The Northeast Tetralogy
Since 2017, Wang Tuo has been working on The Northeast Tetralogy, a video series project that has spanned over four years in its making. Taking northeast China as an entry point, this long-term project addresses northeast Asia's geopolitical dilemmas, taking reference from various historical moments in China's modern history, starting with the May Fourth Movement1 in 1919. Drawing from the New Democratic Revolution to the Kuomintang-Communist Civil War, current social events to an imagined near future, Wang Tuo adapts, appropriates and re-organizes the narratives of ancient Chinese folk tales and legends, stringing together the respective circumstances of his characters across time and space, while revealing the changing times and geography of the Northeast and modern China. From his fieldwork and the making of these works, Wang Tuo proposed the notion of 'pan-shamanization', referring to the physical bodies of people becoming the medium of historical consciousness. Their subconscious experiences of time and space become diachronic and reanimate during a period of radical transformation. This experience evolves into a perspective of how we conceive the modern history of which we are still living. Throughout the project, many threads develop, intertwine, and eventually converge in their own time and space. Here, the 'pan-shamanic' experience connects the different stages of China's history and traumatic geography. At the same time, it becomes a symbolic testimony to the possible middle grounds between history and the future, spiritual heritage and modernity.
1. The May Fourth Movement took place in 1919, prompted by the Paris Peace Conference held at the end of the First World War, in which China and Japan were both victors. Still, the Great Powers transferred the rights and concessions of defeated Germany in Shandong to Japan, also known as the Shandong Problem. Some students were extremely dissatisfied with the then Beiyang government's failure to defend the interests of the country and thus took to the streets to express their discontent. The May Fourth Movement marked the beginning of China's New Democratic Revolution and directly influenced the birth and development of the Chinese Communist Party.