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Ximaojia Universe

Mao Chenyu

Release year: 2009

Run time: 78 mins

Film type: Documentary


The artist returned to his hometown and immersed himself in the life of the community. Assuming the dual roles of an ethnic member and a writer, he conducted archaeological-style observations of the "Ximao Family," which consists of only eleven households and over twenty individuals. Through this process, he unearthed the internal messages and wrote the history and myths of the Ximao Family. Simultaneously, he created various objects and placed them within the community, exploring the unique meanings they acquire within the context of the community's existence and the corresponding worldview. The artwork, by situating the artist's position, constructs a historical and mythological lineage of an ordinary small village, with the aim of bringing forth its historical development through the medium of film.


Director biography

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.