Performance artist and art director for Tangram’s forthcoming production Nature Echo: meet Echo Morgan
I am Echo, and it’s a pleasure to introduce myself as the art director for the two performances of Nature Echo. The journey through this performance promises to be an immersive experience, blending the harmonies of nature’s echoes with the transformative power of music and art. With a talented ensemble and a programme that delves into our intricate relationship with the environment, Nature Echo is not just a concert; it’s a unique opportunity to connect, reflect, and be moved by the beauty and fragility of the natural world. Join us on this unforgettable musical expedition, where the boundaries between classical music and visual art blur, and the echoes of nature resonate within us all.
I first heard about Tangram Sound from Kakilang ⾃⼰⼈ (formerly Chinese Arts Now), an organisation that consistently delivers outstanding interdisciplinary art rooted in the diverse voices of Southeast and East Asia. Having resided in the UK for the past 21 years, I’ve always been drawn to the allure of Eastern sounds, especially when they exude freshness and innovation.
Tangram, a London-based music collective, is dedicated to crafting and curating ambitious, multi-disciplinary, and culturally-curious productions. What truly strikes a chord with me is their unwavering commitment to transcending the conventional divide between China and the West, connecting communities across the Chinese Diaspora and beyond. They inspire meaningful conversations, healing, and transformative change, all made possible through the collective experience of art.
I was already captivated by Beibei Wang’s mesmerising water drumming. So when Tangram’s co-director, Alex Ho, approached me with the Nature Echo project, I couldn’t help but see it as a remarkable opportunity. It promised a chance to connect with exceptionally talented musicians and immerse myself in the harmonious symphony of nature’s echoes.
What to expect
As my involvement progressed, I had the privilege of meeting co-director Rockey Sun Keting and the brilliant flautist Daniel Shao, who curated the evening’s musical programme. Through a series of online meetings, we meticulously selected nine musical compositions from four continents, categorising them into two distinct atmospheres: woodland and ocean. The audience can anticipate an enthralling auditory journey, replete with the evocative sounds of ice and plastic, the haunting echoes of vanishing whale songs, and the ethereal glow of bioluminescence—a musical expedition delving into the delicate yet perilous relationship between humanity and the environment.
Our performance will feature compositions by distinguished artists such as Liza Lim, George Crumb, Dai Fujikura, Chen Yi, Alex Ho, and Sun Keting, complemented by the world premiere of an exclusive commission by Zhenyan Li.
The ensemble, consisting of the exceptionally talented Beibei Wang on percussion, Daniel Shao on flute, Annie Yim on piano and Garwyn Linnell on cello, promises to deliver an unforgettable experience.
Written by Xie Rong, also known as Echo Morgan, who is an artist. Her work converges at the intersection of personal narratives, collective social struggles, eco-feminism, immigration, body politics, and gender politics.
10 years since the make of Be the Inside of the Vase. The film will be screening at The Third Festival of Chinese Video Artists at the Cine Morelos Cinema, Cuernavaca Mexico. It as a parallel activity in their own Violet Green Festival. Feminisms in Morelos. Thanks to Curator and longtime supporter Elizabeth Ross.
Xie Rong, a Chinese-born contemporary artist, specializes in performance and video art. Her work, born from a hybrid complex self-awareness, balances between tradition and modernity. The artist tells about the personal, translating her stories into the language of performance, recites texts in English, and sings traditional Chinese songs. Xie Rong uses the technique of homage and silence, indicating his presence, powerful and fragile at the same time. The artist uses her influence on the public, involving the audience in her own performance.
Xie Rong’s narrative is based on her family history. In her works, she shares memories of her childhood in the city of Chengdu in the Sichuan region, talks about her relatives and the ancestors of her family. The personal memories that the artist explores are based on the deep traditions of a complex Chinese society undergoing ideological, political, economic and social changes.
Xie Rong analyzes the stereotypes associated with China, fights against them and opposes them. He paints his body with classical Chinese cultural symbols, mimicking either blue-and-white porcelain or classical Chinese landscapes and calligraphy, giving new meaning to traditional Chinese painting. With her art, she “translates” traditional classical Chinese art into modern language, adapting it to modern Western perception.
