World Chambers

A Forum for the Arts of Contemporary Chinese Women

Female artists featured in Prestel’s 2009 text, Young Chinese Artists: The Next Generation — Part V: Liang Yue

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Born in 1979 Shanghai, Liang Yue, captures interactions between herself and the urban centers of China’s economic growth. Noe et al. describe the city as,

a presence in much of her work, both as antagonist and accomplice (Noe, Piëch, Steiner, 143).

The dust storms that blanket Beijing in an orange dust during March and April change her partner in crime, extending the hours of dusk-like light, and casting the buildings in an otherworldly haze.

Liang Yue 'Morse Code 12' from the series 'Several Dusks' 2003 C-type print Width 120 cm x height 80 cm Collection of Guy & Myriam Ullens Foundation, Switzerland © Liang Yue

Liang Yue 'Morse Code 12' from the series 'Several Dusks' 2003 C-type print Width 120 cm x height 80 cm Collection of Guy & Myriam Ullens Foundation, Switzerland © Liang Yue

Liang Yue 'Morse Code 10 ' from the series 'Several Dusks' 2003 C-type print Width 120 cm x height 80 cm Collection of Guy & Myriam Ullens Foundation, Switzerland © Liang Yue

Liang Yue 'Morse Code 10 ' from the series 'Several Dusks' 2003 C-type print Width 120 cm x height 80 cm Collection of Guy & Myriam Ullens Foundation, Switzerland © Liang Yue

According to Noe et al., Liang’s work is an expression of something deeply personal and internal, yet she captures people, places, and activities that reflect the larger community of urban Chinese. Even when striving to capture the relatively quiet city at night, Liang portrays a broader story:

as much as these works are based in peace and quiet, they are simultaneously filled with the traces of humanity. The drawn curtains and distant lights on the highway suggest a multitude of lives and stories unfolding (Ibid).

Her photography and video work follows friends and strangers in routine / mundane activities, bringing everyday moments into an exaggerated light, and highlighting the publicity of intimacy in crowded urban centers. Traveling Day (2005/6) documents a trip taken with friends from Shanghai to a little town in Zhejiang province, and has been praised as “a subtle portrait of everyday things in the life of ordinary young people.” Lady Lady (2007), which follows Liang’s friend shopping in Hong Kong, where she buys extreme amounts of cosmetics. This film was featured at the China Independent Film Festival in 1999. The  schedule helpfully points out the fact that Liang is a female.

Liang’s ability to portray the mingling of public and personal that occurs in modern urban China is something she shares with contemporary female artists, such as Ciu Xiuwen (b. 1970), whose video Underground 2, captures a woman on the subway, tearing dead skin off her lips, temporarily unaware or uncaring of the public space she has chosen for this action.

I think that ultimately, Liang provides a lifeline to the individual to prevent loss in the drone of the city. Take the photograph below in which:

…the figure is shown standing in the distance on a pedestrian footbridge. People pass by and traffic can be seen rushing beneath. The scene is a blur of movement and activity except for the tiny beam of the flashlight that fives an intimate point of contact across space and time and suggests sympathy for individual consciousness within an indifferent environment (Ibid).

From Noe, et. al., page 145.

More on Liang Yue can be found at:

http://chngyaohong.com/blog/photography/liang-yue/

http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/photography/past_exhns/twilight/yue/index.html

http://china.shanghartgallery.com/galleryarchive/archives/id/330

http://www.shanghart.com/exhibitions/liangyue.htm

http://www.culture24.org.uk/art/photography+%2526+film/art40915

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Written by Andrea Descoteaux Hugg

January 23, 2010 at 9:48 PM

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