When I saw Yang Fudong recently at the twin fairs in Shanghai, West Bund Art and Photo Shanghai, he was in great shape after having lost weight. He seemed to be rejuvenated. His large print shown at Photo Shanghai entitled The Light That I Feel, is surprisingly full of light, as opposed to his photographs of the interior of the art deco swimming pool of the Park Hotel in Shanghai, shot with flash. He has already said that he tries to create a cinematographic narrative in his photographs. The Light was photographed entirely in Norway in the country, in the open air, during the summer of 2014, on the island of Sandhornøya. Yang Fudong, himself a director of dreamlike short films, says that he was inspired by Ingmar Bergman. And there he had the opportunity to direct western actors and dancers, Norwegians. The film was edited and post-produced in the studio of the Nordland College of Art and Film in Kabelvåg.
During the summer of 2015, The Light That I Feel was projected on eight screens as part of the SALT Festival. In fact, the SALT Festival has taken place in that very isolated place, practically inside the Arctic Circle, in Norway’s far north, since 2014. It is an art festival the like of which doesn’t exist in any other part of the world and it runs throughout the year, it includes art exhibitions, contemporary music concerts and architectural installations.
Yang Fudong produces hypnotic films without words, pure poetry without a framework, leaving the narrative to the wind and nature. His images, of dazzling beauty, of Greco-Roman classicism, and yet of a striking modernity, remind us of the warmth and sensuality emanating from the iconic photo by George Hoyningen-Huene, when he immortalised Horst P. Horst in swimming trunks in the summer of 1931.
There is something else in the air, like the sound of an Indian sitar, which reminds us and makes us savour the remembered taste of a shared wine on the night of a platonic encounter with a young dream-girl described by John Lennon in “Norwegian Wood”.
As Yang Fudong likes to say about his work, “It’s a sensation of yesterday, but in fact it’s tomorrow”, which means nostalgia for a future world of light, poetry and peace.