Lauded by international critics for his films and docu-fictions, Wang Bing will exclusively present his latest documentary, Father and Sons, as well as a series of photographs that has never been exhibited before.
For several days, Wang Bing filmed and photographed the wretched daily life of Cai, who left the countryside to work as a stonemason in a factory in the city of Fuming, in the province of Yunnan. His two children have joined him and the three of them live in a four square-meter room, containing only one bed and an oven. At night, the father goes to work and leaves the bed to his sons. Wang Bing met the two boys while he was filming Three Sisters.
With his camera over his shoulder, Wang Bing captures the lives of men and women on the margins of contemporary Chinese society. He films their life experiences using long shots and without artifice. The empathy and discretion of his camera are so apparent that the protagonists of the film manage to completely forget that it’s there. Thus, Bing shows their humanity, their strengths and their vulnerability without concession.
An observer of profound cultural, human, political and economic changes in his country, Want Bing bears witness with an astonishing realism to the social outcasts of China’s triumphal march. Through the portrait of these destinies, he shows the social realities facing the Chinese population. His activist films provide a somber perspective on the increasing seriousness of hardship and inequality in China. The Western values of democracy and the welfare state have not penetrated the borders of the country, which has allowed individual material and economic interests to run wild.
Though he is a major Chinese filmmaker, Wang Bing nevertheless films in secret, and his films are forbidden in China. After the Pompidou Center in Paris, the Cinematek in Brussels will be dedicating a full retrospective to his cinematographic work this autumn.
As a photographer, Wang Bing began to develop an original artistic direction as of the 1980s. Differing from the photographic direction taken in his films, for his photographs he has decided to return to the sites where he has filmed, after the fact. Thus, his photographic series also echo his work as a filmmaker.
Born in 1967 in Shaanxi, a province in central China, Wang Bing first studied photography at the Shenyang Academy of Fine Art before taking classes in cinema at the Film School as of 1985. Released in 2003, his first opus, West of the Tracks (Tie Xi Qu), is a monumental feature length film of 551 minutes, filmed in the northern Chinese district of Tiexi. He retraces the lives of workers and their families in an enormous, declining industrial complex at the turn of the 21st century.