Echo Morgan is the English name of Xie Rong, a Chengdu-born, London-based, multi-disciplinary artist whose work is underpinned by a dark family story. She works with stereotypes of ‘Chineseness’ and femininity in order to subvert them. Morgan has written texts on her skin using red lipstick, black Chinese ink, white ‘ink’ made from jasmine tea, and her own breast milk after giving birth to her second child. She has played with tropes of Chinoiserie, painting her naked body to resemble blue and white porcelain, and then inviting the audience to violently wash the patterns away by hurling water-filled balloons at her. Her work mines her own experiences of childhood, family, marriage and motherhood – and those of her female ancestors. She is a story-teller.
Juxtaposing English narration with Chinese traditional songs, Morgan plays with her complex hybrid identity and her difficult childhood. She explores the territory of translation: between two languages, between gesture and stillness, between her Chinese past and English present, between performance and image.
Since my father passed away two years ago I found impossible to make live art, he was the drive, the inspirations for my action art. My straggled soul found huge peace, hope and happiness in daily life of caring my boys. But I have missed so much of the honesty, vulnerability and power of being the ART and communicate to the world through ACTION. Thank you Jonas Stampe for inviting me to the 11th of Live Action in Gothenburg. I am honored to join with some amazing live artists to explore, experience and express the magic of live art. #Gothenburg#lindamarymontano#performanceart#johncourt#huangrui#echomorgan#carlosmartiel#annerochat#行为艺术#哥德堡
During Cultural Revolution red guards cut off Buddha heads from the temple to destroy the tradition, religion and history. My father’s antique passion is collecting jade and Buddha head. Bankrupted and lonely, he brushes his jade days and night. Outdoor flea market, where people are looking for things used, interesting and cheap.
3 Hours Lipsticks, sete traditional water jousting shield and jousting pole, white French girl’s outfit @Sete, Infr’action,14.09.2013 My uncle used to call me the Don Quixote. I was excited to discover the famous sport in Sete: Water Jousting and noticed it’s a game for boys only. I covered my body with red lipsticks to create an image of a very feminine modern water jousting warrior. During the three hours performance I began unexpectedly crying.
30 min, Photography by Roland-von-der-Emden, Joachim Axelsson and Yau Wen
Live chicken, tent, soup, knife, and 10 min film projection @Sete, Infr’action12.09.2013
My mum was born at the Chinese year of rooster, she has a scar like the shape of a rooster. She always describes herself as the elegant proud animal. Born in 1957, her childhood was during The Three Years of Great Chinese Famine. In her memory, killing and eating a rooster was a family celebration, a joyful experience that only comes once a year and often shared by the whole street. Invited by me, my mum killed, de-feathered, de-gutted, cooked and finally ate a rooster. Recorded from my mobile phone through Chinese social media, this footage was projected in the background. In contrast I was holding and comforting a live chicken, later audiences were invited to drink chicken soup with me.
Photography by Roland-von-der-Emden, Vincent Campos and Bjorn Veno
2 hours, 11 . 09 . 2013 @ Sète, outdoor market
Be persistent in training! Strengthen our bodies! Study diligently! Serve our motherland!
Radio gymnastic exercise (Guangbo Ticao ????) is part of the school curriculum in most primary (age 6-11) and secondary (age 12-17) schools in China. Every morning at 6:10am. As a communist child I was a monitor since the age of 4. One of my daily duties was lend the morning exercise. In this performance follow the Chinese Radio gymnastic exercise music. I will begin to practice morning exercise, during Two-hour session, I gradually wrap brown tapes around my body until I can’t move.
Performance by Echo Morgan, 17. 09 . 2013 @ Sumarria Lunn Gallery, Live Performance: 1 Hours
waxed huddha head and bodysuit, tight rope, toothbrushes, 10 min film projection on loop @Sumarria Lunn Gallery, 17.09.2013.
