Performance’s only life is in the present. Performance cannot be saved, recorded, documented, or otherwise participate in the circulation of representations of representations: once it does so, it becomes something other than performance. To the degree that performance attempts to enter the economy of reproduction, it betrays and lessens the promise of its own ontology.
—— Peggy Phelan
In the eyes of a performance fundamentalist like Phelan, once this medium degrades to the object of reproduction of images would be fully degenerate. Behind this, one would likely find its supporting position of “dematerialization,” advocated by the second avant-garde art movement. Where the medium is isomorphic to capitalism – only that such ideology seems somewhat flimsy before the realities of a new medium. Since the 1960s, performance became integral to media art, in the swings of live experience and reproduction, presentation and representation, we come to realize that what was once referred to as the classic “performance art” often preserved in a mediated form. Video art is undoubtedly one of the critical loops. Recorded performance or performance videos derived into many complicated forms, the interactions between the body and technological media bring together two different types of discourse, where the organic and the artificial, the immediate and the documentary, the flesh and the screen generate unavoidable friction and integration. These are the points of departure for this exhibition.
What “Embodied Mirror” attempts to explore is the intimate exchange between video art and performance in the history of Chinese contemporary art. At its inception, video art in China was integral to performance art. With time passing through the camera lens, Zhang Peili’s 30 x 30 (1988) allowed the viewer to observe the body objectively, from which to arrive at the impact of its metaphorical effects. Thereon, in the development of video art in China, many artists have adopted strategic approaches to extend the mediums of video art and performance for one another. This exhibition presents five themes, “Autobiography,” “Event,” “Dancer,” “Speaker,” and “Theater.” Each topic will address an independent clue in combing through the diverse and complex phenomenon of this overlapping domain.
“Embodied Mirror” points to the fact that video art does not necessarily provide the “stage” for performance, but a “mirror” or “exit” to access the world. It does not necessarily emancipate the body or to isolate it from the confines of social and historical discourses, but provides new strategic device or decoder. Where the body becomes the embodiment of “eternity” and “transmission” in the context of moving image, and the medium becomes a new scenario of life. At the same time, the subject’s response to reality translates into a shared media sensibility.
Li Ran, Mont Sainte-Victoire, Video, Color, Sound,Live performance & Video Installation, 34′36′′, 2012
Mont Sainte-Victoire is a mountain located in South France, which artist Paul Cezanne had a full view of from his studio. During Cezanne’s lifetime, he had painted dozens of paintings depicting this mountain. Li Ran uses the mountain’s name as the exhibition title, trying to construct his own entry point into this modernist aesthetic, whilst re-viewing fragmented experiences that are grounded in our own history. Li Ran has compiled a four-part statement comprising of the themes: Reflection of Images and Scenes, Gaze, Competition and Encounter. During the exhibition opening, a live performance took place with the artist mimicking voice-over styles from 1970s-1980s’ Chinese dubbed movies. The performance is accompanied with a display of three automatically timed projectors exhibiting a continuous loop of more than 200 photographic slides. The images of these slides feature ‘image extracts’ culled from the artist’s own aesthetic experiences of modern historical images of the ‘west’ found in textbooks and art history.
Tao Hui, Talk About Body, Video, Color, Sound, 3′45′′, 2013
The artist addressed in her own room, acting as an Islamic girl. She toke the article which was written by a physical anthropologist analyzing his own body as the chief source. He analyzes the body structure,，physiognomy characteristic and blood lineage gene objectively in detail and fabricates a ceremony scene according to the authentic materials. He attempts to abandon emotion and focus on his own body, resist the over-spiritual confinement by traditional religion and try to make a balance between them. “I give up all of my prejudice and create my body by natural facts.
