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Wang Tuo

Release year: 2021

Run time: 66mins

Film type: single channel 4K video (color, sound)


One of the primary historical contexts for Tungus is the "Siege of Changchun," a hidden history of the 1948 Kuomintang-Communist Civil War that neither side would like to recall. In this quiet war without fire and smoke, hundreds of thousands of civilians, caught in the middle ground of beliefs and ideologies created by the military encirclement of the two armies, vanished in a primitive way - by starvation. In this film, as two soldiers from the Korean Independent Division of the Chinese People's Liberation Army try to flee Changchun, they gradually realise that they are in an overlapping time and space with that of Jeju Island, where the "Jeju uprising" has just occurred in the shadow of the Korean War. At the same time, a middle-aged scholar who refuses to flee the city of Changchun returns to the May 4th Movement of 1919 in an illusion caused by extreme hunger and subsequently makes new resolutions. In these forgotten historical narratives, Wang Tuo illustrates how hunger-led hallucinations from a shared mass experience lead to a collective conversion to "Pan-shamanism." In this conversion, he sees the Northeast Asian reality being reshaped by the power of the psyche mired in historical trauma. At the same time, the root of contemporary geopolitical dilemmas in Northeast Asia, buried deep in its recent history, are gradually unfolded and retraced.


Director biography

Wang Tuo (b. 1984, Changchun, China) interweaves Chinese historical facts, cultural archives, fiction and mythology into speculative narratives. Equating his practice to novel writing, he stages an intervention in historical literary texts and cultural archives to formulate stories that blur the boundaries of time and space, facts and imagination. Through film, performance, painting, and drawing, the artist’s work is a powerful examination of modern Chinese and East Asian history. The multidimensional chronologies he constructs, interspersed with conspicuous and hidden clues, expose the underlying historical and cultural forces at work within society. Embracing a uniquely Chinese hauntology, Wang proposes “pan-shamanization” as an entry point to unravel the suppressed and untreated memories of 20th century China and East Asia. Through historical inquiry, Wang’s works, often unsettling and dramatic, disentangle collective unconsciousness and historical traumas. Wang has recent solo shows at K21, Düsseldorf; UCCA, Beijing; Present Company, New York; Salt Project, Beijing; Taikang Space, Beijing, and recent group shows at M+ Museum, Hong Kong, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul; Julia Stoschek Collection, Düsseldorf; Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Baden- Baden; Queens Museum, New York; Kino der Kunst, Munich; Zarya Center for Contemporary Art, Vladivostok; Incheon Art Platform, Incheon; Power Station of Art, Shanghai; OCAT, Shenzhen & Shanghai; Times Museum, Guangzhou; National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung. Wang Tuo was an Artist in Residence at the Queens Museum, New York from 2015 to 2017. He won the China Top Shorts Award and the Outstanding Art Exploration Award in Beijing International Short Film Festival 2018. Wang Tuo is the winner of the Three Shadows Photography Award 2018 and the Youth Contemporary Art Wuzhen Award 2019. He was awarded a research residency at KADIST San Francisco as part of the OCAT x KADIST Media Artist Prize 2020. In 2023, Wang Tuo won the Sigg Prize. He was shortlisted the K21 Global Art Award 2024.