From 2012 to 2017, Yi Cui was engaged with two film projects, Of Shadows (2016) on traditional Chinese shadow theatre, and the other, Screening from Within (2018) on travelling film projection in the western rural China.
These traveling cinema projects together with the two pieces in this exhibition look into the relationships between the movement of screens across geographical and cultural spaces and the new meanings generated.
Interesting parallels emerge between the mythological origin of Chinese shadow theatre and the contemporary practice of migrating cinema. Films from the early years of the People’s Republic of China and traditional shadow plays carry local and national authorities’ voices charged with educating and morally uplifting the masses.
The shadow theatres’ puppet players and the film projectionists’ performance reshape the films, creating discrepancies, mis-readings, and misinterpretations. Spontaneity opens up negotiation between the masses and the political authorities. These interventions channel the needs and voices of the mass audience into production and reception processes. They hold the potential to subvert the performances' original intentions.
Cinema’s meandering across geographic and cultural spaces is open-ended. As soon as it arrives, it departs. In these perpetually shifting spaces, the local voice speaks and is heard.