Shi Qing, Anorexic, Video, Color, Sound, 18″00, 2006
社会心理取样 | 这部风格化的影像试图提取中国 80 年代后群体心理的结构性样本，其中主角由四个不 同的演员分别扮演意在强调事件的普遍意义，厌食症作为社会心理症候的隐喻，从肉食迷恋到恋尸倾向 的戏剧性处理，和排队经验轨训的身体一起，把社会转型后的个体选择逼进了进退两难的仄境。
Cao Fei , Chain Reaction, 2000, Video, Color, Sound, 5′25′′, 2000
Chain Reaction is a kind of independent thinking itself. Since everyone has his or her own experience and values, I call the world of Chain Reaction “a view of schizophrenia”. Most of the images of the video surpass, as well as imitate daily life experience absurdly. The film is to analyze and oppose evil by the way of using the power of evil inside human nature. Chain Reaction is an allegory of evil but without the function of salvation like the other allegories.
Payen Zhu, Each Is a Corporate and Each Is a Product, Video, Color, Sound 12’17”, 2015
Wuhan Ecological Art Park is a place frequented by an illegal pyramid scheme organization. The salesperson would lead a tour and give random meanings to the public sculptures in order to persuade the public to join their organization. The artist interrupted the tour with similarly or even more absurd acts, such as talking to a bronze figure. The salesperson was freaked out by Zhu’s performance and left. Zhu then took over and told a story to the crowd about the battles between the real estate and East Lake, rise of central China, Capitalism, and the desire for success.
Zhou Tao, Mutual Exercise, Video, Color, Sound, 10’54”, 2009
Mutual exercise is some practices and experiences in a mutual way between my friend and me in the public space. We provide each other with our bodies to move forward mutually and to rehearse different kinds of common actions, according to the unostentatious and interesting scenes and objects. When we are still, it seems that we were just the same as all those ordinary people around.
LI BINYUAN, Freedom Farming, Video, Color, Sound, 10’54”, 2009
In the countryside of China, land is a heavy issue. In 1999, when my father passed away in an accident, the land that he had cultivated was handed down to me. I was at a loss, and avoided returning to my hometown. But the problem was not solved because of my detachment, and my sense of identity gradually disappeared. In 2014, I decided to use one of the plots of land to produce a work, to re-examine my relationship to my birthplace, which felt both strange and amiable. Finally, I made my peace through the fatigue that came from the constant falls into the field and the mud.for 2 hours. The name of the work, Freedom Farming, comes from the land certificate issued by the village committee, and from the sense of salvation that came from the performative act itself. ‘Freedom Farming’ is a work about the dialogue between me and my father, and my present reality. I attempt to find a balance between the three, or save some things that are already lost through this behavior; also I want to confirm my sense of identity, of belonging, via this path.
Yao Qingmei, Sanzu Ding and its patterns 2 — Hypotheses on the origin of the hammer-sickle sign: Shamanism, Video, Color, Sound, 11’50”, 2013–present
In 2013, during the construction operation in Longmen county of Yangshao area, Henan, workers unexpectedly discovered a red pottery tripod (“ding”). The vortex pattern on the vessel bears similarity with the modern “hammer and sickle” motif used to represent New China. According to the C-14 dating, the tripod excavated in Longmen has a five-thousand-year history. Chinese archaeologists have named its mysterious pattern the “hammer and sickle”. On the basis of archaeology, anthropology, psychoanalysis, semantics, semiotics and mythology, Professor Yao focuses her research on the origin and development of the “hammer and sickle” motif, concerning which she proposes six hypotheses with scientific significance.
Tang Dixin, Reed, Video, Color, Sound, 10’17”, 2019
As much as Tang Dixin’s video may give the impression of a documentary film, once the work begins to reel, one quickly realizes the necessity for adopting a fictional perspective. A young Chinese Tang, who met a young Japanese Nan and convinced him to be buried in a hole among the reeds. This process seemed like two lonely strangers coincidentally met and played a game together, a unique encounter that could not have be repeated. Tang Dixin has an acute ability to grasp theatricality in a contemporary sense–the unusual, illogical and arbitrary encounters of strangers in an unfamiliar environment. The tacit understanding the two men have achieved is final, which neither has a past or a future, nor influenced by any conditions, but in the scenes constructed by these moving images here and now.
