The protagonist of Revival of the Snake, 2005, previously published as Dengdai she de suxing/Waiting for the Snake to Wake Up, 2005, is a fleeing soldier, perhaps a prisoner who has suffered defeat, or a deserter who has been captured and punished. Left to his own devices, the man struggles to survive, against the backdrop of a hostile winter landscape. Over the course of his wanderings, the only other human beings he encounters are the participants at a funeral. Observed at a distance, the sad procession seems to prefigure the protagonist’s possible fate.
A monumental video installation, one of the most dramatic Yang Fudong has produced to date, the work includes eight plasma screens and two large video projections. Characteristic of the Chinese artist’s videos, the installation emphasizes the concurrent development of the event on several temporal levels, in accordance with the editing, which goes beyond simple linear and sequential logic. Instead of framing the event in a particular era, the artist focuses his attention on the theme of the contrast between the individual and the community, stressing the lacerating effects of isolation. The soundtrack, specifically composed for the piece, helps to immerse viewers in an intensely emotional setting, making palpable the human condition of physical and psychological fragility.
The protagonists of Yang Fudong’s works share in common a search for the meaning of reality and difficulty in relating to it. His video installations, like his photographs and especially his films, analyze in different ways the complex relationship between the new generation of Chinese intellectuals and the profound changes of a political, economic, and social nature that are occurring within their country. The protagonists of these works are men and women between twenty and thirty years of age, characters used to describe the anxieties of a generation still burdened by the responsibility of choosing and defining their future. Sometimes poetically transfigured in a timeless setting, at other times recognizable as the new power that has entered the global culture of consumerism, China is always present in the artist’s works.