Green Snake: women-centred ecologies

Green Snake Special Screening

Green Snake: women-centred ecologies

Green Snake Guided Tour: Who’s Next?

Green Snake Special Screening

Family Day at Tai Kwun Contemporary

Date & Time

23 Mar 2024 2:00pm – 9:00pm


JC Cube


Exclusive to Tai Kwun Fan, Free of charge


Tai Kwun Contemporary is pleased to present exhibition Green Snake special film screening with select works by three artists—Carolina Caycedo, Saodat Ismailova, and Liu Yujia—each bringing historical lineage to present conditions, including works filmed in South America, Central Asia, and Northeast China. This coincides with the exhibition Green Snake: women-centred ecologies where river ecologies, mythologies, and rituals are key themes. Many of the artists featured in the exhibition have long-standing socially engaged practices, with works rooted in different geographies highlighting parallel struggles and approaches rooted in empathy and care for non-human existence.

Colombian artist and filmmaker Carolina Caycedo is one of the leading artists who works around environmental justice and future resources in South America, and her films explore our relationships with land and water through indigenous knowledge and resistance. Saodat Ismailova, an award-winning Uzbek director whose practice centres around the exploration of women's history in Central Asia, delves into a widely practised blessing ritual based on an ancient story akin to popular fables like Cinderella. Beijing-based artist and filmmaker Liu Yujia who has spent the last few years in Northeast China, shares her latest film capturing local mythologies and diverse life forms thriving deep within the Changbai mountains, as well as the intricate ecology of mushrooms. 

14:00-16:05 Session 1: Liu Yujia’s work selection and Artist sharing


2023| 13 min | Colour

In the vast boreal forests of Northeast Asia, a flickering, elusive and scattered light embodies the soul of a forest ecology. Beneath this dappled light, the data and energy of life passes between members of the forest biome. Artist Liu Yujia employs a macro lens to capture the light beneath the forest canopy, as well as the ecology among the mushrooms. These micro stories of hidden ecosystems are amplified to become a different kind of jungle, ultimately offering an otherworldly view of the symbiotic dance between mushrooms, moss, insects, and soil.

A darkness shimmering in the Light

2023 | 64 min | Colour

From 2022 to 2023, Liu Yujia embarked on four filming trips to the Changbai Mountains and the Songhua River upstream. Documenting activities like logging, hunting, and fishing, she used various mediums including 16mm film, as well as a digital camera, drone, and GoPro. Throughout the filming process across four seasons, in which Liu encountered immense challenges posed by extreme weather conditions, the film portrays the frozen Songhua River as a gateway and journey through time and space. Integrating ethnography, literature, and folklore, the artist constructs fictional ecological narratives, blurring the boundaries between nature and culture, science and mythology, and humans and non-humans. The film intends to unravel the oppositions between them, while employing a filmic language that enacts a sense of empathy between the viewer and the natural world.

Artist sharing will be conducted in Putonghua, with simultaneous interpretation in English. 

16:30 – 17:35 Session 2: Carolina Caycedo’s work selection

Fuel to Fire

2023 | 8 min | Colour

Fuel to Fire rings the viewer into a “pagamento,” also known as the payback of gold to a body of water. This ritual was performed for the wellbeing and conservation of the Paramo de Santurbán, a moorland ecosystem within the high mountains of Northwest Colombia, which holds numerous sought-after deposits of gold. The pagamento is an indigenous ecological and economic fundamental protocol that maintains the flow and balance of lifecycles on earth. When accumulation happens, sickness arrives, and so it is necessary to “give back” by letting go of something that is dear, implying labour or something that is highly symbolic.

Reciprocal Sacrifice

2022 | 12 min | Colour

This short film takes viewers on the journey of a salmon seeking to return to its spawning grounds in the Sawtooth Mountains. The salmon narrates the challenges it faces as it swims upstream and tells of the heating of the water in the lakes, creeks, and rivers in the Snake River Basin. With voiceovers by members of the Nez Perce Tribe, viewers learn of the salmon’s generosity in sustaining people and ecosystems over countless generations. The film looks to highlight the ideas of self-sacrifice, generosity, love, and gratitude, enjoining us to care more for salmon-human relations.

Thanks for hosting us we are healing our broken bodies

2020 | 8 min | Colour

Human bodies, fragmented by water and stretches of fabric, address the division of local streams and rivers. They seek unity as a collective body, emphasising the need to dismantle divisive infrastructure. The film's culmination reveals a complete human body, symbolising the potential for riverbank ecosystems to regain wholeness. Shot at the San Gabriel River and Wanaawna (Santa Ana) river mouth, this inaugural activation of Water Portraits aims to heal our relationship with the unceded Tongva and Acjachemen territories (Orange County) in the U.S.

Esto no es Agua (This Is Not Water)

2015 | 5 min | Colour

Esto no es Agua is a “water portrait” of the Las Damas waterfall in the town of Garzón, Huila, in southern Colombia. It acknowledges bodies of water as active social agents in environmental conflicts, inviting us to revise and decolonise our contemplative and utilitarian relationships towards landscape. The soundtrack is composed by manipulating the waterfall sounds, and mixing it with the sampling of a traditional indigenous millo reed flute.

