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Title: Surviving to Oneself after Tiananmen: Wang Xiaoshuai’s Frozen (1996)
Authors: Erik Bordeleau
Issue Date: Sep-2014
Publisher: 英語學系
Department of English, NTNU
Abstract: In Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive, Agamben develops a subtle analysis of the irreducible ambiguity inherent to the verb “to survive.” “From the beginning,” writes Agamben, “the verb also has a reflexive form when referred to human beings, which designates the striking idea of survival with respect to oneself and one’s own life. In this form, the one who survives and the person to whom something survives thus coincide” (132). Strangely enough, it is exactly what is at stake in the performance around which Wang Xiaoshuai’s movie Frozen (1996) revolves. Qi Lei puts into work his own suicide, letting everybody believe that he is actually dead; everybody but the curator of the exhibit, who will take care of the artist’s secret “survival,” and Qi Lei’s sister, who, as a doctor, signs a false death certificate. Therefore, technically, the movie displays an artist who has survived performatively to himself. How to interpret the remnants of this performance? What has happened, what has “passed,” what has been lost in this passage between life and death? What does this movie tell us about life-that-continues after the 1989 Tiananmen massacre and China’s entrance into the global economy? Showing the precarious condition of a small Beijing performance art community, Wang Xiaoshuai’s Frozen offers a convincing and well-informed allegory of the aftermaths of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre, as well as an interesting glance at what has become one of the most dynamic sectors of Chinese underground culture of the end of the 20th century and beyond.
Other Identifiers: 5781593D-5B19-2F88-BCC4-6A9DF077BAC5
Appears in Collections:Concentric: Studies in English Literature and Linguistics

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