This conversation, originally conducted in Chinese, explores the role of films, movie theaters, screens, streaming platforms, and documentary filmmaking in China during the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Zhang Zhen and Jiang Jiehong—professors at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, and Birmingham City University, UK, respectively—discuss the human rights movement prompted by state-sanctioned racist violence, feminist interventions in filmmaking practices, documentation of the pandemic in China, and tensions between state discourse and minjian (unofficial, unaffiliated, grassroots, and among-the-people) narratives.
Life in-between Screens: “The World, Two Meters Away”
Zhang Zhen is an associate professor of cinema studies and director of the Asian Film and Media Initiative at New York University. Her publications include An Amorous History of the Silver Screen: Shanghai Cinema 1896–1937 (University of Chicago Press, 2005), The Urban Generation: Chinese Cinema and Society at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century (Duke University Press, 2007), and DV-Made China: Digital Subjects and Social Transformations after Independent Film (University of Hawaii Press, 2015). She founded the Reel China Biennial at NYU and has curated film programs for the Film Society at Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Women Make Waves film festival, Taiwan.
Jiang Jiehong is a professor of Chinese art and director of the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts at Birmingham City University, UK, and principal editor of the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art. Jiang is author/editor of many books, including The Revolution Continues: New Art from China (Rizzoli, 2008), Red: China’s Cultural Revolution (Random House UK, 2010), An Era without Memory: Chinese Contemporary Photography on Urban Transformation (Thames and Hudson, 2015), The Otherness of the Everyday: Twelve Conversations from the Chinese Art World During the Pandemic (Intellect Books, forthcoming in 2021), and The Art of Contemporary China (Thames and Hudson, forthcoming in 2021).
Ellen Y. Chang is a PhD candidate in cinema and media studies at the University of Washington. Her dissertation, “Unseen Sounds, Unheard Images: Daomin, Aesthetic Decolonization, and Contemporary Moving Images in Taiwan,” examines the transactional encounter among contemporary Taiwanese video art/installation, cinema, and popular culture as processes of aesthetic decolonization. Her audio-walk project Untitled Vignettes: Multisensory Encounter and Community Building in Contemporary Audiovisual Works of Taiwan and course series Performing City: Transdisciplinary Experiences and Embodied Modes of Research explore more engaged understandings of how audiovisual art reflects (re-)occurring themes of everyday politics across international geographies.
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Zhang Zhen, Jiang Jiehong, Ellen Y. Chang; Life in-between Screens: “The World, Two Meters Away”. Feminist Media Histories 1 January 2021; 7 (1): 61–80. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2021.7.1.61
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