At the Closing evening of Tightrope, I performed the final part of my performance: Brushing Jade: Father’s Jade. I wore a waxed Buddha head and bodysuit, my body was covered with green clay and audiences were invited to brush the clay off my body. A film of me brushing jade and my father was projected at the background wall.
Scaffolding, safety net,waxed buddha head, brush, body
@Sumarria Lunn Gallery, 05.09.2013
At the private view of Tightrope, I performed the first part of my performance: Brushing Jade: Jade Buddha I wore a waxed buddha head, stood silently inside a scaffolding structure. My body was covered with green clay, left audience wondering what will happen in the second part of the Brushing Jade performance. Please come and join me on the 17th of September to complete my Brushing Jade performance as a whole.
Entering its ninth year of existence Infr’Action will take place from September 11th to 15th in the public space of Sète and at the city’s own beautiful Musée Paul Valéry. Five days, five performances. It’s all about action.
Follow me on instagram for all my working in progress : )
15 min presentation for my final exam at Royal College of Art
I borrowed the gesture and name of Changing face?? which is an ancient Chinese dramatic art that is part of the Sichuan opera. Performers wear vividly coloured masks, typically depicting well known characters from the opera, which they change from one face to another almost instantaneously with the swipe of a fan, a movement of the head, or wave of the hand.
However, My changing face is a slower act, through the mediums of live spoken words, film projection and showing photographies from previous performances. I invite you to share my performative journey of last two year.
All the fragments act as a mechanical reproduction circle based on my Buddism philosophy of Samsara.
Scaffolding, open frame industrial monitors, films
2meter x 2meter
Royal College of Art Show RCA2013
A Pai Fang ?? is a traditional style of Chinese arch,
a historically popular monument that celebrates important family members and achievements. The most famous are “Virgin Pai Fangs” which memorialise the chastity of wives who never remarried after the death of their husbands.
Family Tree stands a new kind of Pai Fang, a multimedia monumental arch constructed by skeletal scaffolding poles. Eight open-frame industrial monitors hang on the structure on multiple planes, showing films, some sound tracked, some not, whose 3D construction offers the viewer multi-layered experiences of family in imagery, interviews and my own reminiscences. A new memorial.
Live Performance, 4 hours @Royal College of Art 25.04.2012
Clay, body paint, Chinese tissue paper, willow sculpture, audio
In China, people give a life size Vase as a gift for the opening of a new building, a new business. 25th of April 2012, At the opening of the new Dyson building I transformed my body into a blue and white porcelain vase. My body drifted inside the fresh and empty space, I breath with this new landmark of the Royal College of Art. Story began with my father’s attempt to commit suicide. The performance revealed my uneasy childhood and difficult relationship with my father. I was still and silent whilst my voice revealed the narrative using a pre-recorded audiotape.
It matters not the height; if an immortal resides in a mountain it becomes famous.
? ? ? ??? ? ? ??
It matters not the depth; if a dragon lives in a body of water it becomes magical.
? ? ? ??? ? ? ??
This is a crude house; only I appreciate its fragrance.
? ? ? ??? ? ? ? ??
Moss ascends the steps, turning them green,
grass’ color enters the blinds, turning them blue.
? ? ? ? ??? ? ? ? ??
In talk and laughter there are scholars with profound knowledge,
and among those coming andgoing there are no illiterate men.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ??
One can play the lute and read the golden scriptures.
? ? ? ? ? ??? ? ? ? ? ??
There is no string or wind instruments to confuse the ear,
and no desk paper work to strain the body.
? ? ? ? ??? ? ? ? ??
It’s Zhu Ge’s thatched house in Nanyang; it’s Zi Yun’s gazebo in West Shu.
? ? ??? ? ? ??
Confucius says, “What crudeness is there?”
