CLIMB UP THERE | FANG YANG
Fang Yang (Wuhan, 1996) develops an interesting interdisciplinary practice that combines sculpture with animated videos, in search of points of contact, or rather collision, between primitive mythology, associated with folk beliefs, and the consumerist dynamics of contemporary society. From these contrasts arise new narratives and personal interpretations of reality.
Climb up There (2022) is an artwork full of cultural references, and more or less recognizable conceptual meanings, consisting of two elements showed side by side: a sculpture made of white mineral clay, taking the form of a galloping horse atop a directional pole, with a chain and a roll of toilet paper fused with the animal; the second element is a video screened on a medium-sized screen.
In contrast with the whiteness of the sculpture, the video is in color and created with animation that skillfully blends two-dimensionality and three-dimensionality.
In just two minutes (specifically 1’39’’), Fang Yang creates a narrative in which different characters appear – punk/terminator-style skulls, a robot knight, animals, and figures that are not immediately recognizable but have the appearance of mythological creatures. What seems to be the common thread of the story is the situation of conflict that unites all the characters, where it is always clear who the winner and the loser are.
There seems to be a stark power disparity, and the losers fight battles they cannot win, such as the knight who, riding his steed, embarks on a futile race, as he is bound by heavy chains and unable to proceed; or the mantises that fight a giant monster capable of sweeping them away with a single gesture of its ‘hand’.
In Climb up There, the artist reflects also on gender roles, revealing a sense of inadequacy and guilt regarding the inability to meet societal expectations and stereotypes. Several elements contribute to creating this narrative, starting with the title. “I thought you were proud of me” is the thought repeatedly expressed in this work, in the form of text spinning in a circular motion along the edges of the video and obsessively pronounced by a voice-over.
Fang Yang’s artwork is both captivating and tormented, prompting reflection on the injustice of certain gender dogmas and stereotypes imposed by today’s society, and the limits of the resistance methods that can be employed.
Climb up There, 2022
Video installation, mineral clay (160 x 118 x 80 cm), 4K video (1’39’’)
© Courtesy the artist and MadeIn Gallery