Synthetic Reality

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video projection, sound track, light box

Wang Jianwei’s Is He a Traitor? is a mixed media installation consisting of video images, a sound track and a light-boxed photograph. In the same line with Last Words, this piece deals with revolutionary legacies within the territory of cinema. All the elements of the installation are from a sole source: Lenin in 1918, homage to the Bolshevik revolution, a Russian movie that was once extremely popular in China. Wang Jianwei recreated the movie in such a way, that a short scene from the movie is repeated endlessly, but during the course of time it fades gradually and eventually into the nothingness of gray pixels. And the sound is too, gradually desynchronized from the movie time line, until it concentrates on a question: 'Is he a traitor?', which refers to a character in the movie, a close revolutionary ally of Lenin who is accused of treason in the movie. A film still portrait of the character and a phrase on the light-box echoes the question. The phrase reads: look at my eyes, a famous phrase cited from the movie. The installation is housed in a dark movie-house like space only lit by the light-box, and viewers, engulfed in the tumultuous sounds of revolutionary rhetoric, the disembodied repetition of the question, and the ghostly fading movie images, are led into the equally dark passage of communism history in which idealism, utopianism, death and persecution permeated.


Wang Jianwei - Biography / some other works