United Until Tomorrow

Ho Rui An

04 jun. 2024 • 1 min

United Until Tomorrow (1951) is based on real-life events that took place at Shanghai’s Shenxin No. 9 Cotton Mill, where workers led a factory-wide strike in 1948 to protest salary arrears against the background of escalating inflation. Shot at the original location of the strike, the film shows the entrance of the cotton mill transformed into a literal and ideological battlefield where workers gain class consciousness and fight to reclaim their rightful place as owners of the factory. In one climactic scene, the workers even seal the factory gate from the outside to prevent the products of their labour from being expropriated by Kuomintang forces.

Located at No. 128, Aomen Road, Shanghai, Shenxin No. 9 Cotton Mill belonged to the system of mills managed by Shenxin Textile Company, a private enterprise founded in 1915 by Wuxi-bred, industrialist brothers Rong Zongjing and Rong Desheng. Following the Communist takeover of Shanghai, the cotton mill was nationalised in the 1950s and placed under the management of the Shanghai Textile Industry Bureau. With the subsequent launch of the economic reforms, the bureau was restructured into a holding company in 1998 amidst the deindustrialisation of the city. While many iconic buildings in the Shanghai Bund area today can be seen in the film, little remains of the original architecture of No. 9 Cotton Mill, where the Shanghai Textile Museum is now located.

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Ho Rui An is an artist and writer working in the intersections of contemporary art, cinema, performance and theory. Through lectures, essays and films, his research examines the relations between labour, technology and capital across different systems of governance in a global age.

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