An Asian Ghost Story
Release year: 2023
Run time: 37 mins
Film type: Documentary
Wigs played a vital role for the rise of the Asian economy in the post-war era. In the heyday of the 1960s, it ranked as fourth-largest export in Hong Kong's export-orientated industrialisation. Between Mao's China - the largest source of hair supplies, and the insatiable Western market, Hong Kong functioned as the gateway. In 1965, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed an embargo on ‘Asiatic hair’ to cut off foreign currency flowing to Communist China in the hair trade. The highly racialised category of ‘Asiatic hair’ was later revised as ‘communist hair’, to enable the wig industry to develop in U.S. allies, including mainly South Korea and Japan. This shift led to a significant reconfiguration of light industry in East Asia. Departing from the moment of the communist hair ban, through stories of movement, diaspora and migration, this project examines the role of Hong Kong as a transient space that mediates and sanitises the connection between different worlds. It sheds light on the relationship between U.S. Imperialism and East Asia order in the Cold War era.
Bo WANG is an artist, filmmaker and researcher based in the Netherlands. His works have been exhibited internationally, including venues like the Guggenheim Museum and Museum of Modern Art in New York, Garage Museum in Moscow, Rotterdam Film Festival in the Netherlands, CPH: DOX in Denmark, Visions du Réel in Switzerland, among many others. His work An Asian Ghost Story won the New: Vision awards at CPH: DOX 2023. He received a fellowship from the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar in 2013 and was an artist-in-residency at ACC-Rijksakademie 2017-2018 and NTU CCA in 2016.