Swimming, Dancing (2023)
Director: Ian Wang
Runtime: 8 mins
Language: English, Mandarin Chinese, with English subtitles
Swimming, Dancing examines audiovisual representations of the Yangtze (1934–present), from silent film to video art to the contemporary vlog. Used by poets and politicians alike for personal or ideological ends, the Yangtze has often been domesticated as a symbol. The river itself, part of a natural world that predates human habitation along its banks, defies such interpretations. Over the last century, it has been transformed beyond recognition by industrialisation and pollution. Inspired by the city symphonies of the 1920s, Swimming, Dancing pieces together a “river symphony”, evoking the images, sounds and contradictions that make up the river’s turbulent history, suggesting that, if the Yangtze represents anything, it is the mercurial relationship between humanity and nature.
About the Director
Ian Wang is a writer and critic living in London. His work on film, literature and music has appeared in the Baffler, Sight & Sound, Jacobin, The New York Times and others. He is particularly interested in internet culture, science fiction and Chinese cinema.
About Monographs 2023
Monographs is a series of video and text essays on Asian cinema commissioned by the Asian Film Archive (AFA). Monographs offers a critical platform for writers and thinkers to discourse upon the moving image beyond the walls of the cinema. Responding to changing geological and socio-political landscapes, Monographs 2023 explores the tensions between form and formlessness, sound and silence, as landscapes are continually sinking, shifting, stirring.
You can view the video essays part of Monographs 2023 as part of an exhibition at the Oldham Theatre foyer from 26 October – 8 December 2023.