An Opera for Animals was first staged at Para Site in Hong Kong between 23 March and 2 June 2019, with works by over 48 artists and collectives that use opera as a metaphor for modes of contemporary, cross-disciplinary art-making. The exhibition's second iteration takes up a large portion of the Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) in Shanghai (22 June–25...
For three months from 1 June to 1 September 2019, Tai Kwun Contemporary in Hong Kong showcases MURAKAMI vs MURAKAMI, a major survey exhibition of the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. Curated by Tobias Berger, head of art at Tai Kwun, and Gunnar B Kvaran, director of Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, the exhibition spans the three floors of Tai Kwun's...
Get Up Stand Up Now: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers at Somerset House in London (12 June–15 September 2019) surveys more than half a century of black creativity in Britain and beyond across the fields of art, film, photography, music, design, fashion, and literature.Curated by Zak Ové, works by approximately 100 intergenerational black...
Exhibition view: Yang Fudong, Beyond GOD and Evil – Preface, Marian Goodman Gallery, London (30 May–26 July 2019). Courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery. Photo: Thierry Bal.
Entering Marian Goodman Gallery's London space to view Yang Fudong's solo exhibition, I was stopped short by a wire mesh fence erected just beyond the front desk, barring the way to the exhibition. Somewhat discombobulated, I asked the receptionist, 'Is the show open?' It was; visitors were to walk through a gate set in the fence, and heavy black curtains.
Yang Fudong's natural talent in drawing led him to train as a painter and he graduated from the Oil Painting department of the China Academy of Art in 1995. However, it is film and photography that he is now best known for. Through often lateral, fragmented and surreal means, Yang presents different ways of being in the complex socio-political landscape of his nation, often centring his concerns in the conflict between tradition and modernity.
Yang first rose to prominence in the art world in 2000 following the controversy surrounding his photographic triptych The First Intellectual (2000). The work was removed from the exhibition Uncooperative Approach (Fuck Off)—curated by Ai Weiwei and Feng Boyi—by the Cultural Inspection Bureau, who considered the images inappropriate. The First Intellectual depicts three images of a dishevelled businessman standing in the middle of a city road, briefcase in one hand, brick in the other, blood pouring from his head onto his white shirt. In the centre image the briefcase has left his hand and papers are flying through the air. These images became the seed of Yang's five-part film Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest (2003-2007), which was mostly shot in Shanghai but presented both rural and urban settings. The film focuses on seven idealistic youths who act on feeling. It references the legendary Seven Sages—a group of third-century Chinese Daoist intellectuals who rejected the morally corrupt government and the normal lives that were being forced upon them. They instead chose to live a life full of music, poetry, alcohol and qingtan (pure conversation).
Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest reflects Yang's interest in breaking away from mainstream cinematic dogma. The film does not emphasise narrative but instead focuses on long sequences with sparse dialogue. The near-static composition of the filmic picture plane is perhaps influenced by Yang's experience as a painter. This strategy is also visible in Yang's The Fifth Night (2010), shot on a film set at the Shanghai Film Shooting Base. The film is designed to be projected onto seven screens that sit side by side, revealing events like a scroll gradually unfurled. Like Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest, it follows seven young people, mixing and overlapping perspectives and time continuities. While painterly in its consideration of the picture plane, The Fifth Night is also sculptural; it is part of his group of 'space' films that relate to the presentation of video in three-dimensional space.
In an interview with Ocula in 2015, Yang said of The Fifth Night, 'if the eyes of the audience are focused on the third screen, they'll still be able to take a glimpse of the changes on other screens out of the corners of their eyes. ... Through their eyes, the space films are edited and would become unique to them'. In The Fifth Night, Yang presents what could be interpreted as separate instances but are actually tied together. This is also true of the way the screens themselves must be viewed. In this skewing of perspective, Yang reveals the controlled and selective vision of cinema, and also the woozy instability of reality.
Through his films, Yang ponders what can truly be defined as 'real', and opens up the possibility that the performance of reality comes closer to reality than daily life. In this line of inquiry, the boundaries between myth and memory, as well as idealisation and actuality, begin to blur. In fact, Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest and The Fifth Night present and blur many dichotomies—man/woman, individual/collective, past/present—and in doing so emphasise the individual identity of each side while simultaneously allowing the pairs to flow freely towards and away from each other. By this method, Yang destabilises definition and allows the viewer greater autonomy in their understanding of the ideologies they have been fed both within and outside of cinema.
Marian Goodman Gallery London is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by Yang Fudong, the first with the artist in the London gallery. This exhibition marks the international premiere of his epic project 'Dawn Breaking'. This is Yang Fudong's first London exhibition since 2011.
Presented in the ground floor gallery space 'Dawn Breaking' is the opening chapter of Yang Fudong's larger Museum Film Project, originally conceived whilst working on his solo exhibition in Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea in 2005. Filmed live in Shanghai in the Long Museum, 'Dawn Breaking' represents an interpretation of life lived during the Song Dynasty, which was prominent for achievements in art, culture and science. For several weeks, the artist led the crew of actors and production team to carry out epic durational performances across two main filming locations within the museum, inviting the general public to view and spontaneously participate in the filming process. The experience creates a simultaneity of art-making and art-viewing, subverting the traditional expectations of the exhibition experience. For the Marian Goodman Gallery exhibition, the weeks long filming process is edited into over 30 'diaries', shown across over 30 monitors, flat screens and as projections flowing through the exhibition, creating an immersive video installation.
Since the late 1990s, Yang Fudong has developed a body of work of films, video installations and photographs. Among his most acclaimed works are An Estranged Paradise (1997-2002) his first film, the series of five black-and-white 35 mm films 'Seven Intellectuals in Bamboo Forest' (2003-2007) and The Fifth Night, an eight-channel film installation. Yang Fudong favours multi-screen projections which allow him to create works that surround the viewer, who in turn becomes like a second film director. Yang's visual language has always been enveloped in a dream-like mystery. His characters, often silent and disembodied, usually move according to choreographed gestures and manage to transport the viewer into an aesthetically perfect environment. His work deliberately plays, suspends and confuses time.
Yang Fudong was born in Beijing in 1971. Considered one of China's most important contemporary artists, Yang Fudong studied painting at the Academy of Fine Art in Hangzhou. He now lives and works in Shanghai. His work has been exhibited in China in the most important avant-garde exhibitions in the late 1990s and has exhibited widely internationally, including solo presentations in major institutions such as Parasol Unit, London (2011); National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (2010); Asia Society, New York (2009); Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2005); Castello di Rivoli, Torino (2005); Renaissance Society, Chicago (2004). The artist has also participated in prestigious international art events including: Sharjah Biennial, UAE (2013); Venice Biennale, Italy (2003 and 2007); The Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Australia (2006); Documenta XI, Germany (2002). In 2013, Kunsthalle Zurich and Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive co-organized his retrospective exhibition, Estranged Paradise. Filmscapes originated at ACMI, Melbourne (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) in 2015 and traveled to Auckland Art Gallery in 2016. In 2017, Espace Louis Vuitton, Tokyo, Japan exhibited The Coloured Sky: New Women II. The Long Museum West Bund, Shanghai, hosted Yang Fudong's major film experience Dawn Breaking, A Museum Film Project, in 2018.
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