london

Yang Fudong, Fifth Night, 2010, still from a seven-channel black-and-white HD video transferred from 35 mm, 10 minutes 37 seconds.

Yang Fudong

Parasol unit

Yang Fudong, Fifth Night, 2010, still from a seven-channel black-and-white HD video transferred from 35 mm, 10 minutes 37 seconds.

Yang Fudong’s black-and-white film Fifth Night, 2010, offers an allegory of philosophical searching in Shanghai’s old town over the course of one night in the 1920s. The roughly ten-minute piece (shot in 35 mm and transferred to HD video) follows several characters who, with pained expressions, wander around carriages, vintage cars, and a table set with laboratory-specimen jars (one with a live fish swimming around in it) as bicycle rickshaws pass by, workers attempt to repair an old tramcar, and men in business suits sit silently on a couch placed on a platform in the middle of the square. Throughout, the city appears more like a stage set than a real urban context. Yet despite—or perhaps because of—the work’s high production values, redoubled by its exquisite installation over seven screens mounted on one wall of Parasol Unit’s largest gallery, it felt superficial.

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