Dec 14

Encounter with Ma Yongfeng

mayongfeng , 09:51 , feedback | 反馈 , 评论(0) , 引用(0) , 阅读(1250) , Via 本站原创
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Posted in Art Show Reviews on November 20th, 2006

mayongfeng-originofspecies
Originally uploaded by cmchin.

It is such a joy to walk into a gallery and find myself entranced. Add coincidence to the general good fortune of the day: Ma Yongfeng himself was at the gallery on the Sunday afternoon that I visited, which helped to further illuminate the works.

I was immediately drawn to the video “The Storm” which, on closer inspection, subtly reveals itself to be a constructed flood of water over a miniature topology, complete with miniature dwellings. The set is filmed from a single vantage point, and the lighting is sparse, at times flickering like lightening. The position of the camera places the viewer in the direct path of the flowing water. There is a sense of witnessing disaster, yet the conscious mind is distinctly aware of the artificiality. Nature, so often personified as having a fickle disposition, is recreated on the set as water animated by physical forces. And yet, as the viewer imagines the set as a life-size flood, a tinge of fear is added to the equation and nature is once again a personality unto itself.

The title of the show, “Becoming Landscape,” hints at how the artist wants us to see ourselves in these sets. The photographs of the series “Origin of Species” are life-sized sets, constructed to evoke zoo displays. Usually, at the zoo, these sets would be inhabited by what might be termed by Darwinists as creatures of lesser evolutionary achievements. But left empty and photographed for a human audience, they seem to invite the viewer to become a specimen. As our actions re-create the landscapes we inhabit, Ma Yongfeng’s images invite the question: what kinds of cages are we building for ourselves?
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