Matadero Madrid center for contemporary creation
As 2019 recipient of the Han Nefkens Foundation – ARCOmadrid Video Art Production Award, artist Hao Jingban presents Opus One a dual-channel video installation at Matadero Madrid as part of their “Depth of Field” programme which focuses on the production, screening and study of contemporary audiovisual practice.
Documenting the changing experiences of people has been an important part of Jingban’s work. Based in a country that is rapidly changing and where people tend to jump to conclusions in order to understand what is happening around them she stresses the importance of simply observing, questioning and thinking within her work.
Opus One interweaves two seemingly distinct points in time and space in the history of music and dance movements. The film’s point of departure is 1930s Harlem in New York, when swing dance-forms such as ‘Lindy Hop’ and ‘The Charleston’ became widely popular as people turned to dance after the Great Depression. The film’s protagonists are Suzy and KC, a young Chinese couple in contemporary Beijing who trace the steps of the so-called “authentic jazz”, choreographing a set of dances while drawing references from vernacular and cheesy dance moves found on the popular Chinese digital video streaming platform, TikTok. The parallel narratives portray the irresistible attraction of synchronisation, affinity and the convergence of these two temporalities. As Duke Ellington famously sings, “If you should take the ‘A’ train, You’ll find you’ll get to where you’re going in a hurry.” But for some movements, their meaning will have to wait, and won’t be reached in a hurry.
Hao Jingban will also present a piece from 2018, entitled From South Lake Park to Red Flag Street. This piece reflects on an area in the north-east of China - previously called Manchuria and also (from 1932-45 while under Japanese rule) Manchukuo - that today encompasses three provinces all sharing a long border with Russia and North Korea. In this piece Jingban explores how both the Chinese and Japanese who had worked in a propaganda film studio which functioned from 1937 to the end of World War II were hesitant to talk about their time there. Given that even today the relationship between China and Japan remains tense their reticence came possibly out of shame or because they feared political repercussions. This piece is Jingban’s half imagined/half-factual deduction as to why they do not want to talk about it, it is also marks her conclusion that the past will always be preserved and truth will always come out, no matter how fragmented or twisted the words that record it. On a wider lever this piece also gives a possibility of how to evaluate those human experiences which are deemed out of the normal of politically incorrect.
Hao Jingban works with film and video to investigate the historical distance between the present viewer and a specific era from the past. In her research-based practice, Hao Jingban conducts historical investigation, archival research, field study, personal interviews, and live performances, weaving together complex historical narratives, social movements and cultural commentary against the ambivalence and silence of the bygone era. Previous works have focussed on ballroom dancing in Beijing before and after the Cultural Revolution and the films of North-eastern China from the 1930s.
Hao Jingban (b. 1985) completed a BA in Media and Communication with Goldsmiths College in 2007, and a MA in Film Studies with the University of London in 2010. She currently lives and works between Beijing and Berlin.