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Wailing Requiem

Wang Tuo

Release year: 2021

Run time: 31'46"

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


Wailing Requiem, the final installment of The Northeast Tetralogy, follows the life of the "migrant worker assassin" in the city before he returns home to seek revenge, as shown from the perspective of his roommate, a fellow laborer. In the city their alienated identities initially formed a barrier between them, but as they travel to their respective hometowns, a connection grows between their spirits. Driven by emotions between the two of them that they can neither define nor clarify, the workers comprehend anew this narrative that transcends individual revenge, and realize that personal emotions may have an unconscious, irrational link with macrohistory. As the tetralogy concludes, reality and fantasy intertwine, past and present tenses antagonize each other, and fragments of China's modern history make fleeting appearances.


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.