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

【HUGO BOSS ASIA ART 2015】RAM Talk | Being in Asia: Successful Active Marginals who Give up Social Life

Venue: 2F Y.W.C.A Building
Moderator: Zhang Yuan
Participant: Xiao Ke, Zhang Xian, Zi Han

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Devote limited time to one’s personal life and art creation by giving up all kinds of time and energy consuming activities in cultural life. Retreat from various cultural circles; apply one’s principles of creation into life. Do not establish seemingly close but actually hypocritical relationships, cut the contact with false friends and speak reason instead of nonsense.

About the Speakers

Zhang Xian is a play writer, theater director and situational artist. He founded and participated in folk performing groups, independent art spaces and educational outreach mechanisms including Zu He Niao Physical Theatre Company, Mecooon and Fringe Festival. He has been dedicated to writing, teaching and performing to materialize his ideals of "social theater" and "Daily Life Festival".

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.

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.