Friday: Kiki Tianqi Yu

First Person Expression on Non-Western Screens

Kiki Tianqi Yu (University of the West of Scotland)

Self expression is a vital force that shapes media and art practices across various forms. In different historical periods and geo-political entities, individuals and collectives have been searching for ways and tactics to articulate their voices for numerous motivations. As a familiar strategy of social engagement in Western cinema, first person documentary has also been practiced by filmmakers, artists and amateurs in non-Western countries and regions. This presentation explores first person expression in documentary and nonfiction film in the 21st century China, within the contexts of increasingly individualising society, diversified technologies of media platforms, and intensifying political constraints. Taking the self as a focal point, first person filmmaking serves as a nostalgic reconnection to the disappearing ‘laojia’ (old home, 老家) and familial relations, a way to search for the conflicted and multi-layered self, or to engage with their surroundings for a more politicalised public space. Through various aesthetic strategies of self-inscription – such as self revelation in video diaries, provocative and performative action documentary, interactive online streaming (zhibo, 直播), and more ideographic and essayistic image writing (yingxiang xiezuo, 影像写作) to express the ineffable – first person filmmaking provides new insights on how the sense of self is understood and performed on non-Western screens, and problematises notions of individualism and individuality. It is also a constructive force for the filmmaker, an ongoing process of negotiating cultural, social, political and gender conventions and limitations, while expressing the self on camera.

Kiki Tianqi YU is a filmmaker, scholar, and film curator. She is the author of ‘My’ Self On Camera: First Person Documentary Practice in an Individualising China (Edinburg University Press, 2018), the co-editor of China’s iGeneration: Cinema and Moving Image Culture for the 21st Century (2014). Her film includes Photographing Shenzhen (2007), Memory of Home (2009), awards-winning feature documentary China’s van Goghs (2016). Kiki lives and works in China and Britain.

Friday 29, 9.00-10.30

UvA, OMHP, Room D1.08
(Oudemanhuispoort 4-6, 1012 CN Amsterdam)