Ma Qiusha, An Incident of Love, Video, Color, Sound, 1’12”, 2004
An overlapping time
1981 10 28 1982 3 23 1982 10 28 1983 3 23 1983 10 28 1984 3 23 1984 10 28 1985 3 23 1985 10 28 1986 3 23 1986 10 28 1987 3 23 1987 10 28 1988 3 23 1988 10 28 1989 3 23 1989 10 28 1990 3 23 1990 10 28 1991 3 23 1991 10 28 1992 3 23 1992 10 28 1993 3 23 1993 10 28 1994 3 23 1994 10 28 1995 3 23 1995 10 28 1996 3 23 1996 10 28 1997 3 23 1997 10 28 1998 3 23 1998 10 28 1999 3 23 1999 10 28 2000 3 23 2000 10 28 2001 3 23 2001 10 28 2002 3 23 2002 10 28 2003 3 23 2003 10 28 2004 3 23 2004 10 28
Li Ming, Prove that I am Elapsing with the Light, Video, Color, Sound, 7’21”, 2017
A performer(artist) makes the dead skin and dust float in the air through scratching, itching, shaking and peeling of the skin, and makes them visible in the air through special light .
Yan Xing, Arty, Super-Arty, Single channel HD video (b/w, silent, loop), 9’16”, 2013
This work is based on works by Edward Hopper (1882–1967). Using a “realist” scene constructed by Hopper as a prototype, seven original works are intertwined with past works by the artist. The “reality of art” re-interprets the “super-arty” world. The whole mime is interspersed with the artist’s expressions concerning “arty” and “super-arty”. All of the features that appear in this work point to an exploration of “art” itself. One could say that without the artist’s misinterpretation of “art”, there would certainly be no better definition of “Super-Arty”.
Xu Zhen Shouting, Video, Color, Sound, 4’00”, 1998
In Shouting, the artist films crowds as they move through busy public spaces. He then lets out a scream and laughs, gauging people’s reactions as they turn in surprise or ignore his provocation. For the artist, the scream is a way of asserting his individuality in a society that prioritizes community and conformity.
Kan Xuan, Kanxuan Ai! Video, Color, Sound, 1’22”, 1999
The location is the underground passage of the Fuxingmen subway in Beijing, a public space from one platform to another.I ran through the crowd and shouted my name and answered. It was as if I were calling myself and answering myself; It’s like I’m imitating others calling myself or I’m imitating myself in answering. I’m interested that when the spatial relationship between the caller and the responder becomes blurred, the form and result of being recognized by oneself or by others. What I shouted was “Kan Xuan! Ai!”
Li Liao, A Slap in Wuhan, Video, Color, Sound, 5’09”, 2010
On the Pedestrian Street in Wuchang District, Wuhan City, Hubei Province, Li Liao closed his eyes, waited for a slap in the face from the perpetrator who volunteered online. After the slap, Li Liao continued to maintain his eyes closed until the perpetrator left.
Zhao Zhao, Rain, Video, Color, Sound, 15’35”, 2012
Rain was filmed during the flooding that occurred in Beijing on July 21, 2012, one of the worst in living memory and one of many that occurred throughout China during that year. There is a chronic shortage of water in Beijing but in just a few hours, the city received six to seven inches of rain, and nearby mountain regions experienced flash flooding and landslides, leading to mass evacuations and numerous deaths. Wanting to be more than a bystander, Zhao Zhao found an inflatable mattress, which he used as an improvised vessel to float around under the Guangqumen Overpass, which saw some of the most drastic flooding. He also documented the flooded city with a video camera.
Jiang Zhi, Fly, Fly, Video, Black&White, Sound, 5’15”, 1997
Man is living humbly like a slave submitted to himself and his surroundings. But this humble life, living in solitude, silence, fantasy, weariness, and passion are sometimes so overwhelming that at times we really just want to fly.
-It’s one way to transcend or escape
Can we really escape this gravity and lift up?
Which direction will we choose to fly?
