Video

The fallacy of misplaced concreteness

Alice Wang

2012, 35:27 minutes, colour, English and Mandarin with English Subtitles

TAPECODE 1033.00

In WWII, to stage his cover as a wealthy businessman in Hong Kong for a risky covert operation orchestrated by the Chinese government, my grandfather married my grandmother. Decades later, during the violent reforms of 1960s China, my grandfather’s undercover work for the Communist army, in leading a feigned life overseas under capitalism, would resurface to torment his wife and children. I return to these traumas of the past, to the expediently shape-shifting spaces of historic sets and scenes. Abstract layered compositions arranged in three vignettes, The fallacy of misplaced concreteness is an intimate look at how we see, and how we remember. Through an embodied lens, in hand-held shots, eye/I look into the camera, wandering in stories of my mother and grandmother, in memories of my childhood, in sites simulating sights. With stopovers in various image-production sites, I travel from the Cultural Revolution set in Zhenbeibao Western Film Studio, to Imperial German Qingdao where my grandfather grew up. The film emerges as an inward-coiling spiral, penetrating into the depths of an entangled unconscious between three generations of women.

The video has a wonderful rhythmic structure, almost physically involves the spectator in its movement. Especially if one once visited China before one can recognize the atmosphere of pre/postindustrial tristesse that governs the contemporary Chinese landscape. One moves forward but sees always the same – ruins of the initial promises. The video reminds me strongly of Walter Benjamin and his description of Angelus Novus. At the same time the video tales a moving family story. A story of permanent effort to succeed, to be the best under any imaginable circumstances.” — Boris Groys

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