“There are so many people, events and subjects in the world that I wish to see through my camera lens. Among them, photographing and recording musicians has been my lifelong passion as it not only allows me to work closely with my friends but also satisfies my dream of one day becoming a musician myself. In the arena of art, filmmaking is my weapon of choice to express my inner self, photography is how I preserve the memories that I cherish the most, and documentary is the vault of aspiration and creativity that I will always hold close to my heart.”
— Yang Zhang
Evolution, a visual art exhibition featuring documentaries and photographs by Mr. Yang Zhang, a renowned director of documentaries on China’s underground music. In the Post-Revolutionary Era, a documentary that Yang filmed two decades ago, Yang captured every aspect of the underground music scene in a time where the society did not pay any attention to non-mainstream music genres. As an underground musician himself, Yang documented the survival and growth of his peers with passion and enthusiasm in the past two decades. Yang’s documentaries have become a synonym of passion for the young generation in China while it also serves as a window, through which people can see the true nature of underground music. This exhibition features the premiere of Yang’s documentary China Youth Today, marks Yang’s first solo exhibition in New York City, and the first time that his artworks go on display for audiences in the U.S.A.
The exhibition features two series of Yang’s visual artwork from two distinct periods of Yang’s career. Series A features the documentary Post-Revolutionary Era (produced between 1997 and 2002)， as well as ten pieces of related photography artworks. Series B includes the documentary China Youth Today (produced between 2015 and 2017) and eleven pieces of related photography artworks.
Post-Revolutionary Era (1997-2002)
Post-Revolutionary Era captured the persevering spirits of the struggling underground musicians in Beijing at the time, as well as their unshakable faith in their music. As an accurate reflection of the era, the documentary was regarded as the best representation of China’s underground Rock & Roll in the early 21st century, despite its temporary suspension for international release between 2003 and 2004.
In the five years between 1997 and 2002, Yang invested all his time, energy and savings into the production of the Post-Revolutionary Era. After five years at Shucun, the central hub of Beijing’s underground music, Yang recorded 5,000 hours of video footage while working and living with local Rock & Roll bands and musicians. In the footage, Yang captured the struggle, confusion, joy, and frustration behind the scenes that musicians experienced on their path to stardom. The documentary encompasses two unique perspectives as it was originally filmed by Yang, an insider, and then edited by Yang’s sister, an outsider. The clash of the distinctive points of views made the Post-Revolutionary Era an ideal teaching material for filmmaking and it has been frequently featured in the classes at the Beijing Film Academy. Most of the bands that appeared in the documentary, such as the Miserable Faith, had gone on to achieve fame and success. The documentary serves to showcase the true nature of underground music behind the scenes so that their audience can understand their identities under the spotlight.
China Youth Today (2015 – 2017)
Following the Post-Revolutionary Era, Yang filmed another documentary China Youth Today between 2015 and 2017. The band Miserable Faith was featured in both the Post-Revolutionary Era and China Youth Today, and we could see how the band evolved and matured over the years. In the past, Miserable Faith channeled a lot of aggression, cynicism, and anger towards the status quo into their lyrics, but now the band has shifted their focus on their music itself and people themselves. The name, China Youth Today, also encompassed a vision that Yang and the Miserable Faith shared, where people could remain true to their original aspirations and work together to solve the common problems under a difficult macro environment. Today, the Miserable Faith has been at the forefront of China’s Rock & Roll space for 20 years, and it is the representation of the constant evolution of China’s underground musicians.
Yang Zhang, born in 1976 in Shenyang, China. Yang is a well-known documentary director, Rock & Roll singer, photographer, videographer, and album cover designer who currently lives and works in Beijing, China. Yang’s Post-Revolutionary Era, which is featured in this exhibition, has been showcased in over a dozen international and domestic exhibitions and film festivals, including the 2nd Annual Festival of Digital Media (Minneapolis, U.S.A. 2002), the Guangzhou Triennial "Each in Its Own Way" Exhibition (Guangzhou, China, 2003), the Wisconsin Film Festival Film Guide (Wisconsin, U.S.A., 2003), the New York Underground Film festival (New York, U.S.A., 2003), the Annual China Independent Film Festival (Beijing, China, 2003), and the Israel Film Festival (New York, U.S.A., 2004).
From 2003 to 2007, Yang served as the documentary director for multiple films, including Two Great Sheep, which was added to the official collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, U.S.A., The Park, and Finding Shangri-La. In 2005, Two Great Sheep won the Star!TV Award for Best Feature Film at the Victoria Film Festival in Canada, the Best Asian Film Promotion Award at the Festival des Cinémas d'Asie de Vesoul in France, and the Grand Jury Award at the Washington DC Independent Film Festival in the U.S.A. The Park, which was released in multiple countries across the world, received the Committee Special Recommendation Award at the 56th International Film Festivals Mannheim-Heidelberg in Germany in 2007. Finding Shangri-La, which was presented as the opening film at the Tokyo International Film Festival in 2010, also earned the Best Cinematography Award at the 32nd Cairo International Film Festival in 2008.
From 2008, Yang worked as the director and producer for a series of films, including The Life of Xiao Min, Kill Octopus Paul, DongJi Island, the musical film Gangli Si, and the TV series Overseas Security Guard (still in production). Around the same time, Yang served as the musical concert director for the 2010 Intercity Music Festival, the 2012 Last Days L. Right Concert, the 2013 Qingdao Intercity Music Festival, etc. In addition, Yang also worked as the videographer for several music videos of domestic Rock & Roll bands, including Tashi Delek by Miserable Faith, How It Ends, Responsible, and You Are Not the Loser by Yaska, The Heart Guides the Way by Long Shen Dao, Beijing, and The Blossom of Rock & Roll by Yunshan Zhou, Hearts, and Light by Zhui Xing Zu, Foreigners by Ember, etc. In 2011, as a representative of China’s film industry, Yang was selected as the spokesperson for Canon’s new product in Mainland China.
Curator: Xiaojuan Xie
Producer: Yiwei Zhang
Organizer: Ning Wang
Sponsor: Ning Gallery
Documentary Showtime: 10:30 am / 01:00 pm / 03:00 pm
Press &Media Interview: Nov. 15, 2018，3:00 pm - 06:00 pm
For More Information, Please Contact:
@Artist’s Website: www.young-films.com