Off Power

Théodora Barat

House of Francophone Students

As part of the exhibition “The Name of the World is Forest,” cneai = is organizing a screening of OFF POWER (2021, 17 min) by Théodora Barat, a film created within the framework of Micromégas, a cross-media art residency between France and Hong Kong. The screening will take place starting at 5 p.m. at the House of Francophone Students.

The film, shot in Hong Kong, is conceived as an analysis of the city’s urban development through its electrical infrastructure, slowly tipping into science fiction. A mysterious phenomenon forces a power outage, the lifeblood of modern societies. Hong Kong is plunged into darkness.

When I arrived in Hong Kong, I was struck by the highly developed electrical infrastructure, especially the electrical substations. Their function is to receive high-voltage electricity from power plants and distribute it at low voltage throughout the city. The architecture is very distinctive: massive, mostly windowless, and covered in tiles, eerily reminiscent of bunkers. I wanted them to be at the heart of the project.
As my research progressed, the history of electricity on the island of Hong Kong captured my attention. It became clear that I needed to involve both urban analysis and science fiction in the project. Ultimately, I decided to present an impossible view: a Hong Kong at night without lights, LED signs, or electricity. In this way, only the architecture remains—an authority without embellishment.”
Théodora Barat

“Something vibrates, buzzes, crackles beneath the surface of seemingly ordinary images of Hong Kong. Something pulses, rather. That would be the right word since the first caption of the film designates electricity, which is here the subject, as the ‘lifeblood of modern societies.’ Thus, Off Power sets the eye of a naturalist (particularly its ear) on the infrastructure of this territory, among the most densely populated in the world. In the depths of the landscape, the image soon reveals a presence as silent as the crackling murmur: three colossal chimneys, three gaping arteries amid the mist. This is the heart, the origin of electrical pulsations: the power plant, relocated multiple times, to which Hong Kong owes the ceaseless flicker of its neon lights, planted since 1982 amidst the virgin nature of Lamma Island. Precisely: what if the flickering ceased? Here, guided always by its ear, the film gently drifts its observational gesture towards a science fiction scenario, involving yet another reformulation of the sonic intuition: the pulsation was rather an ant-like flurry. The film that begins then could be called, akin to a B-series from the early atomic age: L’Invasion des fourmis électriques. What better image, indeed, to express how, in Hong Kong as elsewhere, electricity has slowly colonized life? And to dream in the wake of this long nightmare, a symmetrical dream: a world freed from its neon lights, all buzzing extinguished, returned to its darkness and silence?”
Jérôme Momcilovic

Théodora Barat engages in a multidisciplinary practice spanning from film to sculpture to photography. She focuses on evolving environments, those critical moments where the artificial landscape becomes a sign. She examines the figures of modernity, dissects its chimeras to question our future. Her work has been showcased at the Centre Pompidou, cneai =, Nuit Blanche, Friche Belle de Mai, K11 – Musea (Hong Kong), the Emily Harvey Foundation and the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts (New York), CAC Vilnius (Lithuania), as well as in numerous international festivals. Théodora Barat is a resident for 2021-2022 at Villa Medici – Rome.

Micromégas is supported by the French Institute and co-organized by the Consulate General of France in Hong Kong and Macao, K11 Art Foundation, Videotage, and cneai =. The Hong Kong artist Kingsley Ng will in turn be welcomed in residence at cneai =.

{Continuous screenings starting at 5 PM Free entry upon reservation}

{Consulat Général de France à Hong-Kong} {K11 - Art Foundation} {Videotage} {Cinéma du réel}

{Site de l'artiste}