In the film installation, Duilian, Wu Tsang (USA) recreates the untold love story of the famous 19th-century Chinese poet, feminist and revolutionary Qiu Jin (秋瑾) and the female calligrapher and publisher Wu Zhiying (吳芝瑛). A revered figure in China for her martyrdom in the anti-Manchu revolution, Qiu also defied gender norms, refusing to bind her feet and dressing as a man.
Set aboard a ship in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, Duilian moves between Qing Dynasty China and present-day Hong Kong. In this cinematic work, martial arts action sequences are interwoven with tender scenes of Qiu Jin and Madame Wu. Played by Wu Tsang and her real-life partner and collaborator, boychild, they converse with one another using translations of Qiu Jin’s poems.
Based in New York and Berlin, Tsang developed the film’s script through a series of collective ‘mistranslation’ sessions with members of Hong Kong’s queer communities, allowing for multiple readings, imaginings and desires to emerge. Rewriting the dominant narrative of Qiu Jin’s life into a story of love and loss, Duilian interrogates the role that language plays in shaping history and the assumptions and omissions that reside within.
Funding provided by the United States Government.