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luís soares

Blog do escritor Luís Soares

Yang Fudong








Born in 1971 in Beijing, Yang Fudong received a BFA in oil painting from the China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, in 1995 but pursued his artistic career in filmmaking and photography. Influenced by a wide range of visual references and formal considerations, Yang often stages contradictions between present social conditions, classical Chinese cultural tropes, and modern film culture to explore broader historical, social, and political themes. Featuring fragmented, overlapping, and abstract storylines, his film style is notable for its long suspended sequences and frequent use of black-and-white.

Yang’s first feature, An Estranged Paradise (1997–2002), depicts the journey of a reticent young intellectual, Zhuzi, who suffers from an undiagnosed malaise. The film follows the disconsolate protagonist as he wanders the streets and parks of a rapidly modernizing Hangzhou, trying to make meaning of an environment from which he feels estranged. His psychological displacement conveys the sense of an individual unmoored by sweeping social change.

Starting in 2003, Yang embarked on his most epic and celebrated work, the five-part opus Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest (2003–07)He produced one film per year, and the pentalogy, which explores dissonances between real and ideal worlds, was featured at the 2007 Venice Biennale. The title references a famous story about third-century Daoist sages, who were revered for their sharp political commentary and uninhibited hedonism. Yang retells this tale in a contemporary setting, and the film series follows a group of stylish young literati who similarly shun the complexities of urban life and retreat to the countryside. However, a simpler life proves too difficult, only adding to their psychological and moral confusion. Like several subsequent works, his films and videos are dreamlike, atemporal, and visually beautiful.

Yang has had solo exhibitions at Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2005); National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (2010); Kunsthalle Zürich, Zurich (2013); and Yuz Museum, Shanghai (2015), among others. His work has been exhibited in group shows such as Fruits de la passion, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2012–13); Bentu: Chinese Artists in a Time of Turbulence and Transformation, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (2016); What About the Art? Contemporary Art from China, Qatar Museums Gallery Al Riwaq, Doha (2016); and Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World, Guggenheim Museum (2017–18, traveled to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao [2018] and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art [2018–19]). It has also appeared in Documenta, Kassel, Germany (2002); Liverpool Biennial (2004); Venice Biennale (2003 and 2007); Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane (2007); Guangzhou Triennial (2008); Performa, New York (2009); Shanghai Biennial (2010); and Sharjah Biennial, United Arab Emirates (2013). A finalist for the 2004 Hugo Boss Prize, Yang lives and works in Shanghai.

Lu Guang






Development and Pollution by Lu Guang, commissioned by Greenpeace International.

Wuhai Chemical Plant produces PVC products that create lots of poisonous waste material and sewage, which gets dumped along the coast of the Yellow River. China is now the world’s second-largest economy. Its economic development has consumed lots of energy and generated plenty of pollution. A habit of directly discharging unprocessed industrial sewage, exhaust gas and waste material has led to pollution of farmlands, grasslands, and drinking water as well as the ocean and the air. Over the past 10 years, factories have been moved from the country’s east to its central and western parts, thus greatly expanding the polluted area and increasing the severity of the situation. Although the environmental protection administration has shut down many small enterprises with serious pollution emission, some still continue to discharge contaminants illegally. Some have adopted covert operations, such as releasing the smoke and gas waste at night. The sewage channel is embedded into the river and ocean for discharging pollution. Western factories have large evaporation ponds to store sewage, but the sewage sinks into the ground, thus polluting the water source. Minerals, such as coal and iron, are expanded to large-scale predatory strip mine exploitation from the original underground mining. Grassland has been turned into desert. Fertile farmland has given way to barren mountains. Herdsmen no longer have grassland. Farmers have lost their farms, their own homelands destroyed, thus causing the villagers to become displaced. Winds carry the exposed coal dust and sand, causing smog. Smog, in turn, forces middle and primary schools to close. Flights get delayed. The highway gets shut down. The number of hospital patients with respiratory disease goes up. Food and drinking water is polluted, which leads to cancer, so common China has seen the emergence of ‘cancer villages’. China’s environmental pollution has already exerted great threats to people’s life and security.


From the British Journal of Photography:

The respected photographer has been missing since early November, but the Chinese police have apparently now confirmed that he's been arrested - without detailing why.

Xu Lizhi - Heart Buried by Life

continue to bear it?
eyelids heavy as mountains
his head tries lifting in the night
tear-drenched starlight gushes down
with wind, his frail body always about to shake
moments of youth flee in annoyance
leaving behind a snowstorm, a turbulent tumult
in dreams, the flames he tastes are ice cold
and his ground-off skin a bed of cotton bolls
spread out in the winds of time
intrinsic beliefs unable to find direction
like his heart buried deeper than
the depths of the ocean by life


December 15, 2011


(Translated by Lucas Klein)







Xu Lizhi - I speak of blood

On 30 September 2014, Xu Lizhi, a young worker at the Foxconn factory complex in Shenzhen, took his own life. Xu was just 24-years-old but had already produced a remarkable body of literary work, including poems, essays, film reviews and commentaries on current events. In his brief two-year tenure as a production line worker at Foxconn, Xu published more than 30 articles in the in-house magazine 'Foxconn People'.

