Tape | Chicago Reader

Tape

Made over five years, this video by Chinese performance artist Li Ning presents his efforts to create guerrilla street theater even as his marriage dissolves and his finances dwindle. Much of the art comes across as a haute version of MTV's Jackass, the stunts ranging from an illegal parade with counterfeit money used as confetti to a nude interpretive dance staged on a rocky demolition site. As director-editor, Li constructs a junkyard aesthetic from home movie footage, dance routines, and some low-rent digital effects. This may look amateurish, but Li structures the footage pointedly, slowly broadening the movie's perspective to consider his hometown of Jinan during a period of rapid industrial development. As neighborhoods are demolished and Li's lower-middle-class colleagues struggle to make ends meet, his self-defeating art comes to seem like a sane response to uncertain times. In Mandarin with subtitles.

Credits

Director:

  • Richard Linklater

Cast:

  • Ethan Hawke
  • Robert Sean Leonard
  • Uma Thurman

Producers:

  • Alexis Alexanian
  • Anne Walker-McBay
  • Gary Winick
  • Caroline Kaplan
  • Johnathan Selvig
  • John Sloss
  • Robert Cole
  • David Richenthal

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