Film screening on the March 25th, 2022 at Central Michigan University
Gifts For The River Film Festival seeks to celebrate our relationship with the land and waterways that sustain us. To celebrate the artists and filmmakers who are in intentional relationship with the natural world and utilize their medium to create awareness about the issues that threaten Mother Earth as well as celebrate the ongoing resilience of Turtle Island and the peoples who care for it.
As part of the conference series on “Women and Masks” at Boston University, I am glad to present my long-term research on performance artist Xie Rong 谢蓉 (Echo Morgan) for the first time.
The performances of Xie Rong 谢蓉 (Echo Morgan) engage with Masks and Maskings as strategies of a strong contemporary female artistic expression. Born in Chengdu in 1983, Xie Rong’s studies have taken her to the UK, where she currently lives and works. Looking at Chinese culture from a diasporic perspective, her performances focus mainly on her family history in relation to the political history of modern China. She uses both physical Masks as well as various strategies of Masking her skin, which highlight the body both as a place for the projection of transcultural phantasy and as a site of power struggle. Contextualising the case study of Xie Rong, the presentation takes a conceptual approach, to understand her artistic engagement with Masks and Maskings as a ‘method’ of corporeal investigation and as ambitious intercultural articulation.
Freda Fiala is a writer working across the contexts of performance art, new media dramaturgy and interculturalism, through researching and curating. She is a fellow of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and currently pursues a PhD on contemporary performance practices in East Asia. She studied Theater and Chinese Studies in Vienna, Berlin, Hong Kong and Taipei. Her research interests mainly include cultural diversity, cross-cultural exchange and ‘actionable speculations’ in the age of digitalisation.
Lawn Are an Ecological Disaster, Are you surprised?
This year I have been researcher on the history of Lawn. Reflecting on the social and environmental impacts of Lawns, family roots, man occupied space, collective memories, native species beyond human centred perspectives. How visionary plans for the city can be sustainable for generations to come.
Portrait 爱LOVE is made from layers of wild flowers and weeds from our lawn. The character written across my face reads: Love. If the lawn is a symbol of status and a sign of pride and unity in the community, I truly wish our love for a manicured lawn can be more inclusive by allowing it to grew higher and more wild.
Film: TianFu Lawn: Keep off the Grass In early 90s, my father’s business was declining. He borrowed money from his friends and family to invest in properties. A trusted the contact in the government, shared a secret business opportunity. Chengdu is redesigning its city centre on Ren Min south road, where the imperial city was demolished during the Cultural Revolution. My father can invest in one real estate and turn it into a shop front. This seems to be a golden opportunity to change his life, he dreamed excitedly the future customers spending fortune on his merchandise in the middle of this heavenly city centre. One year later, the reality was unexpected and cruel. This city centre square that many people was waiting for was 88000 square meters of lawn. Lawn does not grow well in China so for the next 24years, “Keep Off the Grass” has become a symbol for a civilised city. Together with ground-breaking urban modernisation, our motherland has transformed from mountains and water, villages and gardens to forests of irons and concretes decorated by manicured and not so evergreen turf patches.
XieRong’s wild lawn & neighbour’s manicured lawn, Surrey England
TianFu Square in1980, ChengDu China
XieRong’s father in TianFu Square, 1991, ChengDu China
Echo Morgan (Xie Rong) is a performance artist. She has always been interested in the relationship between Body, Memory and Politics through gesture, mark making and storytelling. Through video and an audience Q&A, she will share her research into some inspirational artist’s projects (including Betsy Damon, Zheng Bo and Song Chen), that address important environmental issues through the theme of water, plants and soil.