I speak of blood, because I can’t help it
I’d love to talk about flowers in the breeze and the moon in the snow
I’d love to talk about imperial history, about poems in wine
But this reality only lets me speak of blood
blood from a rented room the size of a matchbox
narrow, cramped, with no sight of the sun all year
extruding working guys and girls
stray women in long-distance marriages
sichuan chaps selling mala tang
old ladies from henan manning stands
and me with eyes open all night to write a poem
after running about all day to make a living
I tell you about these people, about us
ants struggling through the swamp of life
drops of blood on the way to work
blood chased by cops or smashed by the machine
by casting off insomnia, disease, downsizes, suicide
each explosive word
in the pearl river delta, in the pit of the stomach of the country
eviscerated by an order slip slicing like a kaishaku blade
I tell you these things
even as I go mute, even as my tongue cracks
to tear open the silence of the age
to speak of blood, of the sky crumbling
I speak of blood, my mouth all crimson


September 17, 2013


(translated by Lucas Klein)







Xu Lizhi - I swallowed an iron moon

I swallowed an iron moon
they called it a screw


I swallowed industrial wastewater and unemployment forms
bent over machines, our youth died young


I swallowed labor, I swallowed poverty
swallowed pedestrian bridges, swallowed this rusted-out life


I can’t swallow any more
everything I’ve swallowed roils up in my throat


I spread across my country
a poem of shame


(translated by Eleanor Goodman)

Welcome to 1984.

China has gamified being an obedient citizen with the creation of Sesame Credit. The game links to your social network and gives you a score for doing things that the government approves of, but it also reduces that score for doing things the government disapproves of. Even your friends' scores affect your own, and being friends with people who have a low score will drag your score down as well. This insidious system applies social pressure on people to ostracize their friends with lower scores, either forcing those friends to change their ways or effectively quarantining their rebellious ideas. While many sci-fi visions of a dystopian future have centered around a bleak government that controls through fear, Sesame Credit shows us that a government can use gamification and positive reinforcement to be just as controlling. And it's real. While currently the system is opt-in, the government plans to make it mandatory in 2020. Once mandatory, it may give rewards for good scores or penalties for bad ones. And in the meantime, making it opt-in has already set the tone for the game: people participate willingly, so they find it fun, and they set a very high standard for what the "average" score should be. Already people have begun sharing their scores on social media.

A China já não é o que era.

Quem me conhece sabe a minha opinião sobre a série de filmes Transformers. Sim, é uma implicação pessoal mas também, parece-me, os filmes são um bom símbolo de tudo o que há de errado com Hollywood neste momento. O quarto filme da série que se prepara tem algumas novidades... como direi? Interessantes.

A China tornou-se, como seria de esperar, um dos mais importantes mercados para a produção americana de cinema. Era óbvio que ia acontecer. A coisa, contudo, não tem estado a correr muito bem. Diz o New York Times:

Hollywood’s global business strategy, which counts on huge ticket sales in China for high-budget fantasies in 3-D and large-screen Imax formats, is coming unhinged. (...) In the first quarter this year, ticket sales for American movies in China — including films as prominent as “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and “Skyfall” — fell 65 percent, to about $200 million, while sales for Chinese-language films rose 128 percent, to well over $500 million, according to the online publication

Não é só uma questão de gosto do público, há algum protecionismo, claro. A coisa resolve-se, claro. Como? Co-produzindo os ditos blockbusters com empresas chinesas, nomeadamente com a todo-poderosa televisão estatal chinesa. No fim, no fim, é uma questão de dinheiro. É precisamente isso que a Paramount está a fazer em relação a Transformers 4, como noticia aqui o Los Angeles Times.

Como co-produzir não chega, noticiam nos últimos dias centenas de sites (entre eles o ComingSoon e a Agência Noticiosa Estatal Chinesa) que foi lançado um reality show para encontrar atores para desempenhar quatro papéis em língua chinesa no filme. Passo a citar:

Four people will win roles through the "Transformers 4 Chinese Actors Talent Search Reality Show," which will be open to professionals and amateur actors. The four roles have respective descriptions of Kung Fu fighter, sexy lady, computer geek, and cute Loli. The contestants must be over 18-year-old and be able to speak English, it was announced.

Esperam-se 50.000 a 80.000 participações. Nada como ver para crer e o site que sustenta este concurso vale bem a pena uma espreitadela.