photo and Video by Jame Zhang
perform at Visualieyez 2010 Performance Festival at Latitude 53 and 221 A Artist Run Centre
I set two 14 inch bowls, two pairs of small brushes, and tweezers on a table. I begin painting white rice with black ink one by one until one day the black rice equals the white rice. The audiences are invited to work together.
“Hourglass” is a rice-based performance that explores “deterritorialization” and “disessentialization” in the Taken-for-Granted world. The action of constantly painting white rice to black is a metaphor of hourglass. Sand in hourglass cannot flow without rotation as if power cannot shift without struggle. Too much power is concentrated on one side seems to be a main factor causing disharmony, confusion and dislocation, which embody on the social turbulence that we see and feel in our daily lives. In fact, power doesn’t bring growth unless we understand the essence of sharing the power. However, our established binary system, the concept of centre and margin, the majority and minority, and the dominated and dominating, still divides us in democratic multicultural societies. Too much power is concentrated on “the centre”, “the majority” or “the dominating” seems to be a main factor causing disharmony and dislocation.
The gesture of painting white rice to black is a political gesture. It reveals my desire to not only negotiate and transform everyday political life to art, but also install a model for social transformation that possibly could create a new way to look at utopia. For me, process of social transformation does not have to involve violence, and the political gesture doesn’t have to be radical. In fact, it can be done through a more peaceful way, a meditative way or meditation. This performance provides an opportunity for participants to meditate our situation whiling working together on a mutual goal: reconfigure the established centralized power in order to create an equal, fair and balanced world.
After living inCanada for nine year, I realized that there is urgency for me to renew my lost tradition and culture. In the early 2010, I started to use rice to create a series of performances to explore oppositions as manifestations of fundamental existential concern in Chinese philosophy. “Hourglass” is the fourth one in the rice performance series. This series is not only a ritual meditation, but also an opening conversation, examining relationships between me and the place I live, between what I have lost and what I have gained as a so called racial minority.
A scientist did a math, there are about 333,000ps grains in the bowl, it takes 20 seconds to paint a grain. As a result, if two people together paint 24 hours/ day, it needs 500 hours to paint half amount of white rice to black.
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