Business as Usual: New Video From China

A woman in fishnet stockings, styled with bangs that suggest Anna Karina, lounges around a Shanghai apartment. Men in Mao suits come and go, play cards, and wait nervously. They’re like a gang of petty criminals hiding from the cops—unless too timid (bored?) to commit an actual crime. In a second video by Yang Fudong, a man and his doppelgänger repeat parallel gestures, mimic movie stars, and dance, while a woman occasionally joins the bossa nova in their high-rise apartment. Again, the tenor is boredom, lassitude, stasis, waiting. Things are more industrious in the facing gallery at Business as Usual: New Video From China. In the first segment of her 20-minute triptych, Cao Fei documents workers in a giant light bulb factory, like the first shot of Manufactured Landscapes. The next interpolates fantasy figures, ballerinas and other dancers, onto the factory floor; and the third simply comprises worker portraits set to rock ballad sung in phonetic English. The two galleries depict different responses to China’s relentless growth: Yang’s subjects seem lost in cinematic reverie, shunning the economic reality outside their door; while Cao’s workers participate in the boom, by necessity if not choice. They have their dreams, too, but light bulbs still need to be made for customers an ocean away. BRIAN MILLER

Thursdays, Fridays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Starts: July 30. Continues through Oct. 4, 2009

 
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