A melancholic essay on the paradoxes of modern China, where the ideologies of capitalism and collectivism, socialism, and individualism are found in a state of symbiosis.
The Chinese director, artist and theorist Bo Wang, based in New York, films China as a shimmering and almost extra-terrestrial space that lives by its own rules, remaining doggedly “different” even when parallels are evident with the modern West or with the old Maoist China. In a simultaneously intellectual and sensuous manner, Bo Wang observes the changes taking place in Chinese culture, politics, and everyday life that escape the eye of the casual observer.
In repeated encounters with people on Chinese streets and squares who randomly launch into dance and sing “the old tunes about what matters most”, the director finds in their spontaneous concerts an echo of the former collectivist utopia, now vanished almost without trace.
The space of China is undergoing endless reconstruction, renewal and even reset following the logic of unbridled capitalism, while the tendency in politics and daily life that is supported from below is one of reverence for and revival of the communism of Mao’s day, in which life was conceptualised as an ordered spectacle. Capitalism thus turns out to be just a wrapper for the old propaganda, which—due to a general desire to move on into the latest “bright new future”—is no longer perceived in terms of a totalitarian political project, but as a kind of sacred ritual going back into the mists of time.
Director Bo Wang. China. 2012, 50 min