What's It About When We Talk About Asia | being in Asia

【HUGO BOSS ASIA ART 2015】RAM Performance | Being in Asia: Artist-in-Residence’s Performance: Dance Deco

Venue: 4F, Rockbund Art Museum
Performer: Huang Zhihao, Li Chenchuan, Xiao Ke, Xu Mengying, Zi Han

SHARE with friends

About the Performance

Dance Deco explores individual's body and identity by examining the decorative expression of dance. China’s dance education and dance culture left inerasable imprints on its dancers. Dance, be it folk dance, modern dance, classical dance or contemporary dance, does not just convey the aesthetics of the body, but also reflects the trajectory of the social development. At Rockbund Art Museum, performers will use the structure of scatter plots to collage, restructure and deconstruct dance memories, demonstrating the properties of each individual body. This new work also involves Moe Satt’s installation works. In the field of art, DECO not only stands for decoration, but, more precisely, it represents the application of classical elements and spirit in modern art. Dance Deco applies dance’s traditional elements to the reflection of the body. In the field of contemporary arts theater, spirited discussion and the search for so-called properties of "Asian body" have been going on in Asia. However in China, such discussion has been plagued by lack of focus. The work created by Xiao Ke × Zi Han as RAM’s artists in residence is another attempt to inspire the reflection and research of "Asian body” in the new generation.

About the Artists

Xiao Ke and Zi Han’s co-creation covers a wide range from photography, video, performance art to installations. They focus on human body and explore its expressive limits in China’s public context. The two artists apply artistic concepts to real life to complete their life cycle of “coming from life and going back to life”.

Xiao Ke, Performing Artist

As an independent artist, Xiao Ke explores body art and contemporary theatrical works that are close to the real life in China. And her art creation takes on various forms instead of just theater. She has been invited to perform around the world and won the ZKB Award at 2006 Zurich Theatre Spektakel.

Zhou Zi Han, Performer, Visual and Sound Artist
He focuses on integrated visual art and theatrical live music and his works range from photography, video, contemporary theater to sound creation. The contemporary theatrical works he participated in have been performed in major international theaters and festivals.

About the curator

Zhang Yuan is a theatrical producer who is also engaged in writing and translation on contemporary culture and art. In 2009, he shifted his focus from traditional theater to contemporary theater and started interdisciplinary cooperation with domestic independent artists and art groups. In recent years, he has been devoted to organizing and promoting intercultural dialogues on contemporary theater, trying to bring about new topics in different contexts. He also translated screenplays Endgame by Samuel Beckett and Black Bird by David Harrower.

Being in Asia -- Body Performance in Contemporary Theater

Co-curated by RAM and Zhang Yu

Contemporary theater is a constantly evolving concept. Unlike the stage forms of traditional theater, it focuses on exploring all the possibilities between performing arts and the reality. It addresses current social phenomena by adopting various forms and shifting paradigms. As an important feature of contemporary theater, body performance manifests itself in the most primitive way and bypasses language narrative and possible hypocrisy. We try to approach Asia through“body”and explore the relations between Asian cultures through the most essential bodily sensations. For a long time, art and culture of Asian countries look at themselves through the perspective of Western aesthetics and neglect to compare with one another. It is the same case with mainland China; though it is part of Asia, it has little idea of what is going on around it.

We have invited many cutting-edge contemporary theater artists or groups of mainland China and other Asian regions and countries to participate in a dialogue centering on two topics“facing the society" and "cultural gap". These two topics are designed to stimulate the artists to explore Asia, a world once constructed by the West, from different angles. With other Asian regions and countries as reference, we can reflect on the problems and challenges faced by mainland China in recent years and find some lost values and the road map for the future by changing our perspective.

Facing the Society
Discussion under this topic is not confined to social issues. Body and social environment mirror each other. Our body’s role shifts from passively accepting into actively expressing in plural forms. Everyone’s body, small as it is compared with the entire society, can reflect the current social climate. “Body” in contemporary theater does not perform, and it is driven by its instinctive will to express rather than linear logical thinking, making it possible to address the society directly. China and other parts of Asia are isomorphic in terms of social form, but due to different stages of development and different cultures, they also take on different facets. The theater is not only a mirror, but also a message.

Cultural Gap
Viewed by the West, Asian culture has been in a passive and "inferior" position of the other. This bias has never been corrected effectively and Asian countries have neglected the comparison among themselves.

Asia is a concept delineated by the West. Asian cultures look alike at first glance, but by a closer look we will find them different and mixed. Body is culture. How should body address the construction and breakthrough of cultural identity? Can we prevent cultural exchanges from yielding to political and commercial factors and being "superficial" and "politically correct"? We should not simply seek common ground while reserving differences, but also find or create a new culture in the gaps of the cultures.