Color stereo video
This video records the artist performance at Tokyo Moetropolitan Theatre — an attempt to create a “flat theatre” in the three-dimensional exhibition space. Its main storyline is a newly composed story based on certain parts of Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang, a book from the Tang Dynasty. The artist combines elements borrowed from the book with his personal memories of everyday life to create a dedication to his grandmother.
The work represents a world of dilemma, of reality and dream, and of ghost stories and personal memories. With a classic model of paper-cutting performance, the work calls for a rewriting of a certain history, and with a mixture of various media such as painting, installation, object and moving image, it attempts to restructure and extend the territory of performance. This theatre is a virtual field of the artist’s memories — Shaoxing, his hometown and Lu Xun’s hometown. Interestingly, Lu Xun, the seminal figure of Chinese modern literature and the leader of China’s new culture movement, was also a fan of Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyan.
Note: “Big nothing” (original text: purple cloud comes from the east to Hangu Pass) originates from Du Fu’s Stirred by Autumn, a rather melancholic poem expressing the poet’s longing for Chang’an, the capital city. “Purple cloud coming from the east” is derived from the legend of Laozi going out of Hangu Pass, a sign for auspicious potent. The imagery of the purple cloud forms an isomorphism with the water vapor that rises when the kettle reaches the boiling point in the work, as well as with the clouds of smoke used to render the atmosphere in the video. Switching between the virtual and the real, the performance scene uses this association to activate the hidden connection between Lu Xun, ghost story and objects. The title of the work corresponds to its core of the space-temporal conversion, and also describes the situation and material form of the play, which contributes to a re-editing of time and space. The references in the work span the real and the virtual, creating a sense of delineation and change after layered editing.
About Dai Chenlian：
I have been working on my own problems through performance since I was a student. In the early stages, I worked to treat my psychological problems, slowly adjusting my personal and world perspective, reducing my deep sense of inferiority due to my physical and psychological condition, and then repurposing the difficulties and limitations I encountered in my actions into a gradual approach to my work. I developed my own artistic practice, recording and repeating each error, superimposing language upon language. I break down all the elements of theatre – story, action, sound, light, composition, posture, etc. – into their smallest constituent units, directly presenting the state of mind, process and action, building a complex out of spatial constructions, light, oral recordings, video, shadow performances, recitation, instrumental music, dance, etc. Since 2007, I have presented a number of projects, including museum theatre, family theatre, on-shelf theatre and playhouse theatre. In the realm of contemporary art, the boundaries of thinking are constantly being redefined. I transpose the daily stories of ordinary people and news events into my works, developing narratives and imaginations of the world, recording the emotions and events that are obscured in this era of social transformation, as well as the fates of ordinary people.