LI ZHENHUA Your work explores urbanized existence through film and photography. 1999 seemed to be a transition period for you. During this time you gradually moved away from the spirituality and individual experiences from your early performances.
YANG FUDONG The photo series in Shanghai was mainly about life’s transitions; after I graduated from university in 1995 I returned to Beijing. In 1997 I made my first film, An Estranged Paradise, which was completed in 2002 and premiered at Documenta 11). I had to move to Shanghai for economic reasons. At that moment, life’s realities reminded me that I couldn’t create every minute and every moment; I had to exist, to live. When I didn’t have means to shoot a film, I just shot photos. This was not creating for the sake of itself, but to show the idea that could be completed by the image. The Evergreen Nature of Romantic Stories (1999) and Don’t worry, It will be better… (2000) are about young people’s choices and concerns. They were derived from the subtle interweaving feeling between the everyday and work. Just like the unknowable aspects of “youth” that were explored in Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest, the sense of young men and women having dreams and expectations was something I hoped to show in these photos. The three month duration of the performance Other Where or Stranger’s Plan taught me to believe, it supported me in moving forward. In The Evergreen Nature of Romantic Stories (1999), both the beautiful (unreal) bonsai and the young man and woman observing it intensely, have an artificial longing and beauty to them. The Don’t worry, It will be better… (2000) series is also about life’s longings and expectations; sentiments are created through the boys’ and girls’ movements in the room and their gaze out of the window. Like when you go to a friend’s place, and you pace around and look out of the window in a moment of boredom, it might be due to some inexplicable anticipation and emotional disturbance. Some friends have said that they think these works are like an advertisement for these emotions. I don’t agree, it resembles meditation more. It’s an experience where the inner longings are very close to your eyes. It exists, but is blurry; similar to people in everyday life focusing on what’s in the distance, but not what lies in front of them.