Ye Shangai (live!)

Roberto Paci Dalò’s film Ye Shanghai (2012) is a hauntingly vivid work. Its subject is the Shanghai ghetto: during the Japanese occupation of the city (1937–45), no visa was required to enter its harbour; as a result, it attracted around 20,000 Jewish refugees, all of whom were forced to live in Hongkou, one of the city’s poorest districts. The film’s soundtrack – performed live by the artist– is a mix of urban soundscapes, voices in English, Yiddish, Chinese and German, as well as music samples, which are only revealed as part of the melody of a popular Chinese song from 1949, ‘Ye Shanghai’ at the end. In grainy black and white, we see men laughing, children at school, artisans manufacturing rice-paper lamps at prodigious speed, the funeral of a dignitary, friends having tea, beggars, military parades and crowds in the street. The amateur footage was shot by tourists in Shanghai during the 1930s, and was discovered in the archives of the British Film Institute by the artist, who lightly edited it to focus on scenes in which people – many of whom would now be dead – look directly at the camera and come back to life across time and space ‘like the delayed rays of a star’, as Roland Barthes wrote about photography in Camera Lucida (1980). [Frieze Magazine, March 2013)

17 May 2013


Sala Teatre
Admission fee
Free admission