4K, color, sound
The ten-screen video The Square Reserve features ten people of different ages, genders and identities, drinking and dancing to music of their choice on a small square piece of artificial turf in the open picturesque landscape. The body begins to resist against time and space as the dance continues, and the people gradually enter the state where consciousness and unconsciousness merge. Seen through the camera lens, they are lonely and have seemingly forgotten that their bodies and actions are being recorded live. They are enjoying the pleasure of being overlooked by the world and by themselves. Humanity and animality, civilization and nature are constantly intertwined in fascination, like a Bacchus carnival proclaiming freedom, or an attempt to preserve the underlying primitiveness through customary means.
In the distance, some inebriated people are seen between the sky and the mountains from dawn to dusk. We faintly hear songs they love coming out of their earphones. Dressed in unsophisticated attire, they do not look like urban elites. Seen through the camera lens, they are lonely and have seemingly forgotten that their bodies and actions are being recorded live. They are enjoying the pleasure of being overlooked by the world and by themselves.
The above describes Yao Cong’s ten-channel video, The Square Reserve. In the summer of 2020, Yao Cong visited the small town of Alxa in Inner Mongolia and met with locals on the streets. They are accustomed to this place, yet seemed somewhat restless as if longing for a life beyond the mountains but unwilling to give up the embrace of their hometown. Yao Cong told them that he loved to have fun in nature and wanted to organize an “event” to dive into the wilderness to refresh the mood, drink beer as one pleases, and run or shout without any setbacks. Two weeks later, ten people signed up, and they arrived at the Helanshan Mountain Nature Reserve. Among the men, women, and children, there was only one non-local participant. The rules they agreed upon included having a square green mat set up in the dry river channels with beer available nearby. Each participant could listen to a song of their choice; once the “event” begins, Yao Cong would turn on the camera and climb to the other side of the riverbank to hide, leaving the place to his friends, drinking. (text: Yang Zi)