“Ye Funa: Where are we from? Where are we going?” is the first exhibition to be unveiled at the new gallery space of Contemporary by Angela Li, after its recent move. On show will be more than 20 works by this young contemporary Chinese artist, including videos, installations and photographic works. In her works, Ye Funa turns herself into a “historical curious youth” (in the words of famous Chinese contemporary artist Qiu Zhiji). She invites her friends and relatives, as well as the security guards and cleaning ladies that she knows, to dress up and act as the characters in the propaganda-like front covers of the historical ethnic magazine The Nationalities Pictorial. Through the deliberate and unnatural stiffness of the actors and the strange atmospheres, the artist investigates the cliché images that together form the collective memories in Chinese history. Ye Funa also interviews and acts as her own parents and grandparents and turns the old black-and-white family photographs into videos. Through the study of her own family history and these magazine covers, we see a post-80’s artist looking at her own “roots”, on both personal and social levels.
As a second generation artist, Ye Funa’s creativity is surprisingly independent. She does not seem to carry the baggage of having the need to surpass the success of her older generation. Having graduated from the prestigious Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing and then obtaining an MFA from London’s Central St Martin’s College of Art, she is currently a full-time artist and also teaching in the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in Chongqing. This background and her upbringing have has given Ye Funa the best training and unlimited creative freedom. As a post-80’s youth living in a contemporary Chinese society, she investigates through her works the slowly disappearing values of the family, society and her country, under the constant bombardment of the media, advertisements and the growing trend of globalisation.