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20 minutes at Phi Centre, Montreal, as part of Encuentros 2014–Choreographing Social Movements in the Americas, June 24, 2014, photo credit: Christian Bujold

I stand on a piece of traditional Chinese Ink Wash Painting, holding a tea pot and pour ink from the tea pot on my back. after the ink was gone, i suddenly shake my head, the tea pot drops on the floor and smashed to pieces. i turn my body, knee on the painting, holding a water gun in my right hand. I lift the gun, point to my head and shoot. And then I lift the gun again, this time, I point to my heart and shoot. The action of shooting at my head and heart will be repeated until the ink on the water gun runs out.

After living aboard as a Chinese for 12 years, I noticed there is a tremendous change inside me: something that has nurtured and cultivated me has gradually faded and forgotten. The gesture of shooting myself with ink is a political gesture. It is not only an apology for my twelve-year absence but also a manifestation that reveals my urgent needs to renew my lost tradition and culture. The ink is an essential material for Chinese traditional painting and calligraphy. In my performance, the ink is not to be used as an artistic tool to reproduce the appearance of the subject, but to be used as a weapon against myself. this performance examines relationships between me and the place I live, between what I have lost and what I have gained. This performance is also a ritual meditation. In this suicidal ritual, I baptize myself with Chinese ink in order to be saved from fear of loss, preserve my identity from the process of self-transformation, and to capture my stray soul in a foreign land.

 

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Two female performers touch and kiss each other while wearing masks, and then one pinches another one’s back until her back turns to dark red, finally, they put their feet into two buckets, which one is filled with ice and another one is filled with hot boiling water; they stay in hot+cold water as long as they can. 

performed at Articule on April 25th, 40 minutes, performed by Chun Hua Catherine Dong and CYranova. photo credit: Laurence Poirier


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I wrap my head in Chinese silk fabric and pose. In this work, figure and ground blend and reverse roles. A literal act of self-effacement, the body on display is nonetheless eroticized, on display as art—taking on the formal aspects of a Renaissance bust. Shame in this work is transformed to a visual symbol alive on my skin, knitting difference into identity and identity into difference, becoming signs of awareness and evidence of inability to escape.

Photo credits: Dayna Danger



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20 minutes at Gray Zone for Performance Art in Kingston,  NY. April 6, 2014,photo credit: Erik Hokeson

I consistantly draw circles on my stomach while dripping silva from my covered mouth

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90 minutes at Grace Exhibition Space, Brooklyn, NY, April 4, 2014, photo credits: Miao Jiaxin

Just Another Mouth to Feed is a performance that explores visual culture of shame associated with vulnerability in its personal and socio-political dimensions. Shame is a painful feeling about oneself as a person. It is an innate human reaction rooted in childhood experience, and it is linked to sexuality and the cultural norms that regulate the body. In this performance, I create a fictional figure: a girl who wears a mouthpiece and diaper. The reason she is like that is because when she was born, she was told that she was just another mouth to feed. At her time and the place she was born, being a girl is a mistake. For her, shame is like a birthmark that she has to carry from her birth to death. In this performance, I divide her life to seven stages: Newborn, Childhood, Youth, Adult, Mid Age, Elder, and Death. She encounters and expresses different type of shame in each stage of her life.

 

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45 minutes at place-des-art, Montreal, Feb 7, 2014, Photo by Parham Yazdy

Performed by Laurence Eulalle, Stephanie Wu, Maggy Flynn, Veronique Morier, Mary Williamson, Brittney Gering, Bailey Eng, Ekaterina Kukharchuk, Lucy Fandel, Camille Brisson, Liliana Argumedo, Mira Fister-Tadic, Wing Sze Tsang-Hy, Alida Esmail, Natalie Montalvo.

Sixteen females wear red mouthpieces and white bath towels, standing in a row and facing the same direction. They repeat four still gestures: standing, kneeing, sitting, and lying on the floor. The performers hold each gesture for five minutes and then move to another gesture.

The gestures in the performance are inspired by gargoyle, a legendary stone-carved grotesque with a spout that normally is designed to convey water from a roof. Mouth serves as the opening for food intake and in the articulation of sound and speech. However, when performers wear the mouthpieces, or when women’s mouth is forced to open, the mouth loses its function. In fact, it silences and disables the women because they are unable to talk when their mouths are widely pulled open. This performance explores another side of the unseen and unspoken—the vulnerability, struggle, shame, and suffering that we are uneasy to share and expose.

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4 hours at  Nuit Blanche on March 1st, 2014, Montreal. And 3 hours  at Palais des congrès de Montréal on March 15th, 2014,  Montreal. photo by Parham Yazdy.

I set a desk and two chairs in an indoor space. I sit on a chair, and a mannequin in front of me. There is a plate of cooked rice on the desk, I use a spoon to scoop rice, put it into my month, and slowly chew it until it becomes soft and warm. And then I carefully transfer the rice from my month to the spoon, and feed the mannequin in front of me. This process is repeated until the rice on the plate is thoroughly transferred.

This performance issues communication and linguistically phenomena with minimalistic gestures. It refers that the sense of authenticity, integrity and beauty of resource language get lost in translation. The rice in this performance is a metaphor of text. I am sitting on a desk, translating a big plate of text to my reader who is devouring this plate in its translated form. My reader may understand the subject, but the quality of what he/she has consumed is definitely not the same as the original once. In fact, translating a text is like chewing up rice and then feeding it to somebody else. In performance, what I feed to people is still rice. However, this transformed rice has already lost its flavor and nutrition. It is the same in translation, clarity and fluency of source text might still be kept in a target text. However, the source text and the target text can never be the same because fidelity in translation is the root that translators strive to approach but it can never truly be reached.

The processing of eating and feeding rice to the others is a process of self-translation, a communicative situation, from one cultural context to the other.  My body in this performance is a cross-cultural mediator, rendering my experiences into the both languages. In this performance, I am not producing another original, but a reflection of difference that tailors reality and identify to suit conscious ideological needs.  What I offer is not unbiased textual fidelity, but a taste of the otherness in cultural communication.

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