Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Useful Life 2010

Below and attached is a copy of my blog.


M50 Art District: “Useful Life” Exhibit
The exhibition “Useful Life” at the Shanghai Art Gallery H Space displayed the photographs, film, and sculpture pieces by the artists Yang Fudong, Yang Zhenzhong and Xu Zhen. In the large, warehouse-like space of the gallery, Yang Zhenzhong's series of photographs called Extras displayed meter tall faces of people smiling. Their faces gleam and the crows feet and creases around their mouths are accentuated by their smooth skin. The faces are all beautiful, but after looking at more than twenty photographs of lovely, smiling faces they begin to look very plastic. Similarly Yang Fudong's series of photographs, called International Hotel also uses beautiful, smiling people as subjects. The ladies in the series are all beautiful; they remind me of the Shanghai Lady posters from the 1930s. In Yang Fudong's “The Fifth Night” video installation, it is another beautiful scene shown in black and white from seven different camera angles. At first, I was pulled in by all the different shots, It was like being a security guard watching multiple screens. However, after several minutes I still wasn't sure if I understood what was going on.
The show dealt a lot with beauty, particularly beautiful people, and created an almost surreal atmosphere in the space. However, it was also, as many descriptions mention, the artists “revalidating” the exhibition from ten years ago. This exhibit certainly brings their show back to the limelight, though I am not sure how successful the exhibit is this time.

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