Yeo Siew Hua
An Invocation to the Earth, 2020

Still: Courtesy the artist
Still: Courtesy the artist
Still: Courtesy the artist
Still: Courtesy the artist
TBA21 on st_age


Single-channel video installation, color, sound
16 min
Overall dimensions variable
Commissioned and produced by NTU CCA Singapore and Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary for st_age

Director Yeo Siew Hua’s An Invocation to the Earth speaks to the plight of those who strive to protect ecosystems in a time of planetary and human rights crises. Conceived during the month of the Hungry Ghost Festival in 2019, when large-scale fires were consuming the forests of Indonesia, it confronts climate collapse through the lens of pre-colonial folktales and animistic rituals. Deep in the tropical rainforest of Southeast Asia, a series of incantations invoke the spirits of yore, including the tricksy Kancil (mouse-deer) and the ferocious Buaya (crocodile). These ancient animals enact their folkloric vendetta in a furious dance of dominance, yet their long-overdue vengeance is shrouded in smoke. Meanwhile, an effigy of a tree is burning, summoning a whole other host of specters and ancestors. 
The film is dedicated to the fallen environmental defenders of Southeast Asia, a region ridden with ecological threats, in the hope that their spirits will be reborn. In the Philippines, more than 150 environmental defenders have been killed with impunity between 2016 and 2020. It is already one of the deadliest countries for activists opposing illegal logging, destructive mining, or corrupt agribusiness. The Filipino Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 further imperils their safety, labeling environmental activists as terrorists and allowing detention up to twenty-four days without charges, warrantless arrests, and the suppression of rights to privacy. 
Writer and director: Yeo Siew Hua
Performance choreography: Eng Kai Er and Chloe Chotrani
Executive producer: Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza
Cinematographer: Russel Morton
Mask and effigy design: Mike Chang
Research and writing: Dan Koh
Incantation: Zarina Muhammad
Location sound: Hussin Ismail
Sound design and mixing: Yen Yu Ting
Assistant director: Yang Ysiwanxuan Vicki
Editor: Daniel Hui
First camera assistant: Calvin Phua
Second camera assistant: Istravino Manuel
Second camera operator: Eric Lee
Art directors: Nicole Ho and Tricia Lim
Key grip: Zhang Yuanhui
Voiceover: Zarina Muhammad, Tini Aliman, Marco Viaña, and K. Rajagopal
Creature sound design: Jared Chan
Foley artists: Jared Chan, Loo Zhen Yang, and Jeremiah Chew, Elijay Castro Deldoc 
Art assistants: Lim Sham, Chloe Tan, Suzie Shin, Renee Ting, Melissa Lim, and Zou Zhao
Grip: Nelson Yeo
Fire supervision: Chester Hey
With the support of Akanga Film Asia, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, GRYD, and 13 Little Pictures
Born in Singapore, in 1985. Lives in Singapore.