“I really like showing [an atmosphere] with a strange, disturbing aspect, exactly like in a dream.”
Born Beijing, 1971
Best known as a filmmaker, Yang Fudong conceives photography too in narrative terms. Set in high-rise apartments, office buildings and cloistered courtyards, his photographs tell the stories of alienated urban dwellers, from intellectuals to clerks to prostitutes. Though the images resemble frames in a movie, the action and outcomes are never clear-cut. Instead the artist proceeds by hints and allusions, seeking to reflect the vague but undeniable power of inchoate feelings. His series Miss Huang at M Last Night (2006) imagines a woman enjoying the trophies of modern success—an evening at Shanghai’s top nightclub, designer clothes, fine wine, a covey of attentive men. As the night goes on and her admirers press in closer, Miss Huang’s sly, knowing expression suggests that she has done all this before. But is she really in control? Like the composition of the individual photographs, the series conveys a persistent tension: will the lady win, or will her courtiers?