From April 14th to May 26th, Paris’s Centre Georges Pompidou held an exhibit on Chinese director Wang Bing, showcasing both his photography and documentary and feature work. At the same time, the center screened several features by Spanish experimental filmmaker Jaime Rosales, extending the “conversation” both artists began with the Centro de Cultura Contemporánea de Barcelona’s “Correspondence(s)” series. However, these features were shown in traditional cinema spaces, while the exhibit area itself included Wang’s portraits and installations alongside Rosales’s entries into the “Correspondence(s).” If there was a dialogue, then, it wasn’t so much between the Chinese director and his Spanish colleague, but rather between the former’s photography and his own filmmaking.
Wang had originally intended to study architecture, but entry requirements schooling were so steep in the early 1990s, that when it came time to pick a college major, despite spending years preparing for architecture school, he finally chose photography at the Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts. But he would find his real vocation in cinema, and after graduating from Lu Xun, he continued his studies at the Beijing Film Academy. As he admitted in an interview for New Left Review: “Personally, I was not particularly attracted by the seizing of a given moment; for me, the moving image was far more interesting.” Nevertheless, he never stopped “seizing given moments,” though he owes his international reputation to his “moving images,” especially his nine-hour documentary epic West of the Tracks from 2003.