Zhang Qing, Taxi Samba, Video, Color, Sound, 6’00”, Nanjing (2003) / Germany (2005)
Back in 2003, ZHANG Qing performed Taxi Samba for the very first time in Re-turn NatureII: Pastoral in Nanjing, where ten taxies were designed to wait on two lines like ballroom dancing. Accompanied by sharp noise, they started and braked violently to dance a “taxi samba” when viewers were allowed to experi-ence hazard within safety distance as they walked among the thrilling and overwhelming performance.
Chen Xiaoyun, Drag, Video, Color, Sound, 4’11”, 2006
Half naked young man is dragging vehemently. The mysterious power is inside the door: harvest in darkness and extreme tiredness of heart and body is endless. You can’t let all this go.The invisible power that you are attempting to oppose or compete is in the other end of the rope but which controls you. You don’t know what you are going to lose or gain. There is no result about the darkness. You probably know nothing. Regarding to life, you have to stay here.
Lin Yilin, Golden Journey, Video, Color, Sound, 16’40”, 2011
I considered this series of work as a diary of a journey, in which accidental encounters and interesting happenings unfolded. At the same time, “events” were produced. Landmarks are the witness of the journey. I worked hard to make this series of work into “landmarks” of the landmarks so the audience can remember them.
The geographic environment stimulated me to test out the most basic physical movements of my body—”self-rotating,” or more precisely, rolling. This imagery came from the tiresof an automobile’s wheels. The slow walk of the participants required an enduring self- consciousness that made their brains numb. Their awareness of the distinction between themselves and the other pedestrians evoked a paradoxical state of mind. But what is more, they were also thinking about me rolling behind them. When I walked on the Golden Gate Bridge, I looked down to the fascinating ocean. But reason prevented me from jumping. Then, I decided to slowly roll down the bridge on the pavement. Fighter planes repetitively flew over my head. I became aware that they were supervising me. At the end, the U.S. Navy understood: This was art. Then they did not come back to disturb us any more. Luckily, they became the greatest audience of my work.
Tong Wenmin, Hover, Video, Color, Sound, 6’00”, 2017
2017.03.09, Hongbai Town, Sichuan Province, China.
I picked up the remains of an old eagle under a water tower. It fell
from the sky, a long time ago. I extended the wings along my arms . I connect myself with the eagle and walk around and make impromptu movements in my daily living environment.
Hu Xiangqian, Xiang Qian Museum, Video, Color, Sound, 14’31”, 2010
Xiang Qian Museum is an ongoing collection of artworks that exists in Hu Xiangqian’s mind. According to the artist, a museum collection is usually a collection of materials – the physical existence of artworks, while the collection at Xiang Qian Museum is represented through the artist’s body and conveyed to the audience–Xiang Qian Museum is non-materialistic. Hu believes art exists through his performance without physical form, as he said: “I think the best thing about art is that we are able to carry it around to wherever we go.”
Dai Chenlian, How to Become A Zombie in the Art World, Video, Color, Sound, 10’07”, 2012
Lecture in theater, on how to become a successful artist.
Wang Jianwei, Dilemma – Three Way Fork in the Road, Video, Color, Sound, 10’00”, 2007
I want to try to build such a “stage”, where all the individual performers have multiple aspects, including the visible and the invisible, the real and the hypothetical. These bodies are at the same time physical proofs of the real world and symbols that connect all kinds of desires. They are signs of a certain period of history but also void of any specific historical meaning.
Do they exist between imagination and ambiguity? They maintain a relative synchronization within different orders; they are introspective presences in public space; they share the same space but ignore each other. This is a stage filled with normality and abnormality. It is my experiment with video, and my understanding of the world that I live in.
嘉宾：葛宇路 / 艺术家，黄典林 / 媒介学者，陶辉 / 艺术家，童文敏 / 艺术家，张涵露 / 策展人
主持人：杨北辰 / 策展人
PLAY！: Medium, Theatre, and the debate on Liveness
“Lectures on everything“: the methotology of lecture performance