Deleuze, the ‘(Si)neo-realist’ Break and the Emergence of Chinese Any-now(here)-spaces

By creatively expanding Deleuze's concept of the time-image crystal, I productively fold together and engineer an encounter between two comparable cinematic movements otherwise separated by huge vistas of time and space. Here, I work to plicate the post-war Italian neorealist movement which Deleuze saw inaugurating the modern cinema, with a ‘postsocialist’ mainland Chinese movement that I playfully call ‘(si)neo-realism’. The films of both historical moments formulate comparable break-away cinemas which are often considered moral or socially responsible art cinemas best approached through André Bazin's ‘ontological’ film philosophy lens. By using Deleuze, however, I hope to move beyond these realist discussions to explore how both movements are also fruitfully thought in terms of introducing distinct yet analogous mental relations into the image during historical junctures defined by radically transforming psycho-geographies. Like Deleuze's discussions of neorealism, (si)neo-realism is considered a loose impulse or mode that collectively bears witness to confusing and bewildering mental experiences from within a turbulent period of cultural, ideological and historical upheaval: which demands new ways of perceiving, thinking and acting. Without wanting to fall into a problematic auteur paradigm, I necessarily employ the films of Wang Xiaoshuai as emblematic examples of the wider impulse or trend. Indeed, Wang's films perfectly reify a new ethico-aesthetic form of Chinese cinema marked by a proliferation of new spaces, characters, experiences and narrative structures. Here, I also strive to do what Deleuze did not in his writing upon film, and explore the break-ups, breakdowns and breakthroughs in specific relation to a complex contextual web of political and cinematic ecosystems. Throughout this process I try to put Deleuze to work by using the films and context to re-interrogate and re-evaluate the time-image models as they appear within and across his Cinema books.

Author Name: 
Fleming, David H.
Journal: 
Deleuze Studies
Citation: 
David H. Fleming, Deleuze, the ‘(Si)neo-realist’ Break and the Emergence of Chinese Any-now(here)-spaces, Deleuze Studies. 8 : 4, pp. 509-541