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WWYD? In Conversation with Yang Fudong

WW..D? Is an interview segment where we get to know awesome people that are a part of the creative community in New Zealand.

This we spoke with Yang Fudong who is one of the worlds preeminent moving image artists working out of Shanghai, China. Filmscapes currently on exhibition at The Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki includes three works and is Yang’s first survey exhibition in New Zealand. Read more for what would Yang do?

People often put the words ‘important’, ‘influential’ and ‘pre-eminent’ before your name, but how would you describe your own work?

I don’t have much concern about how people view my work, or how they look at me. To experience the life as an artist through creating genuine and original work is the main focus of mine.

 In the Pacific the idea of the ocean and oceania is very important. Theorists like Epeli Hau’ofa believe that the Pacific Ocean is a moving mass connecting hundreds of islands rather than a sea separating them. I know in the past you have also spoken about a metaphor of the ocean, could you elaborate on this?

Art is comparable to the ocean. It can be peaceful and benevolent, and at the same time passionate and dynamic. Sometimes it has a pinch of mystery as well.

It seems appropriate that when considering a coloured sky you would work in colour film. But what has thinking in colour added to The Coloured Sky: New Women II?

Coloured Sky: New Women II represented my childhood, which was dreamy and fantastical, it was so colourful that it almost felt like a cellophane candy wrapper under the sun. To my understanding, colourfulness means purity, it represents a lifestyle that is simplistic and uncontaminated.

What is also great about this work is the incorporation of installation on set. The use of objects, colour and narrative incorporates a very strong painterly quality. Are you concerned with a mixed media approach to film making?

It was beach scenery, the colours and landscape look convincible and yet they were created in a film studio. I like to construct reality with imagination, create tangibility with ethereality, and play with saturations and hues of colours.

The commission of The Coloured Sky: New Women II by the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) marks your first survey exhibition in both Australia and New Zealand. Has making a work specifically for this part of world changed your thinking?

Quite the opposite, I gained more certainty about my thoughts and practices through the supports and encouragements from both Auckland Art Gallery and ACMI.

I’m really interested in how your practice will sit in New Zealand with such a large Chinese diaspora, do you think your exploration of a modern day Chinese experience will reflect experiences our local diaspora communities?

I am extremely privileged to hold the exhibition in Auckland Art Gallery and communicate with a broad range of audience. There’s no boundary in art, art is not exclusive to any specific group of people.

I have one last question, what words of advice would you give to a young Yang Fundong?

Trust themselves and be themselves.

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