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.
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.
I transformed the surface of my entire body into a Ming vase for an art work called I Am the Four Gentlemen . Through the mediums of performance and film, I explore the intrinsic and complex relationship between violence, beauty, and vulnerability, re-examining how these antipodal constructs impact ideas of the ‘self’ and the body.”
My print I am the Four Gentlemen and film Be the Inside of the Vase was celected in a group exhibition ‘Reincarnation’ at Londonprintstudio , “an exhibition featuring artists who breathe new life into old styles, creatively employing discarded materials, processes and identities in art.”
Performance by Echo Morgan
Photography by Jamie Baker
The performance ‘Be the Inside of the Vase’ was divided into two parts.
The first 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. In the second performance the story moved towards my relationship with my mother. Through my rather brutal personal history I addressed sexually political statements such as: from my father: “Women should be like vase, smooth, decorative and empty inside! ” From my mother: “ Don’t be a vase, pretty but empty inside, be the inside, be the quality!” From myself: “This is my voice, my story, my childhood, I am not a vase! .”