Triple Canopy and Asia Art Archive in America presented a virtual screening of recent works by the artist and filmmaker Bo Wang. The works deal with colonial-era exchanges between the United States, Britain, and China, contrasting them with contemporary scenes of international commerce, as characterized by industrial ports and special economic zones. Wang examines the nineteenth-century trade in opium, lacquerware, and indigenous plants, among other goods, which linked the three nations and was commonly depicted in paintings and ceramics of the time; later, these exchanges were taken up by Hollywood in movies like Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955) and Tai-Pan (1986).
In his films, Wang considers the spatial reorderings and epistemological reclassifications accompanying the West’s imperial incursions—as well as the immense profits garnered, particularly through the opium trade. With an eye to the reverberations of these encounters in the present, Wang asks how people understand themselves and others through the circulation of goods, the filming of fictions, and the invention of systems to contain and categorize the wares, tales, and peoples of foreign nations.
The virtual screening was followed by a discussion with Wang and Triple Canopy senior editor Matthew Shen Goodman.
Bo Wang is an artist, filmmaker and researcher based in the Netherlands. His works have been exhibited internationally, including venues like Guggenheim Museum and Museum of Modern Art (New York), Garage Museum (Moscow), International Film Festival Rotterdam, Image Forum Festival (Tokyo), CPH:DOX (Copenhagen), Times Museum (Guangzhou), Para Site (Hong Kong), among others. He received a fellowship from the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar in 2013, and was an artist-in-residency at ACC-Rijksakademie from 2017 to 2018 as well as at NTU CCA in 2016. He is currently a PhD candidate at Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis, University of Amsterdam.