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Symptomatic Silence of
Complicit Forgetting

#  Short  Film Collage 1  - Re-making History and Memory

Symptomatic Silence of Complicit Forgetting    

Language: Chinese
Subtitle:  Chinese and English 
22/10, 20:00-21:30
Sinema Transtopia

WANG Tuo, Mainland China 2019, 26 min. 

German Premiere

A writer with a writer's block and a woman secretly in distraught, try to heal the wounds in their

memories unbeknown to others in their respective worlds despite living in the same room. This

contemporary Chinese family, both real and fictional, is engulfed under an alienating

atmosphere inhabited by both men and ghosts. In another scenario, a young red guard

mistakenly enters a room piled with abandoned books and manuscripts, captivated from reading

an ancient story, he suddenly hears the marching sounds outside the window and steps out of

the door. This traumatic memory from a half-century ago has again come undone. A blueprint

unique to Chinese stories, as distant and personal as it may seem, remains prevalent in those

undetected phantom suffering and discretely hidden in the Chinese realities.

The German scholar Aleida Assmann proposed the notion of Complicit Forgetting in Forms of

Forgetting. According to whom, when the system attempts to destroy part of a memory from the

past, its victims would often exhibit silence symptomatically. Their compounded silence

becomes a kind of complicity. As the writer could not heal the wound in his memory through

writing, those who share historical trauma would also fall into the unconscious collective silence,

that eventually becomes ineffable. It festers over time, and metastasizes in emotional

relationships. In the temporal and spatial dimensions where memories and reality overlap, the

silence of traumatic experiences wanes from unwritten, unable to be written, and eventually

becomes untraceable. Like the subtle relationship where man and ghost cohabit: the struggle

between personal and historical trauma eventually becomes powerless, and their reconciliation

becomes impossible.

Director's Bibliography:

WANG Tuo (b. 1984, Changchun, China) interweaves Chinese modern history, cultural

archives, fiction and mythology into speculative narratives. Equating his practice to novel

writing, he stages an intervention in historical literary texts and cultural archives to formulate

stories that blur the boundaries of time and space, facts and imagination. His work spans across

film, performative elements, painting and drawing. The multidimensional chronologies he

constructs, interspersed with conspicuous and hidden clues, expose the underlying historical

and cultural forces at work within society. Embracing a uniquely Chinese hauntology, Wang

proposes “pan-shamanization” as an entry point to unravel the suppressed and untreated

memories of 20th century China. Through historical inquiry, Wang’s works, often unsettling and

dramatic, disentangle collective unconsciousness and historical traumas. His more recent work

critiques contemporary conditions of censorship, more specifically the tensions within the push

and pull between artist and authority.

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