Becoming a Father
Run time: 9 mins
Film type: Experimental Film
Mao Chenyu's film "Becoming a Father" presents the threat of genetic modification technology to the dominant position of men in a patriarchal society, indirectly expressing the hidden weight carried by women's bodies in the burdened traditions of the inland agricultural community. In the film, Mao Chenyu and his father place a ceramic embryo symbolizing reproductive totems into an earthen kiln, metaphorically representing a sexual activity dominated by males. In this symbolic ritual of female conception, the role played by males is merely a myth of passing on the flame, where the absolute dominant figure of the father can actually be replaced by genetically modified, superior seeds.
Mao Chenyu, born in 1976, hails from Songyuan Village, Xinqiang Town, Yueyang City, Hunan Province. After completing his studies in Inorganic Non-metallic Materials at the School of Materials Science and Engineering, Tongji University in 2000, he began to focus on image-based practices. "Rice Cinema" is a series of visual experiments initiated by Mao Chenyu in 2003. Primarily employing ethnographic approaches within the realm of cinema, his works delve into obscured individual experiences, rural narratives and languages, ethnic differences, land politics, and other related topics. Mao's filming predominantly takes place within the vast region surrounding Yueyang in Hunan, extending to Shennongjia in Hubei, and Northeastern Guizhou, which encompasses the Dongting Lake area. Through capturing rice cultivation and exploring the cultural, agricultural, and social aspects intertwined with rice, he presents the will to exist and the spiritual lineage associated with it. Since 2013, the artist has expanded his language structures through exhibitions, lectures, interdisciplinary collaborations, and other mediums of expression.