Jianwei Wang
Dilemma, three way of fork in the road

In Dilemma: Three Way Fork in the Road, Wang references Peking opera in a re-interpretation of traditional text. The performance begins with two broad-knife-wielding characters circling each other in conventional operatic steps. Oblivious to the presence of these two on stage, additional characters, in a mix of period costume and contemporary dress, enter the stage in increasing droves to consume a various of foods laid out on a table until they collapse and pile on top of each other. Invoking the traditional Chinese theatrical trope of a “three-way fork in the road,” the piece ruminates on the representation of the visible and the invisible and the simultaneity of past and present as critical reflection on the shortcomings of both antiquarianism and technocratic modernity.

Born in Sichuan Province, China in 1958, Wang Jianwei was trained as a painter at the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (current China Academy of Fine Arts) in Hangzhou. Despite displaying technical virtuosity as a painter, Wang chose a working method that combines video, film and theater. Interested in combining the mundane, the historical, and the mythological, Wang’s works range from depicting the “plight of peasants occupying an abandoned housing project in Sichuan Province to films of post-1949 China during the height of Communist fervor and stories from the Tang Dynasty.” Particularly, poignant is the cognitive dissonance formed between presentations of the past and present in Wang’s work.