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Daydreams of Youth Unfold

Author: Wang Jie 2007-03-26

Eight huge video screens pour black-and-white images of youth iding away the time at the Yellow Mountain - they're like Chinese scrolls of the 1920s. What's the message? writes Wang Jie.

It's unusual for a solo exhibition to have only one work, unless the artist has great influence of his work is one of great power.

Four of five years ago, video artist Yang Fudong might not have had the courage to try this, but today his situation is quite different: The former unknown video artist is turning into a"big shot" on the contemporary art scene.So why not test convention?

"No Snow on the Broken Bridge"is an ambitious eight-minute black-and-white presentation on eight huge video screens, created in 2006.It is unveiled to the public for the first time at ShanghART Gallery.

The unique visual effect is similar to that of Chinese traditional scroll painting. The moving black-and-white images on the eight screens are different but there might be some link between adjacent screens.

Like his other films, the black-and-white film finds a fine balance between classical Chinese brush-and-ink painting and Shanghai cinema of the 1920s.

As in his other films, Yang portrays young people who seem confused and appear to hover between the past and present.The location is the Yellow Mountain in Anhui Province where the young people seem to be idling.

The characters of these young people are stamped with a mixture of tradition and rebellion, of bewilderment and insight. This might explain why he left Beijing at first and then gave up a well-park advertising position in Shanghai.

"I am not a person with plans," he says. "Sometimes ever I question how can I survive without plans in today's fast-paced society."

Starting in the late 1990s, Yang embarked on a career in film and video. His productions of"City Light," "Seven Intellectuals," "Liu Lan"and "Utopia Station"made his name on the international arts stage.

Yang says he was greatly influenced by the most successful and influential young Chinese artists today," says Helen Zhu from ShanghART. "Some Westerners think the tableau and the characters in his films are very Chinese."

Yang participated in the 50th Venice Biennale (2003), First Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2005) and the Fifth Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (2006).

"I feel I am a stranger in this city," he says. " I belive many share the same insecurity. But ironically this is a cosmopolitan city that fulfills some of their dreams."

Yang's films ask many questions, yet without providing a certain or hackneyed answer. Thus his work is open-ended and inconclusive, open to individual interpretation.

"The younger generation seems to lose their target in life," he explains. "What I am trying to do is not give my own judgment but to find what they have lost through my artworks."

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No Snow on the Broken Bridge


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