Parang
Two-channel HD video
2017
11 minutes 34 seconds
Black & white, stereo, 25 fps PAL
Edition 5 + 2 A.P.

Written, directed, produced and edited – Michael MacGarry
Director of photography – Michael MacGarry
Cast – Kevin MacGarry, Michael MacGarry, Max MacGarry
Filmed on location in Johannesburg and Durban, South Africa

My father – an architect – grew up in what was then Malaya (Malaysia today) in the Far East, with his Irish father and German mother. His father had spent three and a half years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in Burma following the fall of Singapore in 1942, before my father was born. The title of this video work – Parang – is the Malaysian word for machete.

This two-channel video work follows a circuitous, omni-linear route via one channel of the lifecycle of the silk worm from birth, through growth, into pupae, chrysalis and metamorphosing into a moth that mates and dies once all its eggs are laid. The second channel registers, and corrupts through stop-animation, a series of key architectural spaces in my father’s life, my own life and that of my young son’s. These houses are: 106 Jervois Road, Singapore (formerly my grandparent’s house, seized by the Imperial Japanese Army in 1942); Casa di Vidro (1958) in Sao Paulo by Brasilian Modernist Lina bo Bardi; House Biermann in Durban (where I grew up) designed by South African Modernist Barrie Biermann and lastly my own home in Johannesburg that I have spent the past four years designing and building myself.

Running through these spaces of habitation and remembering are two objects my father’s family brought with them from Malaya to South Africa in 1958; a 12-gauge shotgun and a small ivory carving of a holy man sitting with his troupe of musical baboons. The two-channel video loops endlessly and is in part an exercise in the entropy and absurdity in constructions of self and place.