The Oxidation of the Documentary – The Politics of Rust in Wang Bing’s Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks

Ramos Martinez, Manuel. 2015. The Oxidation of the Documentary – The Politics of Rust in Wang Bing’s Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks. Third Text, 29(1-2), pp. 1-13. ISSN 0952-8822 [Article]

VIS_Ramos_2015.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (191kB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

This article interrogates the audiovisual politics of Wang Bing's documentary practice by focusing on his film West of the Tracks (2003). The existing literature has unanimously celebrated West of the Tracks as the most significant example of the New Chinese Documentary Movement but it has failed to examine in depth its singular cinematic language. This article does so by understanding that the film develops a process of audiovisual oxidation that gives rise to questions concerning the capacities of the documentary image. Wang is concerned in West of the Tracks with documenting decay, but also with the capacities of the moving image to oxidise itself in order to disclose a second life or possibility for the relation between social realities and documentary images. The author argues that the singularity of Wang's inventive practice lies in a politics of rust, a politics generating fields of possibility that call into question hasty equations between what we observe and what we know.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Wang Bing, Chinese documentary film movement, Maoism, post-socialism, observational documentary film

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


8 May 2015Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

11 May 2015 16:21

Last Modified:

15 Apr 2021 11:02

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)