About the Survival and Growth of Underground Musicians in China

Opening Reception: Thursday, Nov.15, 2018,6:00 pm- 8:00 pm 

Open Hours:  Nov. 16 - Nov. 26, 2018, 10:00 am - 05:00 pm 

Address: 333 5th, # 4F, New York, NY 10016

Press &Media Interview: Nov. 15, 2018,3:00 pm - 06:00 pm 

Documentary Showtime: 10:30 am / 01:00 pm / 03:00 pm

Evolution is a visual art exhibition featuring documentaries and photographs by Mr. Yang Zhang, a renowned director of documentaries about 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 throughout the past two decades. Yang’s documentaries have become synonymous to the passion of the young generation in China while they also serves as windows, through which people themselves can see the true nature of underground music. This exhibition features the premiere of Yang’s documentary China Youth Today, and the exhibition is 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 pursue of music. As an accurate reflection of the era, the documentary was regarded to be the best representation of China’s underground Rock & Roll community in the early 21st century, despite its temporary suspension of international release between 2002 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 community, Yang recorded 5,000 hours of video footage while working and living with local Rock & Roll bands and musicians. In these footage, Yang captured the struggle, confusion, joy, and frustration behind the scenes that musicians experienced on their path to fame. In 2001, Yang's sister edited the footages, and condensed them into a documentary. The documentary encompasses two unique perspectives as they was originally filmed by Yang, an insider, and then edited by Yang’s sister, an outsider. The clash of the distinctive vantage points 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, has achieved fame and success. The documentary serves to showcase the true nature of underground music behind the scenes so that audience can better understand identities of those musicians under the spotlight.


China Youth Today (2015 – 2017)

After 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 has evolved and matured over the years. In the past, Miserable Faith channeled a lot of aggressions, cynicisms, and angers towards the status quo of the surrounding into their lyrics, but now the band has become more people oriented and shifted its focus on their musicality itself. The name, China Youth Today, also encompassed a vision that Yang and the Miserable Faith shared,  a vision 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  timeless paragon of the constant evolution underwent by 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 FilmFestivals 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.

Since 2008, Yang has worked as a 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). Furthermore, 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, and 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, and 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.


New York


Curator:  Xiaojuan Xie

Producer:  Yiwei Zhang

Organizer:  Ning Wang

Sponsor:  Ning Gallery


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