FAT CHINA
A showcase of film, art and theatre. The exhibition is complemented by a comprehensive programme of activities.

The “FAT (Film Art & Theatre) China” exhibition brings the spirit of independent creative practice in China to the University for the Creative Arts’ Farnham campus. Showcasing collections from the recently launched Chinese Independent Film Archive (CIFA) located in Newcastle University, a range of thought-provoking works in film, art and theatre produced by independent artists from China will be displayed to throw a new light on creative practice and provoke discussion.

Event details

  • 8 February 2024 - 9 March 2024

    10:00 - 17:00 (GMT)

    Foyer Gallery, UCA Farnham, Falkner Road, Surrey GU9 7DS

FAT (Film Art & Theatre) China

“FAT China” presents Ren Zhijun’s drawings, Wang Wo’s film posters and Wu Wenguang’s documentary – Bumming in Beijing. By showcasing different forms of artistic works from the three artists, the audience will have a glimpse into the artistic spirit in China from the 1980s onwards.

The exhibition includes three parts:

Ren Zhijun’s sketches focus on portraying ordinary Chinese people’s life in the 1980s China. The crucial aspect of Ren’s artwork is the use of text to describe the character’s life experiences, giving the work a strong temporal characteristic. His artwork maintains a thoughtful reflection on the society and the time. His sketch portraits remain the most characteristic aspect of his work. This exhibition will display Ren’s works in the 1980s, which captured the social fabric of China in the turbulent 1980s. 

Wang Wo’s posters offer a captivating window into the rich legacy of Chinese independent films and film exhibition. The exhibited posters, meticulously chosen from over two hundred designs spanning the years from 2005 to 2023 are being presented to the public outside Newcastle Upon Tyne for the very first time.

Wu Wenguang’s acclaimed documentary Bumming in Beijing (1990, 70mins) portrays five artists – a writer, a photographer, two painters and a director of avant-garde theatre – who reject a life tethered to the state system yet still hope to modernize the urban cultural scene. Their frank ruminations about life, art, and the future are punctuated by ground-breaking verité shots of people doing their chores in squalid back alleys and studio apartment.

Artists’ portfolio: 

Ren Zhijun: has been engaged in Fine Art for more than 40 years. His expertise is on sketching, oil painting and sculpture. Ren Zhijun exhibited his art works on the “Xidan Democracy Wall” in Beijing Xidan in 1979, which became one of the earliest grassroots art exhibitions in China. From November 1978 to December 1979, thousands of people put up “big character posters” on a long brick wall on Xidan Street, Xicheng District of Beijing, to express and create discussion about political and social issues in China, soon after the end of the Cultural Revolution. The wall became known as the “Democracy Wall”.

Wang Wo: was born in Hubei, and later studied and lived in Beijing. He learned painting as a teenager and studied design at the university. He has worked as a graphic designer for many years and produced video works and independent documentaries and has produced a number of documentaries such as Outside (2005), Noise (2007), and A Filmless Festival (2015).

Wu Wenguang: Wu was born in south-western China’s Yunnan province in 1956 and studied Chinese Literature in Yunnan University. He then worked as a teacher at a junior high school for three years, and later, worked in the television as a journalist for four years. In 1988, Wu left television and moved to Beijing to be an independent documentary filmmaker, freelance writer and creator and producer of dance/theatre. In 2005, Wu founded the Village Documentary Project, and in 2010, co-founded the Folk Memory Project.

Launch Event:

FAT China will open at 5pm on the 8th of Feb with a special launch event with welcome speeches by Prof Nigel Ward (Head of Film Media and Performing Art School at UCA), Prof. Sabrina Qiong Yu (founder of CIFA, Newcastle University) and Jiang Zuosi (co-curator of Ren Zhijun’s Democracy Wall exhibition) followed by various traditional Chinese performances, including Calligraphy, Paper-cutting Window Art, Kung/Fu etc. This launch event will also give the audience a chance to make their own piece of Paper-cutting Window Art and to write their own Couplets! 

Other Activities:

Every Thursday during the month of the exhibition (15th of Feb, 22nd of Feb, 29th of Feb and 7th of March), we will also welcome schools to visit the exhibition. A maximum of 20 pupils per school visit can be accommodated.

Every Friday throughout the month of the exhibition (16th 23rd of February; 1st and 8th of March), there will be three Chinese films and one Chinese theatre performance recording screened in the G14 - cinema at UCA Farnham. Each screening will be followed by a discussion. Free Entry!

  • 4-6:30pm, 16th of February Self-portrait: Fairy Tale in 47KM (Zhang Mengqi, 2021, 109mins)
  • 4-6pm, 23rd of February The Revolution Will Not Be Air-conditioned (Wang Bo, 2022, 27mins) An Asian Ghost Story (Wang Bo, 2022, 37mins)
  • 4-6pm, 1st of March Maria by the Sea (Tawfiq Nizamidin, 2019, 38mins)
  • 4-6pm, 8th of March Reading Virus (Caochangdi Workstation, 2021, 97mins)

“FAT (Film Art & Theatre) China” is curated by Dr Ang Gao, (Lecturer in Film Production, UCA), co-curated and supported by CIFA, Newcastle University and University for the Creative Arts.