Tate Modern Film

Wang Bing: West of the Tracks

Wang Bing West of the Tracks 2003, film still. Courtesy the artist

See the artist’s monumental testament to industrial decline, and to the workers left to survive amongst its ruins

Wang Bing’s epic nine-hour film is a powerful, and masterfully-composed record of the fall-out of China’s transition from state-run industry to a free market at the turn of the millennium. Shot between 1999 and 2001, the film observes the lives of the last factory workers of the Tie Xi industrial district in the city of Shenyang, in northeast China, once the epitome of a booming socialist economy. Structured into three parts, the film gradually shifts focus from the decaying factories to the loss of homes and social support to a father and son struggling to survive.

Part 1, Rust, takes us into the dense fog of the run-down factories where the few remaining workers can be heard discussing unpaid wages, disappearing pensions and inevitable layoffs on their breaks, while others receive treatment for lead poisoning. Part 2, Remnants, focuses on a group of teenagers – their hopes, fears, joys and survival strategies – as their community faces imminent demolition. Part 3, Rails, witnesses the resourcefulness and dedication of a father and son who survive off scraps of coal stolen from freight trains headed to the factories.

Wang Bing West of the Tracks, film still

Wang Bing West of the Tracks 2003, film still. Courtesy the artist


12.10 Rust, 2003, DCP, colour, sound, 240 min, Mandarin with English subtitles

16.25 Remnants, 2003, DCP, colour, sound, 176 min, Mandarin with English subtitles

19.40 Rails, 2003, DCP, colour, sound, 135 min, Mandarin with English subtitles

The Wang Bing: Traces series is programmed in parallel with the UK premiere of Dead Souls at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, 27-28 November 2018.

Tate Modern

Starr Cinema

London SE1 9TG
Plan your visit

Date & Time

24 November 2018 at 12.00–22.15