (April 2019); an artistic research lab and sociable field learning trip in Udon Thani, northeast Thailand, involving itinerant projectionists, artists, curators, and writers (April 2019); a site-based exhibition, performances and storytelling at Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival (September 2019); a monograph titled Animistic Medium: Southeast Asian Contemporary Artists' Moving Image; a body of articles; commissioned online publications; a commissioned moving image work; travelling screening programmes.
May regularly collaborates and assists in the artistic research practices of Southeast Asia's artists and creative practitioners, and has substantial experience in supporting and mentoring emerging artists.
May has won a number of research and arts grants including:
- Asia-Europe Foundation Cultural Mobility grant: Animistic Apparatus @ Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival (2019)
- British Academy Mid Career Fellowship: Contemporary Art and Animistic Cinematic Practice in Southeast Asia (2018-19)
- Strategic Research Fund, University of Westminster: Long Films in the Gallery: An Exhibition and Symposium on the Films of Lav Diaz (2017)
- Strategic Research Fund, UoW: Southern Collectives (2016)
- British Academy International Partnership and Mobility Scheme: Comparing Experimental Cinemas (2014-2015)
- Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship: Historicising Cinema Experience in Cold War Siam (2009-2012)
- Asia-Europe Foundation Cultural Partnership Initiative: The 6th Bangkok Experimental Film Festival: Raiding the Archives (2012)
May is regularly invited to give keynote addresses and lectures on her research, and to contribute curatorial activities, at academic and arts institutions worldwide. She has substantial experience in mentoring early career researchers' projects and successful funding applications.
For details of all my research outputs, visit my WestminsterResearch profile.