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.
Photography by Roland-von-der-Emden,Yau Wen and Kovács István
3 hours, 13 . 09 . 2013 @ Sète, outdoor market
ZeZette (traditional cookie from Sète,France) I ate the first fortune cookie when I arrived in London. It’s a Chinese symbol created by American consumerism but not popular in Mainland China. Shaped like the folded version of local cookie zezettes. I plan to invite audience to think, interact and make me as a Chinese zezettes. I set inside a box cover and decorated like a table. Only head is visible. Covered with note that reference the words people found in Chinese fortune cookies. Baking ingredients for Zezettes are places on the table labelled with different meanings. Audiences are invited to cover my head with:
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.
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.
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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.