– An exhibition summarizes the river films of Wang Bing
Presented in an immersive way, excerpts from the Chinese director’s extraordinary documentaries allow you to explore his cinema as he does his country.
Abandoning the snapshot for the moving image: the Center de la photographie de Genève (CPG) ventures to the confines of the 8e art by offering the public a dive into the universe of an atypical and radical filmmaker. “Wang Bing, the eye that walks” focuses on the monumental work of Wang Bing |, 54-year-old Chinese director, specialist in long-form documentaries.
Organized in collaboration with the Black Movie festival and LE BAL, a Parisian venue dedicated to contemporary imagery, the exhibition offers a gripping journey through a filmography tormented by the political and social realities of today’s China.
“Wang Bing looks at those left behind by globalization.”
Danaé Panchaud, director of the Geneva Center for Photography
“Wang Bing looks at those left out of globalization,” explains Danaé Panchaud, the brand new director of the CPG. He strives to make visible the invisible, assembly line workers or patients in a psychiatric asylum. But if his subjects are hard, his gaze is extremely benevolent.
Working alone, capturing life scenes in a neutral tone, he observes without judging often very desperate situations. Very attached to his characters, whom he follows for weeks or months, the director reveals the individuals lost in the mass, highlights the human being in the grinder that is his sprawling native country.
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Wang Bing chooses a long time frame – his films can last up to 15 hours –, a minimalist editing and an almost total absence of narration. “L’œil qui marche” is declined in five immersive installations made up of film sequences of a few minutes chosen by the artist and running in a loop. The scenography throws the visitor into the dark in order to envelop him in these short excerpts through a set of multiple screens.
The passages of “West of the Rails” depicting the gradual dismantling of China’s oldest and largest industrial complex, or those of “Madness”, which follows a few patients left to fend for themselves in their psychiatric hospital, are projected simultaneously onto several partitions. Further on, a row of small screens deploys “The Man Without a Name”, for which the filmmaker accompanied for two years a man who lives as a hermit in the cavity of a rock, without exchanging a single word with him.
If it denounces, the artist’s camera does not frontally criticize the regime. Moreover, the latter has never prevented him from working. Despite their brevity, the excerpts allow us to take the measure of this complex indictment and of this unique way that Wang Bing possesses of physically embracing his subjects.