Yang Fudong, Seven Intellectuals in Bamboo Forest, 2004

Yang Fudong – Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest and Other Stories

Athens Conservatoire

The first part of the monumental cinematic cycle Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest, which forms the core of the artist’s entire oeuvre, as well as of the present exhibition, was presented at the Venice Biennale in 2003. Although the other parts of the cycle have been exhibited at times individually, we had to wait until 2007 to see the complete epic pentalogy, with a total duration of about four hours, in his successful installation at the Arsenale, where one story succeeded the other in five different rooms.

By adopting an evident painterly approach in works that were filmed with a movie camera, and then transferred to DVD, so that they could be presented as audiovisual installations in museums and exhibition spaces, Yang Fudong, who has studied painting at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, expands further this translation process from one genre to the other. The narrative of the five stories rests on oral traditions, diverse variations and legends, about a group of seven Chinese scholars and poets of the 3rd century AD, who, reacting against political corruption, retired from the public and governmental life to seek, through poetry and music, pure meditation and discussion, an inner peace and hedonistic communion with nature. In the transposition of this open-ended narrative, the artist, apart from borrowing the title, preserves its primary structural elements, such as the number of characters, their spirituality and team spirit, but above all focuses on the condition of an intellectual self-exile that emerges in the margins of social life.

Curated by Anna Kafetsi