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Building Archaeology

Xu Ruotao

Release year: 2011

Run time: 15 mins

Film type: Experimental Film


This short film explores three different buildings using different methods of observation. The first part is about an art district in Huairou, Beijing. Here, various artists live in a number of similar, square box studios. The common features of each of the studios are simplicity and potential mobility—and a common sense of unease that lies behind the silence. Part two looks at a SARS hospital that was built in seven days in Xiaotangshan, in Beijing’s Changping district. The hospital was put to use immediately upon completion, but then abandoned after SARS. Now, under attack from the elements, it is soaked by rain and covered in weeds. The final section of the film are the memories of young man who spent a month in a detention centre.


Director biography

XU Ruotao, a visual artist and a filmmaker, born in Shenyang in 1968, lives and works in Beijing. He began his career in the early 1990s by joining the then renowned avant-garde Yuanmingyuan Painter's Village. He has worked in a variety of media, including painting, video installations and graffiti films, as well as the 3D animated short film Beijing Changping Qiliqu Temporary Shelter (2008). His first experimental film, Rumination (2009), was nominated for the Dragon Tiger Awards at the 29th Vancouver Film Festival. In 2012, he collaborated with JP Sniadecki and Huang Xiang on the film Yumen, which was selected for the Berlinale and the Mexican Film Festival. In 2012 he also collaborated with Xue Li on the short film Broken Lines, which was selected for the 9th Beijing Independent Film Festival and the Asian Experimental Film and Video Art Forum. His other films include Expressionism (2013-2017), Ants Dynamics (2019), and Ink Cowboy (2022).