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Mulitple Encounters 

When: Nov. 6-Feb. 2 2014
In Yang Fudong’s 2005 short film The Half Hitching Post, two suit-clad men ascend a sinuous mountain road headed for an isolated village. Meanwhile, a young couple attempts to escape that same village. As the duos each travel their whimsically enmeshed paths, we see them lost amid an entanglement of mountainous curvature that is both eerily unfamiliar and sublimely beautiful. The film is part of Multiple Encounters, an exhibit currently on view at BAM/PFA (2575 Bancroft Way, Berkeley) that puts it in direct conversation with historical 16th-century Chinese ink paintings. The show is complementary to the museum’s spectacular mid-career survey of Yang’s work, entitled Estranged Paradise, which runs through December 8. But while the primary exhibit focuses on Yang as a seminal contemporary Chinese filmmaker, Multiple Encounters takes a more conceptual standpoint, urging viewers to consider him as one name in a long history of Chinese artists. Paintings like Wen Zhengming’s “Landscape with Figures,” which portrays travelers in an unruly mountainous terrain through delicate and languid brushstrokes, tie Yang’s piece to a thought-provoking aesthetic ancestry. In doing so, the exhibit prompts discussion of the ways in which our cultural relationships to both natural landscape and artistic medium have in some ways shifted drastically, and in others remain nearly the same.
— Sarah Burke

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