Accepted paper:

The Good Man of Shanxi : the post socialist aesthetics of Jia Zhangke


Ishita Tiwary (Jawaharlal Nehru University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will examine the ethics and aesthetics of documentation and memory in Postsocialist China through the works of the film maker Jia Zhangke.

Paper long abstract:

This paper proposes to examine the post socialist aesthetics of Jia Zhangke, as his films remain deeply engaged with Chinese society in a Post socialist era, making implicit claims regarding the nature of Chinese urban reality today and the ethics and aesthetics of its documentation and memory. Postsocialism, according to Paul Pickowicz, designates the public disillusionment and skepticism about officially defined socialist ideology. Both the key-theme cinema that trumpets socialist policies and the commercial cinema that subscribes to capitalist logic are endorsed by a state ideology that seeks to occlude social problems and injustice caused by one sided economic reform. It is against these two modes of filmmaking that post-1990s amateur documentary and the films of Jia Zhangke position themselves. Its goal is to initiate an alternative— "a third type of imaging. The paper will look at this technologically- through analyzing the third type of imaging, and its ideological role in documenting Chinese urban reality. The proposed paper will also look at it spatially- by exploring the tension between memory, place and trauma phenomenologically. This would be done by exploring and mapping the city of urban ruins in Zhangke's films.Finally the proposed paper will look at Zhangke's films as a cultural form that contests 'the official story' and will look at Postsocialism and by extension Post socialist cinema as an anxiety causing force that continues to generate feelings of deprivation, disillusion, despair, disdain, and sometimes even indignation and outrage when it comes to the documentation of its history and memory.

panel P52
Vernacular perspectives on arts and aesthetics