As Minister of Rites at the imperial court, Liu Yu Xi (772 – 842 C.E.) took part in the Yong Zhen Reform, which attempted to limit the power of the palace eunuchs and the provincial governors. When the Reform failed he was demoted to be a mere county administrative officer out in one of the provinces.Upon seeing that he continued to openly espouse the Reform Movement, the county head placed Liu’s living quarters in the crudest little house with only one room, contrary to existing remuneration regulations for his rank, which called for three chambers and three living rooms. Unbowed, Liu wrote this piece and had it inscribed in stone and erected outside the little house.
The Royal Standard in collaboration with Drawing Paper and Liverpool Biennial present a one-day experimental event exploring the relationship between sound, performance and drawing. It will screening my films:
People always say that I have balls. I am a tiny Chinese girl, hair doesn’t even grow much on me. But apparently I have balls. Big heavy balls. The empire of china cut off the male servant’s balls so he remains the only man in the Forbidding City; Priest cut off the choir boy’s balls so they have better sweeter voice. My balls are my thoughts, my balls are my emotions, my balls are my baggage of memory, my ball are filled with air, my balls are light as feather… Ball of steel… Come to tingle my rusty bell, I will sing for you, I will tell you a story…
Song Dong said to me, “You and your art are now embodied, I can not separated you from your art, let your personal story grow, use your individual voice to tell the larger history. It’s moving and powerful, you are my mirror.”
I met SongDong in 2006 when I was working for Selfridge’s 3D Creative team, that year Selfridges invited two Chinese contemporary artists, SongDong and WangQingSong, to create large installations for a Chinese themed window display.
SongDong is the artist who performed Stamping The Water in1996. For me one of the most direct, poetic and emotional performances that challenged the subject of time, ownership, politics, body and nature.
Waste not in 2012 at theLondonBarbicanCenter and Writing Diary with Water exhibits at the Hayward Gallery made SongDong a very visible figure in the contemporary art world.
Song Dong remains incredibly kind, modest, sincere and encouraging. He is a pure Chinese intellectual and a true gentleman.
What is the mirror? Talking to the mirror in the heart.
Song Dong lead a performance workshop inspired by the question ‘What is the mirror?’ at the Hayward Gallery. I was his student for five days.
Song Dong said “The class not only exists inschool hours it is also wherever and whenever you decide to learn.”
He divided the lesson into three days in the classroom and two days of outside homework.
Day one: Facing
Our instruction was to face a wall for 10 minutes, then face one classmate for 10 minutes. Our homework was to face an object for 10 minutes.
Day two: Homework day
I traveled back to 10 places that i had called home over the last 10 years. I stood outside each door for 10 minutes. I faced the doors for which I no longer have keys, I faced my past, I faced the changes.
Day three: You Are My Mirror
Two people were connected by three single strings: one between their mouths and one between each of their opposite hands. One person was designated to lead slow movements and the other one to follow whilst keeping his or her eyes closed. The goal was to keep each string taut as the movements became more exaggerated.
Day four: Homework day
Follow a stranger on the street, mirror every single movement he or she does for 10 minutes.
Day five: Who is Leader and My Mirror
1. Who is the leader
This is a repeat of the string exercise only now there are four people involved. One person (the follower) is controlled by three people (the leaders) each with their own string.
I was being led, but in reality it transpired that the leaders felt more like the followers.
I sat in front of a ball of black string for five minutes. I then unraveled the string quickly whilst wrapping it around my face. I moved faster and faster as the ball of string became smaller and smaller. My face gradually disappeared as my breathing became more and more erratic form the physical effort. Finally I transformed into the black ball that was originaly in front of me.
The gesture of facing the object and the use of string are my continuation of SongDong’s theme. My mirror is my past, my mirror is my memory, my mirror is the self-tangling, my mirror is the helpless controlling.
This performance was inspired by Nigel Rolfe’s performance The Rope.
A land not mine, still forever memorable, the waters of its ocean chill and fresh. Sand on the bottom whiter than chalk, and the air drunk, like wine, late sun lays bare the rosy limbs of the pinetrees. Sunset in the ethereal waves: I can not tell if the day is ending, or the world, or if the secret of secrets is inside me again.