Stories from Beijing
An eye painting a page of time
The project presents ten short stories telling the intimate relationship between a foreign person and the city of Beijing. Each story has explored a topic that brings back the individual to a state of peace within the accelerated, crowded and multi-sensory contemporary city. Each topic has taken place in one specific urban space of Beijing, in which sounds and moving images have been recorded to create a two-minute video, laying the grounds for a poetry written in English, translated and read in Mandarin Chinese. The whole series offers an evolution in the personal experience of the individual with the city, inviting viewers to reflect on their own stories in the urban realm of everyday life.
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The short film has drawn the personal condition of the enigmatic foreigner, who seeks to adjust to the city’s everyday life by reimagining himself in places and experiences while the city is, in turn, recreated through his senses. He thus becomes a Baudelairian flâneur in a post-modern era; a lonely poet with an attentive eye walking aimlessly Beijing’s streets while producing aesthetic narratives of local details. As empiricist, his body has been grasped by the city’s contrasted liveliness before analysing and representing audio-visually what is personally experienced. Although the result is an artistic piece of work, each story has underlined research topics that are worth studying widely with the social and cultural contexts in which they are set. More broadly, the way the Chinese translator has rediscovered her own culture and city through the images and texts developed by the foreign author, is the sort of exchange that enhance the value attributed to cultural foundations and language schools (*) in creating bridges between different people. At last, an analogy could be made between the first contrasted impressions experienced by a Westerner living in Beijing to those of a Chinese person living in a Western city. In such context, it is our duty to conserve the rich identity of cultures against the homogenizing process of globalisation, in which we all take part.
(*) Project commissioned by the Fondazione Italia Cina.