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Wang Bing | Kunsthalle Zürich

Wang Bing | Kunsthalle Zürich

[…] The two exhibited films constitute a sort of diachronic collage, where the act of quoting films conveys the materiality of Wang Bing’s cinema. In looking at the two films, then, we discover the perfect coherence of this style of exhibiting with the artist’s act of filming the bodies of his characters.

[…] In the Kunsthalle Zürich we meet – not just see – Wang Bing’s characters, insofar as we physically meet the body of his cinema. The limits of this exhibited cinema become a privileged access to Wang Bing’s reflection on the surviving body – of people, of cinema, of ourselves.

More than Wang Bing’s two films – Man with No Name (2010) and Mrs Fang (2018) – and more than Tobias Madison’s enjoyable essay that embraces some of Wang Bing’s filmic ideas, it is the space of the Kunsthalle Zürich that immediately strikes us. The curator of the exhibition, Daniel Baumann, has used the multi-functional installation that has already served the previous exhibition in collaboration with the University of Zurich (100 Ways of Thinking) to create a cinema niche, which is actually only part of an articulated structure where walking, lying and staying are naturally included – a good example of the black box living within the white cube… Some classical conditions of cinema – a black area (here made of almost three walls), comfortable seats on step levels, (potentially) good sound conditions – are respected, but the cinema situation is included, somehow quoted, nonetheless exhibited, in the large room of the Kunsthalle.

The two exhibited films constitute a sort of diachronic collage, where the act of quoting films conveys the materiality of Wang Bing’s cinema. In looking at the two films, then, we discover the perfect coherence of this style of exhibiting with the artist’s act of filming the bodies of his characters. ”What does it mean to have a body?” is exactly the leading question of Madison’s text, which also hints at the complicity between the material presence of a body and the physical constraints of the act of filming itself. Despite his spontaneous stance of absence, the camera operator here is revealing their presence and betraying the presumed neutrality of the technology. Therefore, the impossibility of transparency means the necessity of empathy – the empathy that we cannot avoid feeling as viewers or, better, embodied visitors-that-happen-to-be-viewers, viewers of surviving people.

In the Kunsthalle Zürich we meet – not just see – Wang Bing’s characters, insofar as we physically meet the body of his cinema. The limits of this exhibited cinema become a privileged access to Wang Bing’s reflection on the surviving body – of people, of cinema, of ourselves.
 

First published: December 14, 2018

Wang Bing | Exhibition | Kunsthalle Zürich | 8/12/2018-3/2/2019

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