Beijing, with its allure and contradictions, with its pulse towards the future and its historic stratifications, has often been the protagonist of films which captured various aspects of the city and made them part of the collective imagination in Asia and the rest of the world. While Imperial Beijing with the magnificence, splendour and solemnity of its top symbol - the Forbidden City - is at the centre of the masterpiece The Last Emperor (1987), shot by Bernardo Bertolucci within the most famed red walls of the whole world, East Palace, West Palace (1996) by Zhang Yuan brings us into the abyss of the human soul with a story which sees its two protagonist seek out their true identity in a police station a few steps away from the Forbidden City itself. The same underground atmospheres can found in the documentary by Zhao Liang, Farewell, Yuanmingyuan (1995), dedicated to the colony of artists in the ancient Summer Palace of Yuanmingyuan, a crossroads of dreams, hopes and disappointment with its destiny tied to that of contemporary art in China, along with some of its most well-known and respected players. Beijing Bicycle (2001) by Wang Xiaoshuai brings us across Beijing in a journey which ranges far and wide throughout the city - from the tiny alleyways (hutong) dominated by low grey-brick houses with shared courtyards where numerous families shares common bathrooms and kitchens to the enormous urban roadways, travelled by an endless river of humans.
This exhibition is part of the celebration of the one-hundred year anniversary of the founding of Tsinghua University, one of China’s most prestigious.