between realism and utopia

An exhibition of Chinese propaganda posters entitled Between Realism and Utopia took place at the Old Power Plant (Stara elektrarna) from 5th to 26th May, 2005. The exhibition presented Chinese political propaganda posters from 1949 till 1979 and a documentary film West of Tracks [铁西区] by director Wang Bing. The visitors were able to view 28 reproductions of socialist propaganda posters that elevate the sentiments of heroism bordering on absurd and grotesque with their utter exaggeration of gestures and idealism. The exhibition presents the posters from the establishment of PR China in 1949 to the end of the decade of the so called “lost generation” of the Cultural Revolution. The flaming ideals of the first decade had been desolated by infamous political campaigns of the Great Leap Forward, 100 Flowers Movement and at their end mutated to the madness and zeal of the Cultural Revolution. Numerous artists had been interrogated and subdued to ideological re-education, often abandoning their creative work, many fell sick or even lost their lives. Nevertheless often, they were able to convey hidden messages in the idealistic pictures and had not ceased to prove, that the cultural revolution was not only iconoclastic.

More than nine hours long, film West Of The Tracks is a dauntingly massive documentary that matches the sprawling landscape at its centre — Shenyang’s Tiexi District, an industrial region in northeast China. Built in 1934 for the production of armaments, the industrial city had, by 1999, fallen deep into a long and irrevocable death agony, with its multitude of factories and workers’ homes left abandoned and dilapidated. Wang shot the film between 1999 and 2001, focusing on the few workers and residents left there. The film is separated into three parts, which were shown on separate screens.

[curator] Ida Hiršenfelder
[date and venue] 5th to 26th May, 2005, Stara Elektrarna, Ljubljana
[producer] Tina Popovič
[production] CodeEp, Festival of Spring, Yuan Sinology Society
[co-production] Bunker
[technical team] Andrej Petrovčič, Duško Pušica
[acknowledgements] William G. White, Linda Belina, Bojana Veršič, Meta Hauptman, Jasna Bavec, Roman Križanič, Matic Urbanija, Mojca Jug, Martin Bricelj Baraga
[suported by] Ljubljana City Municipaliry, Ministry of Culture of Republic of Slovenia

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