A Gento Rio (We River)

2015 | 29 min | Colour

A Gente Rio explores the connections between the Itaipu Dam (the world’s second largest hydroelectric plant) with the rise of the Landless Workers' Movement / Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST). Looking at the different constructions of dams: the controversial Belo Monte Dam, facing indigenous resistance and licensing irregularities; the Bento Rodrigues Dam, responsible for a major environmental disaster by the mining company Samarco; and the Vale do Ribeira, where indigenous, caiçara, and quilombola communities resist dam construction. The artist emphasises all of these communities' collective resistance and accumulated knowledge against development-driven projects threatening their existence.

19:30 -21:00 Session 3: Saodat Ismailova’s work selection

Bibi Seshanbe

2022 | 52 min | Colour

Bibi Seshnabe Ona, or “The Lady of Tuesday” in Uzbek, is a blessing ritual in Central Asia that venerates a female protectress. It incorporates elements of animalism and Zoroastrianism within an ancient story comparable to another well-known fable, Cinderella. The film weaves together elements of fairytales, alongside documentation of existing rituals and presence of the contemporary “Lady of Tuesday” who is portrayed through Bibisara Aripova, a burn surgeon from Samarkand who founded a shelter to support women who have experienced violence.

18000 Worlds

2023 | 23 min | Colour

According to the Persian mystic Shihab al-Din Yahya al-Suhrawardi from the 12th century, our world is only one of 18,000 worlds in the universe, as mentioned in Central Asian poetry and texts. The film combines unused fragments from the filmmaker's archives (2004-2022) from diverse locations, and captured for various projects. It also chronicles fragments from Eye Film Museums' collection. Serving as a video talesman, the film highlights the disconnect from our ancestors and the risk of losing valuable knowledge.

Venue: JC Cube
Free admission, seats on first-come first-served basis.

* This will be an open seating event. The films have not been classified yet. If they are subsequently classified as Category III films, audience members must be aged 18 or above.

Artist Bio

Carolina Caycedo
Saodat Ismailova
Liu Yujia

Carolina Caycedo (b. 1978) is a Colombian multidisciplinary artist living in Los Angeles. Her immense geographic photographs, lively artist’s books, hanging sculptures, performances, films, and installations are not merely art objects but gateways into larger discussions about how we treat each other and the world around us. Through her studio practice and fieldwork with communities impacted by large-scale infrastructure and other extraction projects, she invites viewers to consider the unsustainable pace of growth under capitalism and how we might embrace resistance and solidarity. Process and participation, central to Caycedo’s practice, contributes to her reconstruction of environmental and historical memory as a fundamental space for climate and social justice. Informed by Indigenous and feminist epistemologies, she confronts the role of the colonial gaze in the privatisation and dispossession of land and water. Caycedo is a 2023–2024 Soros Arts Fellow and a 2023–2024 Getty Research Institute Artist in Residence. 

Saodat Ismailova (b. 1981) is a filmmaker and artist who came of age in the post-Soviet era and has established artistic lives between Tashkent and Paris. Skillfully interweaving myths, rituality, and dreams within the tapestry of everyday life, Ismailova’s films investigate the historically complex and layered culture of Central Asia, at the crossroads of diverse material histories and migratory legacies. In 2013, she participated in the 2013 Venice Biennale as part of the Central Asia Pavilion. Her films have been presented internationally including the Berlin International Film Festival (2014), Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York (2018), Musée du quai Branly in Paris (2018), and the 59th Venice Biennale and documenta 15 in Kassel (2022). In the same year she was awarded the Eye Art & Film Prize by Eye Filmmuseum, Amsterdam, where a comprehensive retrospective of her works was also held. Later that year, she presented her solo exhibition, Double Horizons at Le Fresnoy.

Liu Yujia (b. 1981) is an artist whose films explore the blurred boundary between reality and fiction with poetic language. Considering the landscape of Asian frontiers as a vortex of suspended time and space, she weaves documentary footage, literature, ethnography, folklore, and travelogue to construct meditative films, which often focuses on the experiences of non-human life forms. 

Liu Yujia graduated from Sichuan Fine Arts Institute and obtained her master's degree from London College of Communication, University of the Arts London. She currently lives and works in Beijing. Recent solo exhibitions include: MadeIn Art Museum, Shanghai (2023); Tang Contemporary Art Center, Beijing (2023, 2017, 2016); DRC No.12, Beijing (2021); Surplus Space, Wuhan (2021); and Shanghai Gallery of Art, Shanghai (2015). Group exhibitions include: the Cosmos Cinema, 14th Shanghai Biennale (2023); Beijing Biennale (2022); Being Theoria, 4th Hangzhou Triennial of Fiber Art, Hangzhou (2022); and Why Not Ask Again, 11th Shanghai Biennale (2016).