Deframing “Dong”: Liu Xiaodong and Jia Zhangke

By Aija Laura Zivitere.

Published by The Arts Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper analyses the cinematic and painterly elements in works by the artist Liu Xiaodong and the filmmaker Jia Zhangke by focusing on Jia’s documentary “Dong” (2006). Though long-term friends, who influence each other through conversation, each has his own relationships with both arts: taking different cinematic jobs in the case of Liu (as an actor, art director, co-producer, etc.); studying art before studying cinema in the case of Jia.
Central to this paper is an analysis of two framing practices: one visual by Liu, the other cinematic by Jia. The film “Dong” is de-framed, first discussing Liu’s framings, his drawings and photographs used in the painting process, and then Jia’s framings, his sets, characters, and props. In doing this, the author uses the texts of Gilles Deleuze on cinema and painting within the theoretical framework of nonmodernism proposed by Bruno Latour. Though attention is paid to a few seminal Chinese texts, the author argues that European and global art practices are fundamental for both artists: oil painting, especially the works of Lucian Freud, for Liu Xiaodong; transnational filmmaking and European film festival discourses for Jia Zhangke.
This paper stresses essential aesthetic changes in Jia’s cinematic style in co–and post-“Dong” films and specifically in his thinking about the body. As Jia in an interview says, “After working with Liu Xiaodong I’ve started to think about the people in my films more as natural beings … not just as social creatures in a web of relationships” (“Useless” Press Kit).

Keywords: Cinema, Gilles Deleuze, Framing, Jia Zhangke, Liu Xiaodong, Painting

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 4, Issue 6, pp.327-338. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.168MB).

Aija Laura Zivitere

Lecturer, Department of Culture and Design, Riga, Latvia

Aija Laura Zivitere is a Researcher and Lecturer in Research Methods at the Information Systems Management Institute in Riga, Latvia. Currently she is working on her doctoral dissertation on Ai Weiwei. Since 2006 she has been involved in a research project about auteur cinema on the one hand and cinema made by artists on the other. She previously studied music theory and history and has worked as a music producer, an assistant film director and a music and film critic.


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