Flight Internal: Yang Liping and Ethnic Primitive

What Mo Yan (the “Faulkner” of the post Mao art world) and Yang Liping (in her own way a kind of Diaghilev+ Ruth St. Denis of the post-Mao dance world) have in common is considerable, though I know of no critic who has taken up this matter.

There is at first glimpse no reason to suspect any cross-identity. There is no record of the two having ever met or exchanged letters. Mo Yan’s genre is associated with Magical Realism and Carnival – both of which have cross-border valence. (The critic should be able to “read” him with no instruction, only translation). Yang Liping with a more or less self-invented notion of primitive purism (retreat into pre-literacy), which has no such thing, or at least nearly so, since it is a form almost of cultural anthropology devoid of text or conclusion.

The commonality lies in a similarity of pursuit: pursuit of a middle ground (better: means of “flight”, escape, or transcendence) between or over the commodified/ying world of global art (via multinational and mainly Hong Kong based film) on the one hand and the now delegitimized, unrecoverable world of the “17 years” (1949-66) when state-studio-film (and kindred) art was still self-consciously innovative and spoke with and to the soul, albeit a collective one (which it now underbudgeted no longer does though there are still projects…)


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