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Sadia Pineda Hameed: The Song of My Life

Cardiff based artist, writer and independent curator Sadia Pineda Hameed was invited to show alongside Undo Things Done by Sean Edwards as part of Bluecoat’s winter exhibition programme which opened in December 2020. Both artists address ideas of inheritance in their work, particularly the stories that are passed down within families, especially from mothers, and the childhood memories and experiences that shape the present. 

With Bluecoat’s galleries currently closed due to lockdown, we’re taking the opportunity this week to explore the themes behind Sadia Pineda Hameed’s poignant film The Song of My Life.

Pineda Hameed works in film, installation, text and performance to explore collective and inherited trauma. She is interested in the ways that dreaming, telepathic communion and the passing on of secrets might act as forms of resistance and as anti-colonial strategies. Pineda Hameed's mother and her experiences of emigrating from the Philippines to the UK is the focus of her recent film tiny bubbles in the wine (2019). The artist's tender and deliberately fragmentary way of telling her mother's story continues here in her new film The Song of My Life. 

The Song of My Life (2020) takes its audio visual style from pop karaoke videos, 1970s melodramas and ballads. It is a duet of absences indicated by a missing vocal partner and gaps in the backing track, an easy listening song of the same name from 1971 by Filipino actress and singer NoraAunor. 

Atmospheric and dreamlike, Pineda Hameed weaves together mesmerising images filmed by the artist of light hitting water, waves on the sea and illuminated flowers with found footage of crushed cars and a TV romance. These visuals combine with a script that shifts our attention between what we hear, what we read, what the artist tells us, what her mother cannot directly say about her life, and the silences in between. The collaging of these elements creates a fragmentary narrative of loss and longing. 














The artist is interested in the gaps in the telling of stories, what she calls the ''quiet and misunderstood spaces'' where secrets held within a family may be sensed or implied. The need to look for meaning in hidden or alternative spaces also results from living under colonialism, with the Philippines having been held under colonial rule for over three hundred years by Spain and nearly fifty under USA. Estrangement between generations is therefore also the consequence of the suppression of cultures, languages, names, traditions, rights, livelihoods, land and forced emigrations. 

The artist proposes that the collective and individual traumas each generation carries with them may find their release in silences, omissions and decoys. In the things that cannot be directly told, yet may still be understood. The visual decoys here, that stand in for what a mother cannot tell her daughter about life and loss, include the hyperreal dream of flowers at night exposed by artificial light and the popping of bubbles on the shore. 

Abundant with clues and coded references, watching and rewatching The Song of My Life is like experiencing the retelling of a story, with new significances emerging over and over. 

Read the transcript of the film here.


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