Arts and Culture
This contribution will attempt to bring to the fore the fear of feminine power associated with sophisticated beauty woven into Yang Fudong’s photographies and films of contemporary elegant urbanites, of beautiful women in the manner of the 1930s and of Qing Dynasty concubines. It will suggest that behind the apparent representation of a non-gendered problematic regarding the destruction of Chinese philosophical tradition in present China under the free reign of capitalism what is at play is the social role of women associated with their sophisticated demeanor. This phenomenon indeed appeared in China in the 1930s as a mirror effect of European Années folles and their cohort of sexually free powerful and beautiful women, while it seems that the lack of value of feminity during the Communist era kept the power of beauty at bay. In many films the beautiful women is presented as a threat to the male ego, be it in the form of 1930s elegant partygoers, or swimmers, or 1800s concubines, in a way that recalls Chinese tradition of associating feminine beauty to a threat.