2006, Thu, May 04

Curator's Night: Ou Ning

Guangzhou Triennial 2005: Moving Images of Pearl River Delta

Jiang Zhi | Moments | Copyright: Promo

Jiang Zhi | Moments | Copyright: Promo

Ou Ning presents two productions from Guangzhou, the capital of the Pearl River Delta. His film retrospective "Moving Images of Pearl River Delta: 1898-2005" was shown last year at the Hong Kong International Film Festival and the Guangzhou Triennial.


R: Jiang Zhi

China 2002/3, 40 min., English subtitles

“Carrying a DV camcorder with him wherever he went, Jiang Zhi documented everything in his life he found interesting. Just like a diary, Moments recorded fragments of urban lives in Shenzhen. What impresses the viewer most is how workers and migrants living near an industrial area entertain themselves: a crowd of people stands around a TV on the sidewalk, watching a Hong Kong comedy. Their joy and fascination were captured by the artist's zoom lens without their noticing. This allows the observation of the observer - migrant workers were attracted by the Hong Kong movie, and we are attracted by the workers. In another episode about life in Shenzhen, an entertainer is performing a "Chinese version" of a Madonna-type show, in which the entertainer entices her audience sexually with provocative lingerie and erotic talk. These pictures document the current lifestyle of people living at the bottom of the social ladder, who draw little attention from the mainstream media. They also document another change or transition in life in an era of pervasive commercialism.” (Ou Ning)

Houjie Township

R: Zhou Hao, Ji Jianghong

China 2003, 91 min., English subtitles

"In Houjie Township, we follow the camera into the lives in those rented rooms. A small industrial town in Dongguan, Houjie has many labor-intensive plants owned by investors from Hong Kong and Taiwan. These factories suffered economically after the events of September 11th, 2001. As orders decreased significantly, a large number of workers lost their jobs. To bypass the more difficult challenge of shooting scenes inside the factories, Zhou and Ji focused their lenses on the everyday lives of migrant workers. In the film, which covers a period of more than a year, its creators dig through the triviality of workers' lives with professional journalistic keenness to record their private monologs, the suspicion and quarrels among them and the harm they inflicted upon one another. The film also reveals the dangerous social realities of those rented properties, including robberies, revenge murders and gas explosions. In order to capture their real inner world, Zhou and Ji even taught migrant workers how to use a DV camcorder and let them have the camcorder in order to conduct interviews and shoot film among themselves. The documentary features many people in a fiercely powerful presentation. Its appeal to the audience is greater than that of dramas because it eloquently shows the power reality itself projects.“ (Ou Ning)

‘As described by Rem Koolhaas in Great Leap Forward, the Pearl River Delta (in the south of China, to the northwest of Hong Kong) is experiencing the most sustained urbanisation in modern Chinese history. The ensuing conflicts have turned the region into a Zone of Urgency, as Hou Hanru calls it. In the regional capital of Guangzhou alone, over 120 so-called ‘villages in the city’ have arisen with all the related problems such the expropriation of the peasants who, now unemployed, have no prospects for the future. So far, artists have made little attempt to penetrate this reality, which makes the attention that independent film and video producers are devoting to the region all the more worthwhile. Whereas mainstream films tend to either embellish their subject matter or deprive it of its real content, a characteristic feature of independent productions is the enthusiastic way in which they examine the land they are walking on and the people living around them. With their DV cameras they wander through the towns and cities filming scenes and incidents that interest them.’ (Ou Ning)

Ou Ning began his artistic career as a lyric poet. In the meantime, however, he has also started an alternative music organisation, an art-book publishing house, and a literature and art café in Guangzhou. At the 50th Biennale in Venice in 2004, he presented the San Yuang Li project, which portrays a ‘village in the city’ in the Zona di Urgenza (Zone of Urgency, curated by Hou Hanru). In 2005, he received a scholarship for the project Beijing Case – Kultur des HighSpeed Urbanismus (the culture of high-speed urbanism) initiated by the Bundeskulturstiftung (German Cultural Foundation).