Miasma, Plants, Export Paintings
The miasma theory related the origin and spread of disease to so-called miasmas, harmful, polluted air, and was still a well-established belief in the 19th century. The unorthodox essay film of Chinese artists Bo Wang and Pan Lu starts with this myth of miasma, here fear of the tropical climate that enabled the colonial masters to link their ideas about epidemics to the environment and race. The collage-like film contemplation examines the correlation between colonial expansion, science, and the fabrication of images. For example, the filmmakers find traces of these problematic interrelations in the botanical illustrations which were produced by local artists commissioned by the British Botanic Empire whose expansion during the 19th century led to economic, societal and political changes still felt today. With a discerning eye for the continuity of power structures, Wang and Pan condense old and new archive material into a provocative visual analysis.
Bo Wang (born1982) is an artist and filmmaker based in Brooklyn, New York. His works have been exhibited internationally, including venues like Guggenheim and Museum of Modern Art in New York, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, Image Forum Festival in Tokyo, DMZ
Docs in South Korea, CPH:DOX in Copenhagen, Times Museum in Guangzhou, BOZAR in Brussels, among many others. He received a fellowship from the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar in 2013, and was an artist-in-residence at ACC-Rijksakademie 2017-2018 as well as NTU CCA in 2016. Bo Wang teaches in Visual and Critical Studies at the School of Visual Arts, New York.
Pan Lu is a filmmaker and scholar based in Hong Kong. She received her PhD from Comparative Literature, The University of Hong Kong. Previously, she studied in Shanghai and Bayreuth in literature and cultural studies. Her current research interests include visual culture, urban space, war memory and theories of aesthetics. She teaches Chinese-language cinema, literature and cultural history as an assistant professor at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.