Two Chinese independent films—Wang Bing’s Golden Leopard-winning “Mrs. Fang” and Xu Bing’s “Dragonfly Eyes”— competed for the Golden Leopard at this year’s Locarno International Film Festival (both played Tiff a few weeks later). Wang and Xu are established names whose works speak to the intersection between cinema and contemporary art. Both of their films belong to the category of experimental/conceptual documentary, and together they provide distinctive windows into contemporary Chinese society. At the same time, the differences between them couldn’t be any greater. They are formal opposites: when handling images of the real, Wang is minimalist, and abstinent, austere, while Xu is maximalist, provocative and melodramatic.
Commissioned by Documenta 14 and originally conceived as a video art piece,