Insomniac Nights and An Aesthetics of Passivity

Elizabeth Wijaya – Assistant Professor of East Asian Cinema of the University of Toronto


Tsai Ming-liang’s eight-part Walker series (2012–2018) traverses performance art and film, internet video, and film festival-oriented cinema, held together by the itinerant figure of Lee Kang-sheng dressed as a monk. Tsai’s work carries the sense of the cinematic, as experiential encounters, into arenas outside the cinema theatre. Through the post-retirement Walker series, I consider Tsai’s ever-further alienation of cinematic conventions and expectations and a continued pursuit of an “aesthetics of passivity” within the illusory form of the moving-image. Guided by Levinasian themes of passivity, fatigue, and insomnia, I read the ethico-political possibility of on-screen passivity and passive spectatorship through scenes in the series and the 2016 No No Sleep exhibition at the MoNTUE in Taipei. From a pandemic time where self-isolating is a passive action and form of responsibility for the other, waiting together becomes a temporal practice of the will that has collective, political potential.


In Partnership with 2022 TAIWANfest

Venue / Time


Air Date on Aug 27th

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