My National

My National

Five minutes with: Yang Fudong

  |  December 11, 2013

Zhulinqixian Part 4 - a still from Yang Fudong's film
Zhulinqixian Part 4 - a still from Yang Fudong's film

Yang Fudong, one of China's most prominent cinematographers and photographers has had his first black and white film, An Estranged Paradise accepted into the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi permanent collection. We caught up with him while he was at Abu Dhabi Art in November.

Q: Please tell us about the film? What was your inspiration?

A: The film was made in 1997, using 35mm film and it is 76 minutes long. It is kind of autobiographical about my time in school in Hangzhou. People know this city as a paradise city, and for me the four years there was like indeed like a paradise. However, when I graduated and had to go into the real world it exciting and new world but at the same time it was very different to being a student and that is how the title of the film came about.

Q: Is it a documentary then?

A: Well, no not really. It is artistic.

Q: Can you tell us why you are drawn to the medium of film?

A: For me there is no difference between any artistic media. For me, making a film is the same as doing a painting or a drawing, it is just a different medium for representation. I use black and white to represent the passing of time and to give a distance between me and the subject and I love using film because to create film is all about chemistry. In that way, it is very much alive.

Q: How does Estranged Paradise relate to your oeuvre as a whole?

A: It was my first film and so, I see it like my first child. It gave me confidence and allowed me to believe in myself and set the way for the rest of the work that I have done since.

Q: Are you trying to make a comment on the nature of our society with the film?

A: This film is about young people, when they graduate and the big ambitions that they have. But then, on the way, they meet stumbling blocks and have to rethink their goals or change the way society is. More often than not, people choose to adapt themselves rather than take on society.

Q: How do you feel to have your work accepted into the Guggenheim’s permanent collection?

A: I’m just very happy and thankful and of course, I am proud.

Q: Have you had your work exhibited in the Middle East before?

A: Yes, I was at the Sharjah Biennial in March with a multi-video installation of 16 videos called Push the door softly and walk in, or just stay standing where you are. I shot it over 20 days in November and I found the people to be very warm and friendly.