“I am one of those artists who are more concerned with their own feelings and imagination.”
Born 1987, Yichun, Jiangxi. Lives and works in Hangzhou
That Yi Lian’s videos reflect inner visions is not surprising: afflicted with macular degeneration in his twenties, he is slowly going blind. His lush, colour-saturated videos eschew the ups and downs of conventional narrative and instead derive their energy from the tensions between real and surreal. In Undercurrent (2012), a sleepwalking boy, played by the artist’s nephew, who suffers from somnambulism, wanders in the dark by the riverside. Oblivious to ducks, tortoises and frogs, he also fails to see—or perhaps sees in his dream—a series of shirtless men, also sleepwalking, who stumble into the black water and drown. The eerie video gives equal validity and value to the natural world and the world of the unconscious, which for the psychoanalyst Carl Jung was “pure nature”.