"What About China" Amongst the Best of Trinh T. Minh Ha's Ouevre
Trinh T. Minh-ha’s latest film, What About China? (Part 1 of 2), presents a poetic and anti-ethnographic aesthetic exploration of rural life in China during 1993-1994. Commissioned by NTU CCA Singapore and co-commissioned with Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai, the film combines low-res footage, archival images, still photographs, collected folk songs, original compositions, and narrated voice-overs to create an "index of the disappearing and the disappeared."
Trinh's zoomed-in camera roves through Guo Xi’s paintings, presenting intimate first-hand experiences rooted in historical accounts of a Maoist China. The film asks what is it about rural life that scares the leadership, pointing out that 41% of Chinese people still lived a rural life in 2018, despite China’s “great uprooting” plan. Trinh's reflexivity is subtly felt throughout the film, reminding the viewer that history is a construct, one in which she is taking part. What About China? is a poetic and thought-provoking exploration of rural life in China that explores the disappearing and the disappeared in the context of a rapidly changing nation.