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Close to the Sea

Introduction 2012

Close to the Sea 2004
10 channel video installation  23′

In this ten-channel video installation, a concert is being staged at the seaside. Accompanied by various musical instruments, the love story of a young couple is unfolded on the same location. The videos set on the centre display two scenarios taking place simultaneously: one shows a young couple riding a horse along the sea and the other a pair of lovers struggling for survival from a ship accident. The other eight screens deliver at the same time the performance of diverse instruments, a trumpet and a cello played on the rocks, for example. The background music, which is hallucinatory, dreamlike and even uncoordinated, reflects the conflicts between ideals and reality. The young lovers, despite the threat of death, continue with their discussion of ideal, faith and anticipation.

Below is taken from 'The Guardian', Tuesday 21 September 2004 10.56 BST UK reported by Adrian Searle (

There is only one truly major work in this biennial. Yang Fudong's magnificent, multi-screen video installation at Fact (Liverpool's Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) is a tour de force. Around the walls are projected a small ensemble of musicians, each standing on rocks at the edge of a sea. On trumpets, trombones, strings and keyboard, they perform a beautiful, plaintive composition by Jing Wang, while on the double screen in the centre of the gallery two people, shot in colour and in black and white, act out a love affair. On either side of the screen, we flip from past to present, on the same beach, in the same roiling sea. The work seems to be about presence and escape. There's a white horse here, too, a shipwrecked raft, a sense that neither will leave the beach.Yang is from Shanghai, and Close to the Sea references Chinese films from the 1920s and 30s.  Totally engaging, mysterious and full of memorable images and music, this moved me. Sometimes atmosphere counts more than narrative.

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