At Home in the World | Chicago Reader

At Home in the World

In Bumming in Beijing: The Last Dreamers (1990), Wu Wenguang documented the lives of five Chinese artists before and after the Tiananmen Square massacre; this 1995 sequel finds all but one of them Western expatriates, sharing tales of frustration and assimilation—some funny, others poignant—and a marked ambivalence toward the motherland. Wu records telling moments from their daily routines and solicits candid remarks about their lives, asking tough, intimate questions and waiting for the responses to unfold, warts and all. The expatriates—and their colleague who?s stayed behind in Beijing—come across as vivid personalities whose hope and despair are common to us all. This video is more polished than the original, slicker and more “Western,” but Wu is equally astute in his observations. The video ends with one of the artists returning to Beijing, and Wu promises another installment, in the manner of Michael Apted?s 7 Up series. I, for one, can't wait.

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