Canvas: Yang Fudong’s No Snow on the Broken Bridge & Seven Intellectuals in Bamboo Forest

March 23rd 2011

Canvas: Yang Fudong: No Snow on the Broken Bridge & Seven Intellectuals in Bamboo Forest at the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation

I nearly spent the night at the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation on Friday night. After nestling into one of the juicy black beanbags and gluing my eyes to Beijing artist Yang Fudong’s eight screen video work, it was almost impossible to detach from the mesmerising, murderous, bizarre and still environments nurturing my senses.

No Snow on the Broken Bridge transports you to a monochrome reality of chilling lakes, caged cockatoos, bizarre behaviour, breathing mountains and continuous movement. A group of men dressed in long jackets with canes and a group of women dolled up in fur coats set out to discover the delights of an unknown place. Each image attracts a mysterious light and you find yourself getting tangled in luminous branches, sinking in watery reflection and silent during awkward interaction.

The unpredictable and dissonant score injects a theatrical undertone into Fudong’s reality. One image zooms in on man opening his eyes as the tip of a leaf delicately pierces the surface of his lid and then cuts to a chasing pace. Cutting between close ups of isolated faces, contrived smiles and grand shots of group poses Fudong stirs a mixture of beauty and discontent.

In many of the scenes we follow the characters running up and down mysterious stairs and in others Fudong will decapitate a shot, turning something peaceful into something pensive. As the eight screens unfold and engulf you, tension and urgency looms, and you can’t help feeling something unusual is going to happen.

No Snow on the Broken Bridge departs from known territory and enters you into a space of sensory interaction and discovery. If you travel downstairs to another room in the gallery you can further your visual and emotional roller coaster with Yang Fudong’s five house feat, titled Seven Intellectuals in Bamboo Forest. Over five parts Fudong documents a group of scholars, rebellious artists and poets in search of wisdom. The time I spent sitting there was riveting. It may have been all the sprawled naked bodies or its alluring and subtle insight into relationships, society and our changing world.

Yang Fudong’s two video works are disconcerting. They leave you feeling a little grey. Nevertheless, his aesthetic and style of communication rattles you in a unique way and is for sure worth getting comfortable for.

No Snow on the Broken Bridge and Seven Intellectuals in Bamboo Forest Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation
16–20 Goodhope Street, Paddington
Until June 4


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