Xie Rong’s work is influenced by Western performance artists of the 1960s and 70s. In those years, performance included an exploration of the capabilities of the human body, a test of physical and mental endurance and stamina. Shi Rong, using voice, body, symbolic images and personal texts, examines the relationship between such human manifestations as cruelty, beauty, vulnerability, trying to understand how all this together affects the formation of self-awareness and the feeling of one’s own body. Shows traditional Chinese art through a modern view from the side – from Europe, using both sound and traditional Chinese symbols – for example, a goldfish, concepts from Chinese philosophy.
Often, Xie Rong invites the audience to take an active part in her performances, drawing strength from the vulnerable position in which the audience finds themselves and the discomfort experienced by the participants in the show. The emotions of the audience are intertwined with the feelings of the artist, which allows her to build a certain model of relationships, which is a holistic performance.
The creative cycle of actions of the artist and the audience, the inextricable link between the past and the future, between traditional cultural baggage and contemporary art echoes the principle of Buddhist samsara: the cycle of birth and death, growth and decay, death and rebirth.
Xie Rong (1983) was born in Chengdu, China. She attended art school in Sichuan, where she studied classical drawing and calligraphy, at the age of 19 she left to continue her studies in London, where she received her first academic degree in graphic design from the Central Saint Martins College of Art (CSM) and the second academic degree in art from the Royal College of Art. Lives and works in London and Surrey. Participated in solo and group exhibitions in Hong Kong, Australia, China, Sweden, Germany and England. Her husband, photographer Jamie Baker, helps her in her work.
Xie Rong. “The place where I yearn is day and night.” Ramat Gan Museum of Russian and Far Eastern Art. From November 11, 2021 – May 2022 Exhibition curated by Adiya Porat
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.
Drawing on her volatile personal history as a child growing up in China, Echo Morgan, whose real name Xie Rong, creates devastatingly emotional performance art. One piece titled Be the Inside of the Vase performed in 2012 at The Royal College of Art in London was based on a conflicting childhood memory. Her mother would tell her “Don’t be a vase, pretty but empty inside, be the inside, be the quality!” while her father would say, “Women should be like vase, smooth, decorative and empty inside!” Beginning with this memory, Morgan pulls the audience deep into her personal history and psyche.
The performance is intended to elicit deviance from the audience seen in the fun colored balloons she provides, the drinks in their hand (although probably provided by the venue), and her slow participant-induced undressing. This dark eroticism is present in Morgan’s relationship with her father, at one point even stating “I used to believe that one day…that one day, he would come back, that one day he would rape me.” The audience’s encouragement to undress her at their will is similar to Yoko Ono’s 1965 performance Cut Piece in which Ono placed a pair of scissors in front of her and asked the audience to come forward one-at-a-time to cut off pieces of her clothing. Near the end of the performance a man gets overzealous and begins to cut off large chunks, exposing her nearly-naked body and clearly making Ono unsettled. Both pieces bring the natural deviance within humans to the surface forcing them to address their typically interior feelings in a very public context.
Break the Vase begins as a piece about Morgan’s mother and her advice to be “like the inside,” but as the performance is executed it becomes clear that her father is an inescapable character in the narrative. The audience is a metaphor for his persistent abuse towards both Morgan and her mother, but Morgan herself, in the vase, may also be a symbol of him. Morgan’s head sticks out the top of the vase just enough to be struck by the onslaught of balloons, an event that appears to be a strange beheading ritual. From the perspective of the father being both the abuser and the abused, Morgan has cleverly placed him in a fantasy hell of self-inflicted torture.
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.
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.
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It matters not the depth; if a dragon lives in a body of water it becomes magical.
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This is a crude house; only I appreciate its fragrance.
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Moss ascends the steps, turning them green,
grass’ color enters the blinds, turning them blue.
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In talk and laughter there are scholars with profound knowledge,
and among those coming andgoing there are no illiterate men.
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One can play the lute and read the golden scriptures.
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There is no string or wind instruments to confuse the ear,
and no desk paper work to strain the body.
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It’s Zhu Ge’s thatched house in Nanyang; it’s Zi Yun’s gazebo in West Shu.
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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.
It was a staged performance, also a short film with personal narrative. I grew up in China until 19 years old, my early communist education and China’s economic boom has deeply embodied in my roots. They still strongly control my thoughts and behaviour. In this performance I used 27 bright red lipstick to cover my body! The red body symbolized my childhood belief and my confusion of losing my cultural identity in the globalized consumer culture. The final dance image in the film is a photographic remake of Matisse’s The Dance. I acted the dancers, behind the red surface my identity and sexuality become mysteries.
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…
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! .”