Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Yang Fudong, ShanghArt 3/24.

I was confused, but perhaps that was the point.

The truth is, Yang Fudong could probably care less if I didn't understand his work, as most of it is ambiguous enough to allow for audience interpretation anyway. This particular solo exhibition entitled “No Snow on the Broken Bridge” opened at ShanghArt gallery on March 24. Fudong, who is said to be a bit of an existentialist described his collective works as, "This state we're in ... a moment when we have to negotiate our past while inventing our present,” and this installation proved to be no exception.

The 8-screen video installation was almost of a minimalist style, developing ever so slowly and building upon itself as it progressed with no concrete beginning or end. The music was also quite fitting, ambient droning piano randomly punctuated by dissonant chords without any sense of resolution, perhaps mirroring the lack of clarity in the film. The three screens to the right began with images of the lake while the left three screens were all images of land. The center images were of the disillusioned characters, wandering in silence and bewilderment from screen to screen. The characters were in their 20's, the women dressed in traditional Chinese gowns while the men donned old-fashioned western style suits, suggesting a timelessness between past and present, old and new. They drift across the river and drink with contentment and yet there is always an existential emptiness and sense of confusion about their expressions. Several close up shots of the characters show them staring off blankly onto the lake. As for the two cross-dressing women who seemed to appear randomly, I had no idea.

Visually the work is stunning, often described by critics as “poetry in motion,” but the content is the indefinite. Rather than acting as a narrative, the work alludes to a feeling in a dreamlike fashion. Watching the film left me with no conclusive reaction, emotional or otherwise. Upon reading about the film after-the-fact I began to understand and even appreciate Fudong’s style but the actual experience of the art is totally lost on me


THCM said...

With regard to "No Snow on the Broken Ridge," it is interesting to me that critics call Yang Fudong's work existentialist. What Fudong has done, for better or for worse, is create emptiness -- or an environment in which we are more acutely aware of emptiness. If the suggestion is that we (or he, or his generation, or all of us) live in this emptiness, then what is perhaps lacking is any sort of suggestion as to what to do -- which is, in my opinion, what all great existentialists try to offer.
Also, another way of saying "hovering between the past and the present" could be, you know, consciousness.

Sasha said...
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Sasha said...

I agree that yang fudong himself might not be an existentialist in that he isn't making any effort to create something out of the emptiness of our lives. I will argue, however, that his artwork can be considered existential in that it focuses on that emptiness and inherent nothingness of existance and the existance of the characters in his film.

Sasha said...

Also, hovering between past and present isn't just "consciousness" unless you're taking it literally. It is a state in the present where elements of the past are also present. Like mentally living in the past and physically being in the present, only yang fudong visually represents elements of both past and present in the piece.