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Push the Door Softly and Walk in, Or Just Stay Standing Where You Are
Solo Exhibition Fosun Foundation, Shanghai
Date: 06.22, 2019 - 08.18, 2019

Artists: YANG Fudong 杨福东

It is so real
A remote and intimate world

In the dry hot air
Someone sings in a soft tone
But it
Stands there quietly
Letting the wind
Take away its past

Things resemble each other
Like in a dream
Push the door softly and walk in
Or just stay standing where you are

(text by Yang Fudong for Push the Door Softly and Walk in, Or Just Stay Standing Where You Are)

Commissioned by the 11th Sharjah Biennial (2013), this work of Yang Fudong incorporates 16 channels, among which 8 are for Granada (color), the other 8 for Sharjah (monochrome). Themed as re-drawing cultural cartography, the biennial looks at the globalization that started from the 8th to the 18th Century which connected China to Arabian Peninsula—instead of the globalization initiated in the 20th Century from the West—in which there are multiple cultural centers and each of them are constantly re-drawing the map. For the port city Sharjah which is described as “a place of hospitality" in the book of Ibn Battutah, the curatorial concept comes out as "courtyard", which is commonly observed in China, India, the Arab area, the Mediterranean coast, etc., and serves especially in the Arab area as the place of encounter for the public and the private, welcoming foreign guests to come and learn about it. To respond to that hospitality, the guests must come with respect, as well as each of their own knowledge and understanding to share and exchange. The idea of this work is to examine the various types of public space.

For Fudong, this is the first time that he makes film abroad, with his entire oeuvre so far created in China. He is asked to go overseas to perceive and interpret the local cultures, of course with full respect. The location Granada was chosen due to the fact that it has been the frontier of clash between the Arab area and Europe, as well as the Alhambra Palace there which is a symbol of cultural integration. What’s significant for Alhambra is not just the palace, but also the hydraulic system channeling meltwater from the Sierra Nevada Mountains all the way to the palace, of which the advanced irrigation system has nurtured a robust ecosystem with diversified flora including various kinds of herbs. To construct such an ecosystem, it benefited a lot from the experience and wisdom of the Arabs, which is example of the contribution of the foreign guest's knowledge to the local. In the very beginning, I suggested the local history of Alhambra’s water-centered ecology as the commission work’s theme to Fudong. As a result, he captured the entire city landscape of Granada and the day-to-day, casual portraits of the people who live there. There embeds the very meaning of "public" space.

The videos on display at Fosun Foundation are the 8 films made in Sharjah, each being a mini film with its unique cinematography, so that the audience can freely enjoy either one of them or the entire group as a whole. The combination of photographs and stills of moving images embodies Fudong’s early career as a painter, as well as the aesthetics of the composition constructed bit by bit and the extraordinary poetics. Throughout the videos echoing the engines, waves, and the noise of the streets indistinctly as if whispering as time slowly goes on.

Shooting at the eye level, the cameras portrait the upper body of individuals among a mixture of different ethnic groups living and thriving in the slow flow of time. Most of them are men, praying, fishing, enjoying cricket, or cooling themselves in the street corners… Whereas the beautiful eyes of women behind the vails are captured, and the wind playing with their eyelashes. It is the wind that suggests the movement of space—the slight wind that gently shakes the leaves on the trees, loosens waves and sand. A verse in Fudong's poem reads as follows:

Stands there quietly
Letting the wind
Take away its past

Sharjah is a small port city but with great hospitality, here it vividly connects to one of the lines of what Ibn Battutah wrote in the 14th Century.

Push the door softly and walk in

Fudong played a wonderful role as a guest. Through his sense and sensibility, he presented such a work that has gave the place Sharjah new stories and meanings as a gift to his host city.

Text by Yuko Hasegawa(curator, art historian)

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