Curated by Ariane Beyn
A video conversation by Hao Jingban, Jiang Meng, Su Wei
As a coda to the exhibition Readings From Below, Times Art Center Berlin presents The Fault Zone, Volume I: Y(our) Movement (2020). The work consists of three short videos based on conversations between artist Hao Jingban, film scholar Jiang Meng, and curator Su Wei. It marks the beginning of an ongoing project initiated by the three of them.
In her video installation Opus One, which formed part of our exhibition, Hao experiments with the (im)possibility of reviving the social power of African American swing dance in a different cultural and historical context. The new collaborative piece offers reflections on conflicting identifications with social movements in our current pandemic times. Last year’s Black Lives Matter and Hong Kong protests and their lingering impact on the authors’ social identities within the environments they are presently living in—New York, Berlin, and Beijing, respectively—are the subject of a conversation carried on in three video letters. The authors’ discrepant desires for detachment from and engagement with the protesting crowds are presented in the form of first-person narratives in voice-over and subtitles, mixed with self-shot footage and clips from the internet.
„We seem to be standing at the center of a historical storm. The distinction between the in and out of an incident became invalid after the outbreak of the pandemic, and this feeling has become stronger since January 2020. There is no way out of the situation, and we do not have a choice to detach or disassociate. In the face of all movements, events and disasters that have happened in 2020, what is “me” and what is the distance between “me” and “it”? The project “The Fault Zone” came into being from this basic question. This project attempts to propose the necessity of repeated self-identification in a reality full of contradictions and disasters in 2020: my emotions, my position, my demand for truth, my thoughts about the knowledge behind the truth, and the consideration of the mechanical production of emotions.
Volume I of The Fault Zone comes from a prolonged conversation among the three initiators since the second half of 2020. Simultaneously in New York, Berlin and Beijing, we all began to think about the relationship between the Black Lives Matter movement and ourselves. We collected and debated various information and judgments about this movement, watched each other, dissected our reactions triggered in our own situation, and shared our physical and emotional experiences. In this process of daily communication, we gradually shifted our focus on the sense of belonging and detachment between the self and the activist movement. As a result, we created these three videos together, presenting three distinct attitudes towards activism: Jiang Meng witnessed and participated in the Black Lives Matter movement as an Asian, differentiating and analyzing the common circumstances between two racial groups; Hao Jingban, who had only arrived in Berlin in January of 2020, began her observation inward and of her surroundings during the pandemic, attempting to consider the obstacles to empathize with and between people from different levels of activist involvement; Su Wei employs a fictional story about traveling between borders to focus on the finiteness and instability of people under the societal systematic conflicts. The three of us are not only thinking about the social construct, but also the state of perception. People can shout and rewrite history in rage, but how can we identify the psychology, unconsciousness and emotion of this historical subject? Can they always justify themselves? This question will be the premise for us to start this dialogue.”
– Hao Jingban, Jiang Meng, Su Wei